Suffolk County Legis. Steve Stern has introduced a bill that would require service stations to have alternative power sources so they can pump fuel in extended emergencies.
The Huntington Democrat said stations in Suffolk County would have to be equipped with “transfer switches” to enable them to pump fuel.
As Long Island began to recover from Hurricane Sandy, which struck on Oct.29, long gas lines have formed, the result of both a shortfall in delivery but also the inability of many stations to pump fuel without power.
“What was very frustrating was that there were numerous stations that had plenty of fuel but didn’t have the ability to pump,” he said. “If stations had the ability then a very difficult situation would have been better.”
But Michael Watt, executive director of the Long Island Gasoline Retailers Association, said, "Our only opposition to this is that it’s an unfunded mandate for gas stations that are already up against it economically. We’re constantly battling fee increases from all kinds of registrations and inspections.
"It’s not a matter of just going to a Lowes and buying a generator. You have to buy, maintain, insure and inevitably pay a registration or inspection fee."
Station owners could benefit from a proposed sales tax exemption for the requirement. Steve Rossetti, secretary of the IDA board, said, “The function of the IDA is to provide assistance to our local businesses. This assistance will help ensure that our local service stations are an essential part of our local disaster preparedness and emergency response effort.”
The bill is cosponsored by Dr. William Spencer, D-Huntington, William J. Lindsay, the legislature’s presiding officer, and Lou D’Amaro, D-Huntington Station.
Stern said, “Service stations are some of our most important local businesses. What we have seen here and across the country is that stations have a very important public role, not just a convenience. Particularly today, with longterm outages, the most vulnerable and the first responders need access to fuel.”
A public hearing on the bill is set for Nov. 20.
“I do not understand even from a business perspective,” why stations aren’t already equipped, Stern said. “I don’t understand why it wouldn’t be standard.”