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Many in Northeast remain without power after Sandy

By Bloomberg News

NEW YORK - About 974,000 power customers entered a second week without electricity following Hurricane Sandy as temperatures dropped below freezing in parts of devastated New Jersey, New York and Connecticut.

Blackouts declined as electric utilities restored power to about 198,000 homes and businesses overnight, the Department of Energy reported on its website. The work came as utilities and state officials warned of renewed power failures from a coastal storm expected to strike damaged areas today.

Temperatures remained below freezing at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday morning at Atlantic City on the New Jersey Shore, the National Weather Service reported. The cold intensified pressure on elected officials and utilities to complete repairs as another coastal storm forecast to arrive tomorrow might bring another wave of power losses.

"We still have people in peril," New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday in a press conference. "The progress is unacceptable. To say that I am angry, to say that I'm frustrated, disappointed, would be the understatement of the decade."

Sandy struck near Atlantic City at 8 p.m. local time Oct. 29, eventually knocking out power to 8.5 million homes and businesses in 21 states, according to the Energy Department.

Cuomo reiterated a warning issued last week that utilities may lose their license to operate if their response is found lacking. Utilities have warned some customers may not have power back until next week.

New Jersey remained hardest hit, with more than 500,000 customers of Public Service Enterprise Group and First Energy's Jersey Central Power & Light in the dark Tuesday morning, according to websites and statements. About 14 percent of the state was still without power, the Energy Department said.

Only about 6 percent of blacked-out New Jersey customers were restored between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. Monday, according to data compiled by Bloomberg Industries from Energy Department reports. More than 2 million homes and businesses in the state have got their power back after initial losses.

As of Monday, power restoration after Sandy lagged behind efforts for last year's Hurricane Irene, which drew customer complaints and state investigations of utility preparation and response, according to data compiled by Bloomberg Industries.

Based on the rate so far, New Jersey utilities will need another four days to restore most customers, meaning they will have been blacked out for 12 days, Bloomberg Industries projected.

"Having 2 million more people with power doesn't mean a damn to you unless you are one of those 2 million people," New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Monday in Keansburg. Christie said his home in Mendham is still blacked out.

Consolidated Edison, owner of New York City's largest utility, reported about 116,000 customers still without power Tuesday morning in an area that includes Westchester County, about 44,000 fewer than a day earlier, according to data compiled from its website.

The New York Public Service Commission probably will investigate Con Edison's preparation and its response to Hurricane Sandy, the utility said Monday in a quarterly filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The company said it will defer storm costs and may seek higher rates to pay for them. It's too early for Con Edison to assess the damage and recovery cost, according to the filing.

To the east, the Long Island Power Authority reported 200,000 customers without power as of 11 a.m. Tuesday. The tally excluded the devastated Rockaway Peninsula and islands to the east where many buildings are too damaged to use power, it said.

Today, gusts as intense as 60 mph may sweep across New York and New Jersey, where cleanup operations following Sandy are still under way, according to the National Weather Service. Flooding along the coast is expected from Delaware to Connecticut, including New Jersey and Long Island, where tides may rise as much as 3 feet above normal.

"It just looks like the worst of the storm for the Northeast is going to be coastal New Jersey, the city and southern Long Island," said Rob Carolan of Hometown Forecast Services in Nashua, N.H. "The wind may cause some issues with weakened trees coming down and power lines that had just been repaired."

Brick Township, N.J., issued a mandatory evacuation order for flood-prone neighborhoods, effective at 6 p.m. local time Tuesday, according to the town's website. Other residents "are strongly encouraged to evacuate," according to the notice a notice.

About 31 percent of the 36,000 homes and businesses in Brick remained without power Tuesday, according to the website of utility Jersey Central Power & Light.

 


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