Hempstead Town Board members have put off a decision on legislation that would require gas stations to have backup generators in case of electrical outages -- an effort to mitigate fuel shortages in the future.
Under the Sandy-inspired proposal, newly constructed gas stations would be required to comply immediately, while existing gas retailers would have until Jan. 15, 2015. Similar legislation was approved in Florida and Louisiana, town officials said, after hurricanes in those states.
"This is legislation that would protect consumers," Councilman Anthony Santino said at a public hearing Tuesday.
After several gas retailer advocates and station owners cited the high cost of compliance in requesting the board reconsider the proposal, Santino said the decision would be reserved so officials could "sit with them and revise the legislation."
Santino said numerous fueling stations in town had gas in underground tanks but were unable to pump it when they lost power during the superstorm.
"Attempting to fix one link of the distribution chain by requiring expensive generators is not going to benefit your constituents after all, and for sure would pose an unfair burden on retailers," said Cathy Ann Kenny, associate director of the New York State Petroleum Council, adding that installing a 150-kilowatt generator could cost more than $30,000.
Kevin Beyer, president of the Long Island Gas Retailers Association, reiterated his call for gas stations to be put on LIPA's high priority power-restoration list.
"This is an unfunded mandate and we just can't afford it," Beyer said of Hempstead's proposed legislation.
Allen Leon, owner of Leon Petroleum, which has several stations in Hempstead Town, said the law would result in more gas stations closing because of the financial burden imposed on independent gas retailers and would result in steeper prices for consumers.
"The price of gas would be much higher in the town as opposed to surrounding towns," Leon said.
Robert Del Gadio, owner of American Petroleum in Wantagh, said he supported the law. His station received a portable generator from Verizon after Sandy and was able to pump fuel, quadrupling his profits, he said. "I am going to put it in anyway because it is a good investment."