Out of crises inevitably comes legislation…some well intentioned, some perhaps a bit of a stretch.

This piece of proposed legislation has to do with backup generation for gas stations, as well as facilities that serve vulnerable populations such as nursing homes and the like.

It’s being proposed by a number of legislators namely Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce (R-26th), Assemblyman Scott Rumana (R-Passaic); Assemblywoman Amy Handlin (R-Monmouth); and State Sen. Barbara Buono (D-Metuchen).

DeCroce said certain facilities which provide critical and unique services that protect public safety and help economic recovery must have secondary sources of power.

Besides requiring gas stations and nursing homes to have backup generators, DeCroce’s N.J. Residents Power Protection Act would require public and private assisted living facilities, Class C (dementia patients ) boarding homes and all firehouses and emergency medical facilities to have a full source of backup power.

DeCroce’s legislation would require the backup energy come from natural gas generators -- where natural gas is available -- or propane stored in above-ground tanks. The generators would be hard wired into the facilities’ electrical systems.
DeCroce’s legislation would also require backup power sources for any new construction of grocery stores or convenience stores.

DeCroce said she is seeking bipartisan support for the legislation. “Storm victims are not Republicans or Democrats, they are our friends and neighbors,” she said.

Rumana’s legislation would require, according to this report

legislation that would require gas stations to have an emergency power generator for at least one of their pumps.

“We have people throughout my district, as well as the state, spending hours in line trying to get gas,” Rumana said. “Some of these lines are over a mile in length and include not only people in cars, but also with empty gas cans for their generators and power tools.”

Buono has already set up a Facebook page calling for the legislation mandating that all gas stations have backup generation capacity…and is gearing up for a fight with the gasoline merchants association, who, as you would imagine, are opposed to the measure.

The gas station industry is already threatening to fight back, complaining that it should not be required to secure its own power supply when other industries do not face similar mandates.

"You know what else is important to how we live? Making sure people have groceries," said Eric DeGesero, a lobbyist for the Fuel Merchants Association of New Jersey, a trade group that represents gas stations in the state. "So does the grocery industry have to have generators? If plywood is part of the critical infrastructure, then does the hardware industry need generators? How far do you take all that?"

Given the fact that we now have an odd/even gas distribution plan in place, which, so far, has gone smoothly, one wonders whether or not such legislation is truly necessary.

I might opt for legislation requiring backup generation capacity at places where vulnerable populations are housed, such as nursing homes, senior housing and the like…and possibly for gasoline stations that require franchise approval from the state.

But not each and every one!

That, in my view, would be legislative overreach…and how often have we seen that?

What’s your view?

Would you support legislation requiring backup generators at gas stations?

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