Should Gas Stations Be Required to Own Generators?
Suggestion by former Bernards Township Engineer and Planned sent to Bernards Township Committee, state representatives.
Like many, many New Jersey residents, former Bernards Township Engineer and Planner Peter Messina said he was extremely frustrated by gas stations that had gas but were unable to pump it during the lengthy power outages following Superstorm Sandy.
"There were millions of gallons of gasoline in those underground tanks but people had to forage to find open stations and then wait in long lines," Messina said in a letter with a suggestion that is on the agenda be discussed at Tuesday night's Bernards Township Committee meeting.
Messina's idea, also sent to William Dressel of the New Jersey State League of Municipalities, calls for a local ordinance in Bernards Township and a bill in the state legislature that would require all gas stations to be equipped with a natural gas backup generator capable of powering gas pumps.
"This simple requirement would have stemmed a lot of the frustrations and anxiety about just getting to work" for many in the state, Messina wrote in his letter.
Messina said towns in Morris County were "like a war zone," and he had to head out to Pennsylvania to get gas.
Sen. Anthony Bucco, who represents Bernardsville and part of Morris County, weighs in
Dressel apparently passed along the letter to state Sen. Anthony Bucco (R-district 25), who represents Bernardsville and part of Morris County. Contacted by Patch on Monday, Bucco's office sent this response:
"Senator Bucco likes the concept, but as with anything, the devil is in the details of who pays for it. Obviously, state finances are pretty tight. The gas station proprietors themselves usually lease the property from the parent oil company. The station owners can’t absorb the cost like the parent company can because those lease costs are pretty high. There isn’t much of a profit margin for the station owners themselves, so the cost of a large generator borne solely by the station owners would also likely be a problem. But, if there’s a responsible way to make it happen, Senator Bucco’s willing to take a look at it."
Comments already on the first article ranged from suggesting that grants might be available for such generators, to noting it would be unfair to gas station owners to bear the financial burden and potentially raise gas prices as a result.
Commenter Richard Pfluger suggested that the cost of an automatic starting natural gas generator is not expensive in relationship to the capital investment in a gas station, and with continuing power outages, likely could be amortized over a few years.
"Also, a natural gas fueled generator is cleaner burning, less expensive to run and has an unlimited fuel supply," he noted.
If the township had at least two stations operating with an independent power supply, there would be a normal supply of fuel for vehicles and home generators," he added.
So, what do you think? Should one or more local gas stations be required to be equipped with generators to prevent another gas shortage as was induced by the last lengthy power outage after Sandy hit on Oct. 29?
And if so, who should pay? Should the power company provide the generators, perhaps as compansation for the last outage? Should the gas stations pick up the cost?
Let us know in the poll below, and of course please provide details in the comments section.