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TheStreet Open House

Power Outage Time After Sandy Not Extraordinary

Frustrated residents, business owners and state and local officials lashed out at their electric utilities. Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York formed a commission to investigate the responses of utilities in his state, and the operations chief of one utility, the Long Island Power Authority, resigned.

Cuomo called LIPA "beyond repair" and also expressed frustration with the performance of Consolidated Edison, the electric utility for New York City and Westchester County to the north.

Also, a positive general performance doesn't create any goodwill for those still suffering.

Sam Kusack, who owns an architectural metal fabrication shop in Red Hook, Brooklyn, was still without power Thursday, 17 days after going dark. Red Hook is in an isolated section of Brooklyn, and Con Edison only began laying new underground wires near his shop this week.

Workers told him power would be back by Friday, but, Kusack said, the utility had called him several times in the early days of the crisis to say his power would soon be restored. Those calls stopped long ago, and Kusack has continued to rely on a generator that gobbles expensive diesel fuel.

"It was a big storm, but it's been a while," he said. "It's tough to run a company on a generator, with no power. I have 25 employees, and a payroll to meet."

The fact that it has taken utilities roughly the same amount of time to restore the vast majority of customers as after similar-sized storms suggests that restoring power after an enormous weather event is simply a long, difficult process.

"The work is no magic, it's hard, grueling work," says Arshad Mansoor of the Electric Power Research Institute, an industry-funded technology research group.

Sandy's most prominent feature was its enormous footprint and record number of outages. All told, Sandy caused 8.5 million power outages across 21 states, the highest outage total ever.

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