Legislation designed to help ensure hospitals and other critical health care facilities get power back as soon as possible during an emergency cleared the full Assembly Monday by a 76-0 vote.
The legislation would require the Board of Public Utilities to adopt rules and regulations requiring electric public utility companies to give hospitals, assisted living facilities, nursing homes, chronic or acute renal dialysis facilities and research laboratories or institutes that store human blood or human DNA priority consideration for power restoration after an extended outage following a major event.
The bill requires the board to allow a utility to exercise its discretion to prioritize power restoration to any of the above facilities after an extended power outage in accordance with the facilities’ needs and with the characteristics of the geographic area in which power shall be restored.
Assembly Bill 436 was sponsored by Assembly Democrats Gary Schaer 36th District; Angelica Jimenez, 32nd District; Benjie Wimberly, 35th District; Raj Mukherji, 33rd District; Daniel Benson, 14th District; and Annette Quijano, 20th District.
“If any good came out of Sandy, it was the lessons we learned in the aftermath as we attempted to resume a sense of normalcy throughout our state,” said Schaer in a prepared statement. “While hospitals are equipped with back-up generators, they can only last so long, making it imperative that we place a priority on getting these critical facilities back up and running as quickly as possible.”
The bill is headed to the Senate for further consideration.
“Facilities that house the critically ill and those with sensitive health needs must be made a priority during prolonged power outages,” said Wimberly. “Someone who relies on oxygen support or blood transfusions or dialysis, simply cannot go days without power. It’s as simple as that.”
“A power outage is an inconvenience for any resident,” said Benson. “For seniors and those who reside in a medical facility, a prolonged power outage can jeopardize health conditions. By putting them first in line for power restoration, we help to ensure access to the care their lives may depend on.”