(Parsippany, NJ,) In the wake of Hurricane Sandy’s devastating impact on New Jersey’s power grid, Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce (R-26th) is sponsoring legislation requiring gas stations, nursing homes and certain other critical facilities to have generator backup power.
DeCroce said certain facilities which provide critical and unique services that protect public safety and help economic recovery must have secondary sources of power.
“We cannot allow our frail elderly in nursing homes to be at the mercy of high winds and rains that topple trees and power lines,” said DeCroce. “And neither can we tolerate long lines at a handful of operating gas stations as people try to get fuel to run their home generators or to operate their cars.”
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.
Natural gas and propane are preferable to gasoline powered generators, said DeCroce because the source of energy would be more constant and reliable and would eliminate the hazards posed by gasoline powered generators, which emit harmful fumes and pose a fire risk. She noted that there were at least two deaths reported from fumes of a gas powered generator — two teenage girls in Newark – who kept the generator too close to a window.
DeCroce also said that by hardwiring generators to facilities, there would be less need for extension cords coursing through nursing homes and assisted living facilities.
“Extension cords snaking through nursing homes are an invitation to disaster,” said DeCroce. “The cords pose a hazard to elderly people in wheelchairs or those whose mobility is assisted by walkers and canes.”
DeCroce’s legislation would also require backup power sources for any new construction of grocery stores or convenience stores.
“All these facilities that provide vital services to the public – whether they are emergency response buildings, gas stations, grocery stores or nursing homes – should have the backup power needed to serve the needs of our residents and our economy,” said DeCroce.
“The technology is there to be used; let’s put it to good use before the next major storm hits our region,” added the assemblywoman.
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.