Power still out for nearly 1 million in US East after Sandy

NEW YORK Wed Nov 7, 2012 6:17am IST

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Homes and businesses along the U.S. East Coast continued to face power outages on Tuesday caused by damage from Superstorm Sandy, but the number of outages had dropped below one million for the first time since the storm hit more than a week ago.

Sandy's winds and 14-foot storm surge last week toppled power lines and flooded areas that held generating equipment, knocking power out to more than 8 million in 21 states at its peak.

Some 930,000 homes and businesses were still without power as of Tuesday afternoon, the U.S. Department of Energy said in a report.

Nearly 350,000 customers in New York still had no power as of 2 p.m. EST (1900 GMT) on Tuesday, U.S. government data showed, after peak outages of 2 million.

New Jersey remained the hardest-hit state, with more than a half million homes and businesses with no power more than a week after the storm hit on October 29 down from a peak of 2.6 million.

Public Service Enterprise Group Inc (PEG.N), the largest electric utility by customer base in New Jersey, said on Tuesday that 226,900 customers remained without power down from a peak of 1.7 million.

The company expects to have power restored to those customers by Friday, a spokeswoman said.

New York power company Consolidated Edison (ED.N) said it had 107,000 customers still without electricity, out of 990,000 affected by the hurricane.

About 20,000 of those customers cannot be reconnected to system until their electrical equipment is inspected, John Miksad, Senior VP of Electric Operations for Con Ed, said during a conference call late on Tuesday.

A "nor'easter" is expected to arrive in the region on Wednesday with strong winds as well as a mix of rain and wet snow, which may hamper repairs and cause more outages in already affected areas, Miksad added.

Con Edison had shut off power to part of lower Manhattan last week ahead of the storm's October 29 arrival to protect equipment and set itself up for quicker repairs and restorations after the storm passed.

It said it does not expect to have to do the same on Wednesday as the storm surge would not be as high as Sandy's.

Long Island was another New York area hard hit by Sandy.

The Long Island Power Authority had 192,719 customers without power on Tuesday evening, down from about 1 million at its peak, a spokeswoman said.

The company said it was on track to have 90 percent of those customers restored to power by Wednesday evening. (Reporting by Jeanine Prezioso, desking by G Crosse)

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