Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce, R-Morris, Passaic and Essex, has sponsored legislation requiring gas stations, nursing homes and other critical facilities to have generator backup power during declared emergencies. To help implement the generator program, DeCroce has included in her legislation a tax incentive to make the upgrades affordable to businesses.
DeCroce’s bill, “The N.J. Residents Power Protection Act” (A 3495), would address the power outage problems suffered by many residents during Hurricane Sandy by requiring vital and unique facilities to install either natural gas or propane powered generators. Those facilities would extend beyond gas stations and nursing homes to include private assisted living facilities, Class C (dementia patients) boarding homes, pharmacies and all firehouses and emergency medical facilities.
“I am not an advocate of government mandates, but after witnessing what occurred in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy it is clear that there are holes in our economic and safety network that need to be mended. We need to ensure that power is available for key businesses and institutions during emergencies,” said DeCroce.
To offset the cost of the generator upgrades the bill provides for a corporation business tax deduction and gross income tax deduction (not to exceed $10,000 in either case), and a sales tax exemption, for the purchase of applicable equipment by the business and facilities covered under the Power Protection Act.
DeCroce said the economic incentive portion of the Power Protection Act is vital to moving it forward in the legislature.
“I would not add another government mandate on businesses without an offsetting tax incentive that will mitigate the cost of the improvement,” said DeCroce. “I strongly believe in the need to have backup power supplies for key industries and health providers during natural disasters.
“It’s the right thing to do for residents and for our economy,” explained DeCroce. “Government and business must work together to make the kinds of improvements needed to benefit the citizens of New Jersey during extraordinary events like Hurricane Sandy.”
DeCroce’s legislation would require the backup energy come from natural gas generators — where natural gas is available — or propane stored in above-ground tanks. The generators would be hard wired into the facilities’ electrical systems to provide near instantaneous power in a blackout and would restore a majority of the power needed for basic services.
DeCroce noted that by hardwiring generators to facilities, there would be less need for extension cords coursing through nursing homes.
“Extension cords snaking through nursing homes are an invitation to disaster,” continued DeCroce. “The cords pose a hazard to elderly people in wheelchairs or those whose mobility is assisted by walkers and canes.”
DeCroce’s legislation would also require backup power sources for any new construction of grocery stores or convenience stores. She predicted that generator costs would be offset, not only by the tax deductions, but by a reduction in food spoilage and the stores’ ability to continue business during natural disasters. She noted that many convenience store owners were scrambling for generators before the hurricane hit and those without generators fought to save perishable food.
“With natural gas powered generators in place, convenience stores can stay open, maintain an income flow and prevent the loss of their perishable items,” said DeCroce.
“All these facilities that provide vital services to the public – whether they are emergency response buildings, gas stations, grocery stores or nursing homes – should have the backup power necessary to serve the needs of our residents and our economy,” said DeCroce.
“The technology is there to be used; let’s put it to good work before the next major storm hits our region,” added the assemblywoman.