PSEG works to restore power to 600,000 NJ customers after Sandy

Sat Nov 3, 2012 11:37am EDT

(Reuters) - New Jersey-based utility Public Service Enterprise Group said on Saturday that more than 600,000 of its customers remain without power following Hurricane Sandy, but it has been able to restore power to some 1.1 million customers so far.

PSEG CEO Ralph LaRossa said during a conference call that the utility has brought all of its 42 switching stations back into operation and has restored operations at 220 of its 240 substations.

That has helped return power to most PSEG customers affected by Sandy. At the peak of outages earlier this week, some 1.7 million PSEG customers had no power.

"Now it becomes the hand-to-hand combat ... as we start to work on specific towns," said LaRossa.

PSEG, based in Newark, New Jersey, has hundreds of linemen working to restore connections to individual homes and residential areas, company officials said. It expects to add hundreds more temporary workers in the days to come.

According to figures from the U.S. Department of Energy, some 2.5 million customers across seven states, including 1.28 million customers of PSEG and other utilities in New Jersey, were still without power as of early Saturday. This was down from 3.5 million in 11 states on Friday.

Among the areas still suffering widespread power outages was Hoboken, New Jersey, LaRossa said. The low-lying city on the Hudson River is located across from Manhattan. Historic flood surges knocked out power there on Monday and Tuesday, and waters were slow to recede following the storm.

PSEG said it had large crews working to restore electricity to areas of Hoboken, but it did not offer a specific timeline for when the work would be finished.

Meanwhile, utility Consolidated Edison was able to restore power to several storm-hit areas of Lower Manhattan. Con Ed said on Saturday it has restored power to 70 percent of New York City customers who suffered Sandy-related outages.

Among the areas where power was turned back on early Saturday were Wall Street, Chinatown and Greenwich Village in Lower Manhattan, although some 11,000 Con Ed customers in Manhattan remained without power.

(Reporting by Joshua Schneyer; Editing by Jackie Frank)