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Long Island

LI to get 3M gallon gasoline reserve

A week after superstorm Sandy, Long Islanders line

A week after superstorm Sandy, Long Islanders line up for gasoline in Hewlett. (Nov. 5, 2012) Photo Credit: Patrick E. McCarthy

An emergency supply of about 3 million gallons of gasoline will be stored on Long Island to help prevent a repeat of the shortages superstorm Sandy caused, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Saturday.

The reserve is coupled with another initiative to ensure that gas stations located along key evacuation routes have their own generators or the ability to tap a temporary one.

"If something like this happens again, we'll have a reserve, and our gas stations will have the capacity to pump" because generators are being installed at the key stations, Cuomo told reporters in Albertson after endorsing Democrat Thomas Suozzi for Nassau County executive.

The reserve supply is about one day's demand for gasoline for all of Long Island, an administration official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The amount would have met Long Island's needs during several days of Sandy-caused shortages because some gas stations were open, he added.

Northville Industries, which has a terminal in Port Jefferson, won a competitive bid for the new Strategic Gasoline Reserve. Northville has storage facilities in East Setauket and Holtsville, which can hold a total of 55,860,000 gallons of various fuels, according to its website.

The $10 million pilot program will be tapped only during emergencies, to supplement market deliveries while gasoline stations and suppliers recover, Cuomo said in a statement. The gasoline could be shipped to other parts of the state if needed.

New York's fuel outages after Sandy were "incredibly disruptive" to peoples' daily routines, Cuomo said.

The shortages lasted longer in New York than in New Jersey, which began rationing much earlier.

Sandy's tidal surge and widespread power outages shut at least nine of 20 critical fuel terminals at the Port of New York's Linden, Bayonne and Newark shorelines. The Island's largest distribution point, in Inwood, also lost much of its capacity.

The result was a major interruption in the flow of gasoline to Long Island. There are 2.2 million vehicles registered in Nassau and Suffolk, according to state data. Three days after the storm, lines began appearing at stations, reminiscent of those during the 1970s oil embargo.

Even if they could get deliveries, many of the Island's more than 1,000 gas stations had no power to pump fuel. Stations that were open were quickly swamped by motorists worried about running dry -- until demand was reduced by odd-even rationing, based on license plate numbers, instituted 11 days after the storm.

Kevin Beyer, president of the Long Island Gasoline Retailers Association, said back-up generators should be in place in time for the 2014 hurricane season.

One hurdle is the complicated regulations for installing generators at gas stations, he said.

The high cost is another problem for owners because the equipment might sit unused for years.

New York is offering gas stations $10,000 for a so-called transfer switch, which allows them to use a temporary generator. Alternatively, gas stations can buy a back-up generator.

But Beyer said the two quotes he has gotten for a back-up -- $17,600 and $22,000 -- exceed the $13,000 of aid the state is offering.

"I've been in the business 28 years. I would only have used it for three days," he said.


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