In a bid to avert long and crippling lines at gas stations after powerful storms like Hurricane Sandy, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday proposed that around one-third of the state’s gas stations should be outfitted with backup generators in case the power goes out.
In Sandy’s wake, there were throngs of vehicles waiting to fill up their tanks due to a gas shortage. There were reports of price gouging and even one instance where a driver pulled out a gun on another as they waited to get gas.
Cuomo, a Democrat, wants to avoid such potentially dicey situations.
“New York State must learn the lessons from Superstorm Sandy so that we are better prepared for the future,” Cuomo said in a statement. “This plan will prevent the long lines, delays and frustrations caused by gas stations being forced to close when they lose power.”
Every gas station within one-half-mile of highway exits and hurricane evacuation routes will be required to have a transfer switch by March of next year. If the gas station loses power during an energy or fuel emergency, it must hook up a backup generator.
Any gas station that fails to have a back-up generator intact will face a penalty of as much as a $2,000 per day. Gas stations on roads that become closed or damaged due to storms or flooding will not be penalized.
Also, all heavily renovated or newly built gas stations will be required by the state to build a transfer switch under Cuomo’s proposal.
Cuomo said that the state will provide up to $10,000 in grant funding per station to install a transfer switch.
Ralph Bombardiere, executive director of the New York State Association of Service Stations and Repair Shops, described Cuomo’s proposal as a reasonable one but not one without pitfalls.
However, he told the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle that some gas stations might not be able to access a generator within 24 hours of a storm or other bad weather.
State Assemblyman Kieran Michael Lalor was not pleased with the proposal.
“Small businesses just can’t take this continued onslaught of regulations. This is definitely a requirement to buy generators,” Lalor told the paper.