Taking action to address future emergency fuel supply challenges highlighted during Superstorm Sandy, the Christie Administration today announced a $7 million grant program that will allow targeted retail fuel stations, on and near evacuation routes, faster and more reliable access to back-up power during an energy emergency.
"We learned firsthand during Superstorm Sandy that a reliable fuel supply is critical in a disaster to support essential facilities and emergency response operations," Governor Christie said. "By enabling gas stations to stay open in the event of a disaster, the State will be better prepared. By working with homeland security experts, we will make New Jersey's fuel supply and distribution systems more resilient, ensuring a more reliable source of fuel when it's most needed."
The State will make funding available under the federal Hazard Mitigation Grant Program to more than 250 fuel stations located along key thoroughfares identified by state homeland security and emergency management personnel. Eligible station owners will use the funds to purchase generators or permanent connection points for mobile generators, also known as "quick connects." Stations were targeted for the program based on factors including proximity to evacuation routes and fuel storage capacity. The program is voluntary.
In addition, the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness (OHSP) will collaborate with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and receive technical assistance to increase resiliency of the State's petroleum storage and distribution and supply systems. Beginning in January 2014 through June 2014, DHS will conduct comprehensive infrastructure field assessments in cooperation with the State and private sector owners and operators.
Currently, all 22 gas stations located on the Garden State Parkway, the New Jersey Turnpike, and the Atlantic City Expressway are equipped with back-up power for outages. Under this generator incentive program, a significantly broader reach of gas stations within a quarter of a mile of key evacuation routes across the State would benefit from quicker access to back-up energy.
The generator incentive program is two-tiered:
More than 200 retail stations along targeted routes with fuel storage capacity between 30,000 gallons and 35,000 gallons are eligible for up to $15,000 to purchase quick connect technology or offset a portion of the cost of purchasing a generator.
More than 50 retail stations along targeted routes with fuel storage capacity greater than 35,000 gallons are eligible for up to $65,000 in funding toward the purchase and installation of an onsite generator, which will cover in most instances the full cost of equipment and installation.
"Equipping fuel stations with back-up power on key transportation routes improves our ability in an emergency to safely direct residents out of harm's way," New Jersey State Police Colonel Rick Fuentes said. "Generator readiness is a sound hazard mitigation strategy that aids emergency management officials in both response and recovery efforts."
Under the grant parameters, eligible fuel stations are required to serve both diesel and gasoline, except in very limited instances where a station does not sell diesel but is the only available retail fuel outlet within a quarter mile of an identified evacuation route. In addition, a limited number of gas stations with less than a 30,000 gallon capacity are eligible for $15,000 in grant funding as they were also the only stations available on an identified evacuation route.
Eligible fuel stations identified on and near evacuation routes will be provided with program details and grant applications. A full listing and statewide map of eligible stations and the targeted routes is available on the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management website at www.ready.nj.gov.
The State continues to collaborate with liquid fuel suppliers and distributors to explore ways to harden critical infrastructure, and ensure optimal communication and coordination in times of disaster. As part of this collaboration, New Jersey's OHSP recently applied for, and was selected by, the federal DHS to conduct the Regional Resiliency Assessment Program (RRAP) on the State's petroleum transportation and distribution system. New Jersey is one of ten Fiscal Year 2014 RRAP project sites to be approved by DHS.
"Distribution and transportation of petroleum before, during and after an emergency event are essential components of our preparedness planning, "OHSP Director Edward Dickson said. "By working in coordination with federal, state and local agencies as well as our private sector partners through the RRAP framework, we will gain a better understanding of the steps necessary to build a more resilient petroleum sector infrastructure."
The RRAP will incorporate lessons learned from Superstorm Sandy to further examine the dependencies and interdependencies on critical infrastructure supporting New Jersey's petroleum distribution system. DHS will provide the State and private sector the results and findings from the comprehensive assessment, including resiliency opportunities and options for enhancing disaster preparedness.
Ensuring the availability of liquid fuels in the event of an emergency is another step in the Christie Administration's comprehensive strategy to enhance the state's energy resiliency.
In addition to the generator incentive program for retail fuel stations, the State is acquiring and will maintain a strategic cache of emergency generators that can be deployed through state emergency responders during a major power outage to critical assets such as shelters, hospitals, public safety facilities, and retail fuel stations. The generator cache will be stored by the New Jersey Department of Transportation at strategically located facilities to help cover north, central and south response needs.
Other energy resilience initiatives being pursued by the State include: an energy allocation program, which will provide 146 municipalities, counties, and other government entities with funding and technical assistance to pursue innovative technologies that will enhance energy resilience for critical assets; and the State's collaboration with the U.S. Department of Energy and Sandia National Laboratories to design "NJ TransitGrid," a first of its kind transportation microgrid capable of providing highly reliable power in the event the larger electrical grid fails .