Cuomo Generating Backup Power Plan for New York

Published in CSP Daily News

258 stations installing backup power capacity to prepare for emergencies (slideshow)

ALBANY, N.Y. -- Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced that 258 gas stations in the downstate New York area are already in the process of installing backup power capacity since he recently signed a law establishing what he called the "strongest protections in the nation" to ensure that critical gas stations have backup power capacity, making it possible to avoid long lines and restore normalcy as quickly as possible after a major storm or other disaster.

The governor on Oct. 29 visited a Hess station in Port Jefferson on Long Island that was one of the first built with backup power capacity in compliance with the state's new requirements. He also unveiled an online "Emergency Gasoline Network" map that shows all the stations that will have backup power capacity.

"One of the hardest lessons learned during Superstorm Sandy was making sure that the gasoline disruptions--caused by power outages--do not happen again," Cuomo said. "That's why we launched Fuel NY and signed into law the strongest requirements in the nation for gas stations to have backup power capacity, ensuring that pumps will stay open during an emergency like Sandy. Since this initiative began, more than 250 gas stations are moving forward in the process of installing backup power capacity and that is just the beginning. As the program continues, additional gas stations will begin these same installations giving the region a stronger, more resilient fuel delivery system."

One of the most significant gasoline challenges during Sandy was the loss of power at many stations, which made it impossible to pump fuel. AAA estimated that after Sandy, only 35% of stations on Long Island were operational.

In his 2013 State of the State address, the governor announced the Fuel NY initiative, developed as a direct response to the gasoline shortages during Sandy, and which includes the nation's strongest backup power requirements for gas stations in strategic locations. Launched in June, Fuel NY aims to improve access to gasoline after a severe storm or extreme weather event.

Under the state's new law, more than half of all 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, which makes it possible to hook up to a generator, 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 gas 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.

Small gas stations--defined as stations that pump less than 75,000 gallons per month--can receive an exemption.

The state of New York is investing up to $17 million in federal funding to help stations install transfer switches or purchase generators. Since the launch of the program, the New York State Energy Research & Development Authority (NYSERDA) has issued 258 grant contracts to stations in New York City, Long Island, Westchester and Rockland counties. Approximately 90% of grantees are installing a transfer switch, and 10% are installing a permanent generator on premises.

Station owners can receive grants of 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. Eligible stations can continue to apply for the program on the Fuel NY website.

Cuomo unveiled a new "Emergency Gasoline Network" map that shows all the stations that will have backup power capacity which is now available on the Fuel NY website. The website also features an interactive map where New Yorkers can input a nearby station address to see if it is in a designated strategic location that requires backup power capacity. The website provides further information for both station owners and motorists identifying which stations are required to participate in the program, as well as a question and answer section and information on how to apply for funding.