Fuel NY Initiative

In 2013, New York passed a law and launched the Fuel NY Initiative, to increase the number of gas stations along critical routes that will be able to operate during power outages caused by extreme weather events or other disasters. In conjunction with this law, Governor Cuomo announced the Fuel NY Initiative, which provides funding to help gas stations meet the new backup power requirements. The law and Initiative were developed in response to Hurricane Sandy, which illustrated the many challenges caused when most gas stations lost power as a result of the storm and were not able to operate fuel pumps to dispense fuel needed for emergency response and recovery efforts. Fuel NY will help the state increase resilience to future storm events by helping to ensure that first responders, other essential personnel, and residents have access to fuel to carry out evacuation, response, and recovery efforts, and to return to work as quickly as possible after storms.

The state law requires all existing gas stations along critical routes in the downstate region (Long Island, Lower Mid-Hudson, or New York City areas) to have installed a transfer switch, which is wiring that will allow them to connect and use a backup generator during fuel supply emergencies. The requirement applies, as of April 1, 2014, to existing gas stations that are within one-half mile from an evacuation route, as designated by the counties in the region, or from a highway exit to be prewired by April 1, 2014 with a transfer switch that allows them to install and deploy backup generators during fuel supply emergencies. It also requires gas station chains (those operating ten or more stations in a single downstate region – Long Island, Lower Mid-Hudson, or New York City regions) to have installed prewiring the necessary wiring for backup generators at a minimum of 30 percent of the stations that are part of the chain by August 1, 2015. All newly constructed stations receiving initial building permits after April 1, 2014 are also required to be prewired for alternate power regardless of location within the downstate region. The law exempts existing stations that averaged less than 75,000 gallons of fuel sold monthly.

During an energy or fuel supply emergency as declared by the governor, all stations within one-half mile of evacuation routes or highway exists, and new stations permitted after April 1, 2014, must connect and operate a backup power source within 24 hours of losing power. Additional stations that are prewired for alternate power due to the 30 percent requirement for chain retailers must install backup power within 48 hours. Gas stations may choose to comply with the requirement by owning and installing a permanent backup generator, or by having an approved plan in place to deploy and install a portable generator during a declared emergency.

To help gas stations comply with the law, Governor Cuomo announced the Fuel NY Initiative, which would provide up to $13,000 for stations electing to install wiring for a permanent backup generator, or up to $10,000 for stations installing wiring to accept a portable generator during an emergency. The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) is administering the grant program and repaying eligible expenses to stations that document proper installation of the upgrades. NYSERDA anticipated that $10,000 would in most cases cover the full cost of wiring, and $13,000 grants would cover the full cost of wiring and/or all or a portion of the cost of a permanent backup generator.

For stations choosing to utilize a portable emergency generator rather than a permanent generator, NYSERDA has established a Fuel NY Portable Emergency Generator Program to provide portable generators during fuel emergencies. NYSERDA works with eligible station owners/operators to develop a rental agreement; during a declared emergency, participating stations request a generator from NYSERDA, which deploys generators based on locations and availability. NYSERDA prioritizes stations most essential to public safety and well-being during declared emergencies, based on factors such as location and possibly on hours of service as well. For participating stations, NYSERDA charges a $1,500 weekly fee for rental and connection of the generator, plus the cost of generator fuel, but the fee covers any routine and emergency maintenance costs. Stations can alternatively opt to make their own arrangements with private companies to rent and install portable generators. Stations that fail to comply with the law can be fined up to $1,500 per day. However, those participating in NYSERDA’s Portable Emergency Generator Program but that do not receive a generator due to NYSERDA’s station prioritization are not subject to the fines.

Also as part of the Fuel NY Initiative, the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery maintains a website to provide information for gas station owners about the law and the grant program, and a list to help motorists identify stations required to participate. The website includes a map that shows evacuation routes, and routes within a half mile of a highway exist or evacuation route, as well as overlays for the 100-year and 500-year floodplains.

The generator law was signed by Governor Cuomo on March 29, 2013, and NYSERDA sent notice to affected stations by June 1, 2013. Fuel NY included up to $17 million total in federal funding, administered by NYSERDA, to help stations install the wiring required by the law.

 

This Adaptation Clearinghouse entry was prepared with support from the Federal Highway Administration. This entry was last updated on January 28, 2016.

 

Publication Date: June 1, 2013

Related Organizations:

  • State of New York

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  • Case study
  • Funding program
  • Laws

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