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Over 6 million remain without power in Northeast

By: Scott DiSavino |

About 6.2 million homes and businesses in 16 states remained without power on Wednesday as utilities scrambled to restore service disrupted by Hurricane Sandy, federal data showed.

The power companies had restored electricity to some 2 million customers in the U.S. Northeast, although the pace of recovery in New York appeared to lag behind other storm-hit states, the data showed.

At the storm’s peak, 8.48 million customers were without power after Sandy came ashore with hurricane-force winds in New Jersey on Monday, according to a Department of Energy collection of data.

Power has been restored to nearly 600,000 customers in New Jersey, out of more than 2.6 million, although more than half the state still remains in the dark, according to the data as of 10 a.m. EDT.

But in New York, Sandy, which knocked out power to nearly a third of the customers in New York City and Westchester County, only about 165,000 customers of the total 2.1 million in the state have seen power restored, according to the figures.

The DOE did not provide any further comment or explanation for the figures.

In New York, power company Consolidated Edison Inc said about 786,000 homes and businesses in New York City and Westchester County were still without power due to the storm’s devastation.

Con Edison said its crews had restored service to about 109,000 customers by 11:00 a.m. EDT Wednesday.

That is less than the estimated 140,000 customers the company said it restored on Tuesday. Officials at Con Edison were not immediately available to explain the difference.

Con Edison said those customers still out include: about 237,000 customers in Manhattan, 115,000 in Staten Island, 109,000 in Queens, 108,000 in Brooklyn, 40,000 in the Bronx, and 176,000 in Westchester County.

Customers in Manhattan and Brooklyn, who are served by underground electric equipment, should have power back within three days.

Restoration to all customers in other areas served by overhead power lines will take at least a week.

Con Edison said Sandy was the largest storm-related outage in its history. The previous record was the more than 200,000 customers affected by Hurricane Irene in 2011.

Irene left more than 8.38 million customers out along the U.S. East Coast from South Carolina to Maine.

Tuesday night, Con Edison said it cut power to about 160,000 customers in southern Brooklyn and central Staten Island due to Sandy-related problems on high-voltage systems supplying electricity to those areas.

The company also said it reduced the voltage in several neighborhoods in Brooklyn by 8 percent Tuesday night as workers fixed problems there.

On Wednesday, the company said Sandy knocked down more than 100,000 electric wires. Some roads were blocked by trees or flooding, slowing those working to restore power in areas served by overhead wires like Westchester.

For areas served by underground wires like Manhattan, Con Edison said workers must clean and dry equipment of seawater before it can be safely placed back in service.

Con Edison said it has secured assistance from 1,400 external contractors and mutual aid workers from utilities as far west as California to help with the restoration efforts.