Hempstead may require generators at gas stations

People wait on line with their gas cans

People wait on line with their gas cans at the Hess station on Deer Park Avenue and Weeks Road in Deer Park. Odd-even gas rationing restrictions were implemented in Nassau and Suffolk eight days later. (Nov. 1, 2012) Photo Credit: Newsday/John Paraskevas

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Hempstead Town officials will consider in two weeks legislation that would require gas stations to have backup generators in case of electrical outages -- an effort to mitigate the kind of fuel shortfalls seen across Long Island in the aftermath of superstorm Sandy.

All newly constructed gas stations would be required to comply with the new law. Existing gas station retailers would have until Jan. 15, 2015, to comply. Similar legislation was approved in Florida and Louisiana, town officials said, after hurricanes in those states.

"Long Island residents were slammed by Hurricane Sandy, and then slammed again by the fuel shortage and long gas lines that crippled our area after the storm," Supervisor Kate Murray said in a statement. "I think this common-sense legislation will help people to remain mobile after major catastrophes."

Hempstead officials pointed out numerous fueling stations in town had gasoline in underground tanks but were unable to pump it out when they lost power during the storm.

"Watching neighbors endure seemingly endless fuel lines in the storm's aftermath, which resulted in such an enormous level of frustration, simply added insult to injury," senior Councilman and legislation co-sponsor Anthony Santino said in a statement.

Kevin Beyer, president of the Long Island Gas Retailers Association, said he opposes any unfunded mandate that requires operators to install and pay out-of-pocket for generators. One potential solution, Beyer said, is for gas stations to be put on the Long Island Power Authority's high priority power-restoration list.

"We need real solutions, not a knee-jerk reaction to the storm," said Beyer, citing the expense of installing a generator-operated system. He said putting in such a system in his six-pump station in Smithtown would cost $30,000. "These generators are not cheap. It's not like going to Home Depot."

Last week, Nassau Legis. David Denenberg (D-Merrick) filed legislation requiring all existing county gas stations to have a manual-, battery- or generator-operated pump by June 1.

Suffolk Legis. Steve Stern (D-Dix Hills) introduced a bill that would require stations be equipped with "transfer switches" to pump gas from generators in the event of a long-term power outage.

The Hempstead Town Board will hold a public hearing on the proposed law on during its Nov. 27 meeting, which starts at 7 p.m.

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