The recently approved 2013-2014 state budget includes provisions to provide grants to gas stations that are prewired to receive or purchase generators during a declared fuel shortage emergency.
Stations in Long Island, New York City, Westchester and Rockland Counties located within a half-mile of an evacuation route or a limited access highway exit will receive $10,000 to be prewired and “transfer-ready” to switch on a generator during emergencies, and $13,000 if they install their own generators.
The legislation had been in the works since last November, when a gasoline shortage plagued millions of New Yorkers for weeks in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. In Nassau County, residents waited on hour-long lines to fill up their vehicles.
To develop the provisions, Gov. Andrew Cuomo worked with local government officials and private-sector service station owners. “New York State must learn the lessons from Superstorm Sandy so that we are better prepared for the future,” Cuomo said in a Feb. 20 press release, when the legislation was officially proposed. “This plan will prevent the long lines, delays and frustrations caused by gas stations being forced to close when they lose power.”
The law supersedes any local ordinances and regulations, thus nullifying a Town of Hempstead law in January, which required all gas stations within the township to purchase generators no later than 2015. The ordinance did not provide any grant money to offset the cost of a generator, which service station owners said could cost as much as $40,000. “That’s important to the station owners,” said Michael Watt, the executive director of the Long Island Gasoline Retailers Association. “In Nassau County, there are three towns and two cities. You don’t want to have to deal with five different sets of regulations on backup generators.”
LIGRA has approximately 800 members, including 100 in the Town of Hempstead. According to Watt, the organization’s president, Kevin Beyer, worked closely with the governor’s office to pass this legislation. He “worked very hard with the governor’s office to create a solution that was in everyone’s best interests,” Watt said.