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Lawmakers propose tax incentive to keep gas flowing when disaster strikes



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Patrons wait outside a gas station following Superstorm Sandy. Four New York lawmakers want to provide an incentive for station operators to use generators to prevent long lines and rationing after future disasters.
January 08, 2013
Four state legislators are seeking to provide gas stations and wholesalers a tax incentive to purchase a generator and help prevent the gas shortages that occurred after Hurricane Sandy.

Assembly members Jim Tedisco, R-Glenville; Pete Lopez, R-Schoharie; Nicole Malliotakis, R-Staten Island; and Senator Marty Golden, R-Brooklyn, announced they are drafting new legislation to help prevent the long lines and long waits for gas that occurred following Superstorm Sandy.

"The 'unthinkable' has happened to New York three times in a little over a year. First, upstate was devastated by Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee and then this year, Superstorm Sandy wreaked havoc on the New York City metropolitan area," Tedisco said. "Accessing fuel in times of emergency is not a luxury it's a matter of family security. Rather than hitting struggling small businesses with another unfunded mandate, let's give them an incentive to ensure the gas keeps flowing and the refrigerators keep humming when disaster strikes New York."

In many cases, gas stations that had fuel were unable to remain open due to lack of electricity causing gas shortages and rationing downstate and long lines at the gas pump.

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The legislation would provide a tax credit of up to $15,000 to encourage gas stations and convenience stores across the state to install commercial generators to keep gas flowing when the power grid is down. A commercial-size generator costs between $5,000 and $30,000 to install and up to another $8,000 a year to maintain, according to the lawmakers.

"As an Assemblyman representing much of the region devastated by Irene and Lee, it's been my first hand experience that the effect of these storms show how fragile and vulnerable our society can be," said Lopez. "We owe the community an obligation to provide the greatest possible safeguards to protect life and property knowing there will be events like Sandy in the future. The incentives contained in this legislation offer a thoughtful and proactive approach to meeting those goals. I commend Assemblyman Tedisco for his leadership on this bill and am pleased to be a co-sponsor."

The plan comes as the governor is hearing ideas from three commissions on how to better prepare for natural disasters.

"The lines of people waiting to purchase gasoline in my district in the days following Hurricane Sandy were unlike anything I had seen before. The gas lines were comprised not only of cars but also people on foot in search of fuel to power generators for basic necessities," said Malliotakis. "By providing a tax credit to these small businesses to purchase generators, a big ticket item they might otherwise could not afford, we are investing in and better preparing our communities for a future power outage or blackout."

There are 7,200 service stations in New York, about half of which are located in the New York City area.

"As we begin a new legislative session, the people of New York City and State will look to see how New York's government will address, and thus take measures to prevent, a gas crisis like we saw following Superstorm Sandy," said Golden. "This tax incentive will encourage gas stations to take the necessary steps so to be ready for such instances. A common sense solution like this will prevent the long lines, the arguments and give people peace of mind, knowing they will be able to get gas and subsequently travel."

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