Fuel NY to Ensure Access to Gas During Emergencies

Published in CSP Daily News

Up to $17 million in federal relief funding will assist downstate stations

ALBANY, N.Y. -- New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced the launch of Fuel NY, an initiative to improve access to gasoline during a severe storm or other major weather event. Unveiled in the 2013 State of the State address, Fuel NY was developed as a direct response to gasoline shortages that occurred during Superstorm Sandy and includes the nation's strongest backup power requirements for gas stations in strategic locations.

As one step in a comprehensive initiative to protect the fuel supply chain in an emergency, Fuel NY will make up to $17 million in funding available to help stations improve their backup power capacity so they can remain open during major storms.

"The lack of access to gasoline greatly interfered with recovery and restoration efforts following Superstorm Sandy," said Cuomo. "Fuel NY will provide first responders, essential personnel, evacuating residents and other motorists with peace-of-mind knowing that gas stations have the necessary backup power capacity to distribute gasoline and get things back to normal as quickly as possible after a major storm. We have learned many lessons from Sandy, and this is one effort the State has undertaken to ensure it is better prepared in advance of the next extreme weather event."

As part of the initiative, the New York State Energy Research & Development Authority (NYSERDA) will administer a grant program to enable stations to install the wiring necessary so they can connect portable emergency generators in the event of an extended power outage due to an energy or fuel supply emergency or to install a permanently affixed backup power generator.

Additionally, a new website, nysandyhelp.ny.gov/fuel-ny, has been created to provide information for both station owners and motorists identifying which stations are required to participate in the program. The website also provides a question-and-answer section and information on how to apply for funding. The site will be updated regularly to show which stations are equipped with backup power capacity.

Approximately half of all downstate stations in New York City, Long Island and Westchester and Rockland counties are now required to have backup power in the event of an emergency, including:

*Stations within a half-mile of a highway exit or hurricane evacuation route in these downstate areas will need to be wired with a transfer switch by April 1, 2014. They must deploy and install a generator within 24 hours of losing power in an emergency.

*In addition, 30% of all retail outlets that are part of a chain further than half-mile from highway exits and evacuation routes in these downstate areas will be required to install a transfer switch by Aug. 1, 2015. They must deploy and install a generator within 48 hours of losing power.

*All newly constructed stations for which a building permit is issued on or after April 1, 2014, will be required to have wiring to deploy a generator or have a backup generator installed.

Stations selling less than 75,000 gallons of fuel per month are exempt.

Station owners/operators can apply for up to $10,000 per station to help install a transfer switch that will accept a portable emergency generator and up to $13,000 per station if they elect to install a transfer switch and a permanent backup generator. Stations that are part of a chain as defined in the program and that are not located within a half-mile of highway exits and evacuation routes can only receive up to $10,000. Funding will be paid only for actual eligible expenses upon receipt by NYSERDA of proper documentation that the installation is complete.

The Department of Agriculture & Markets and local Weights & Measures divisions will inspect pertinent station documents to ensure compliance with this law and confirm designated stations are ready to operate during a declared energy emergency.

NYSERDA president and CEO Francis J. Murray Jr. said, "This program is part of Governor Cuomo's efforts to address the entire fuel supply chain--from pipeline to pump--that may be affected during a major storm. Under the governor's direction, NYSERDA is taking a number of steps to ensure that the state is building an energy infrastructure that is more resilient and better able to withstand weather incidents in the coming years. The action today represents yet another step in the state's continued commitment to ensure New Yorkers safety and well-being during a state of emergency."

Kevin Beyer, president and CEO of the Long Island Gasoline Retailers Association, said, "On behalf of the Long Island Gasoline Retailers Association, we wish to thank Governor Cuomo for his continuous and concerted effort to work with the industry towards making the backup power grant program for gas stations a workable one. We greatly appreciate the fact that the Governor and his staff have made us partners in this process which should help to guarantee the program's ultimate success."

NYSERDA is also developing a program whereby it will manage a pool of portable emergency generators that will be available for these downstate stations when an energy or fuel supply emergency has been declared. In addition, as part of Fuel NY, NYSERDA is conducting a survey of resiliency measures at pipelines and terminals, and is assembling information from experts and the industry on the potential development of a Strategic Fuel Reserve.