Pros, cons of emergency generator bill debated

TRENTON – Legislation that would require certain businesses such as gas stations to be equipped with backup generators may have good intentions, but it doesn’t work in practice, say gas and convenience store spokespeople.

Members of the Assembly Homeland Security and State Preparedness Committee met Monday to hold a discussion only on a proposal, A3495, that would require emergency power generators to be installed at certain businesses.

The bill, sponsored by Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce, (R-26), has built in tax incentives and would require gas stations and other “key facilities,” such as fire houses, pharmacies and assisted living homes, to install backup generators.

She described the mandate as a reality the state must deal with if officials want to learn lessons from Superstorm Sandy.

However, opponents argue that while the proposal may have good intentions, it does little to address a future crisis.

“It simply does not work,” said Sal Risalvato, executive director of the New Jersey Gasoline, Convenience Store and Automotive Association.

“This will accomplish nothing,” he said. “If five years ago this legislation had been passed, … you would have seen exactly, exactly the same amount of crisis.”

Risalvato argued installing the large generators would cost businesses between $11,000 and $20,000.

But that does not even call attention to the biggest problem, he argued.

“The problem was gasoline could not be delivered to the gas stations,” Risalvato said.

The committee took action earlier during the hearing when lawmakers released the following resolutions:

AR118 honors New Jersey emergency medical services personnel for service during Superstorm Sandy.

AR121 urges Congress to waive the cap on community disaster loans for certain counties, municipalities and school districts affected by Sandy. Officials say the request is similar to the waiver provided to New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina.

Pros, cons of emergency generator bill debated