* LIPA to restore last 15,000 Long Island outages post-Sandy
* Flood-damaged homes need repairs before power restored
* Fitch revises credit outlook on LIPA to negative
By Scott DiSavino
NEW YORK, Nov 13 The Long Island Power Authority
expects to restore service on Tuesday to most of its New York
customers able to receive electricity, but more than 84,000
homes and businesses in New York and New Jersey will stay dark
due to flood damage from Hurricane Sandy.
LIPA, a New York State-owned power company, said it should
hook up almost all of the remaining 15,000 homes and businesses
that still lack service on Tuesday morning, more than two weeks
after Sandy battered the region.
But that number excludes customers within the flooded areas
of Long Island that have yet to be surveyed for damage or may
need repairs and certification by an electrician before the
company can restore service, LIPA said.
On Monday night, LIPA said about 38,000 homes and businesses
were located within the flooded areas - 26,000 on the Rockaway
Peninsula in New York City, 11,000 in Nassau County and 300 in
Other New York and New Jersey utilities had restored power
by the weekend to most customers able to take service.
However, thousands of customers remained without power due
to flood damage - especially from seawater - which may have
damaged electrical panels, wires, outlets and appliances, making
it unsafe to restore electricity.
In New York City, Consolidated Edison Inc said on
Monday it still had about 16,300 customers in flood-ravaged
areas of Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island who could not regain
electric service until they fixed their internal equipment.
In New Jersey, FirstEnergy Corp's Jersey Central
Power and Light utility has said about 30,000 customers on the
barrier islands and shoreline communities could not have power
restored due to infrastructure damage in that area.
LIPA HIT HARDEST
Sandy knocked out power to about 8.5 million customers in 21
states after hitting New Jersey on Oct. 29.
More than 1 million of LIPA's 1.1 million customers lost
power due to Sandy, while a nor'easter storm last week knocked
out 123,000 more customers - thousands of whom had had power
restored after Sandy.
Combined, Sandy and the nor'easter knocked out more homes
and businesses on Long Island than LIPA has customers.
Despite the hard hit, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has
attacked all of the affected New York power companies -
especially LIPA - for the slow pace of restoration.
Fitch Ratings, a credit rating firm, on Monday revised its
outlook on LIPA's $5.9 billion of outstanding electric system
revenue bonds to negative.
Fitch said the effects of Sandy would challenge LIPA's
already tight financial flexibility and frustrate the
authority's efforts to achieve improved financial performance.
The cost of the Sandy restoration was uncertain but would
likely exceed the $170 million LIPA spent to restore service
after Hurricane Irene in August 2011, Fitch said.
LIPA expects to recover about 75 percent of its
Sandy-related restoration costs from the U.S. Federal Emergency
Management Agency, Fitch said.
Ratepayers usually cover unreimbursed storm costs. However,
Fitch said LIPA's willingness to make customers pay more may be
limited "given the intense political pressure surrounding LIPA's
storm response and the authority's historic objective to
moderate already high electric rates".