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Assembly Passes Power Company Generator Bill

The state Assembly has passed legislation that would require electric companies to provide generators if power is expected to be out more than 24 hours.

The legislation (A.3318/S.926) is sponsored by Assemblyman Nadeer Sayegh, D-Yonkers, and passed the Assembly by a 134-11 vote with Assemblyman Andrew Goodell, R-Jamestown, voting against and Assemblyman Joe Giglio, R-Gowanda, voting in favor. The bill hasn’t come up for a vote on the Senate floor.

In addition to stipulating electric companies will provide generators during an extended power outage, the legislation also requires electric companies won’t increase charges to ratepayers to cover any extra costs.

During floor debate, Sayegh admitted many counties and communities have emergency serviceS groups that plan for extended power outages and have placed generators in key emergency services locations. Sayegh’s concern is poorer communities that don’t have generators available or one community in Westchester County which, during Hurricane Quin and Hurricane Riley in 2018, had local municipal generators that didn’t operate as planned.

“This legislation may have questions as to who should and who shouldn’t, but these times of emergencies require that people be held accountable to plan better and to assure us that whether it’s emergency company teams or liaisons that work for utility companies are communicating, they’re planning, they’re assuring, their generators and the power and the electric service is up to par. This requires more planning and responsibility and those of us who have witnessed people who lost their lives and the suffering that was unnecessary because there was a lack of adequate resources and response is something that shouldn’t be looked upon in a minor way.”

Goodell, one of 11 Assembly members to vote against the bill, said the state should encourage planning so that generators are ready for use during an extended power outage. He cited Chautauqua County’s natural gas-powered generators, which are hard-wired into buildings so that they kick on when power goes out. Those generators are routinely tested, he said.

Placing the onus on power companies at the last minute won’t work, Goodell said, especially if the power company has to wait for a licensed electrician to install larger generator units.

“What this bill says is if you happen to be one of those fire departments that hasn’t planned proactively, then don’t spend the money to be ready at a moment’s notice,” Goodell said “Instead, hope that a utility company will come within 24 hours and help set you up ignoring the fact that when a utility company delivers a generator they can’t tie it into your building. It’s a building owner that has to get the licensed electrician that has to run the wiring to the outside, who has to put in a separate fuse box. So what this bill says is you who are prepared, you’re suckers. You who are irresponsible and haven’t done it, we’ll deliver a generator that you can’t connect anyway.”

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