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Should All NJ Gas Stations Have Back-Up Generators? [AUDIO]

In the days after Superstorm Sandy, many New Jersey gas stations were without power, and long lines formed all over the Garden State.

Michael Loccisano, Getty Images

The response was legislation crafted to require gas stations to purchase generators, but one expert says it’s a big waste of time.

Sal Risalvato, the Executive Director of the New Jersey Gasoline, Convenience Store Automotive Association, says, “Mandatory generators at gas stations sound nice, but they absolutely, positively won’t work. If this law would have been passed 5 years ago, we would have seen the exact same gas lines that we did after Hurricane Sandy that we did see because the problem was not that gas stations didn’t have electric power, the problem was gas stations could not receive gasoline deliveries.”

What Caused Sandy Gas Shortage?

He says after Sandy, “There was a problem with the distribution centers – the terminals, the racks where the trucks fill up. They sustained heavy damage from the storm surge, so they were not able to load gasoline to get the gasoline to the gas stations.”

Risalvato adds, “Many people think that mandatory generators means go down to the local Home Depot, buy a generator off the shelf and plug in your pumps, but that’s not the case. The generators that are required with installation cost anywhere from $11,000 to $30,000, so it could take anywhere from five to fifteen hurricanes for stations operators to recoup their investment, and many will never recoup their investment…Mandatory generators are not a good idea. Providing incentives and encouragement for any business – not just gas stations – to have backup generators is a good idea.”

Annette Quijano, Chair of the Assembly Homeland Security and State Preparedness Committee, says the idea “is to listen to the experts in various business sectors to understand what are the ramifications of whatever we may do in the future. There are several generator bills pending, so it makes sense to explore the issue…But we need to be very careful in how we proceed when it deals with items or new mandates costing our residents more money- and so we have to do a balancing act.”

She says there are many questions that need to be answered before moving forward.

“How many times are we going to have a Superstorm? That’s one question. And all those other emergencies, flooding -that happen more often – are we prepared for those? And what’s the cost? I just think this whole situation warrants as much discussion as needed to really look at all the different perspectives.”

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