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National Grid: Number of power outages far lower than expected

A downed tree took out power lines on

A downed tree took out power lines on Accabonac Road in East Hampton. (Feb. 9, 2013) Photo Credit: Gordon M. Grant

Power outages were a relative footnote of this weekend's winter storm.

In all, only about 43,000 customers lost power between Friday and Saturday night, National Grid reported Saturday, thanks largely to winds that were considerably less forceful than expected.

By Saturday night, more than 37,000 of those had been restored, and utility officials said they expected to have most of the remaining work done within a day.

"The system held up very well," said National Grid spokeswoman Wendy Ladd. "We didn't get the winds that were predicted, so we lucked out." The company had predicted up to 100,000 outages.

John Bruckner, president of National Grid's Long Island electric operations, said nearly all the utility's work was focused east of the Nassau-Suffolk line. "This was a Suffolk County storm, not only the damage but also the challenges we had in getting to the damage locations," he said.

He said the utility benefited from having hundreds of off-Island crews on the ground before the storm hit. "It always makes a difference," he said.

Bruckner said the bulk of the restoration work will be completed Sunday. Even with rain and snowmelt expected Monday, Bruckner said National Grid does not expect significant new outages.

The 43,000 outages -- mostly in the East End -- contrasted with about one million during superstorm Sandy, when LIPA/National Grid had nearly 15,000 workers on the ground. This storm was handled with fewer than 1,000.

The biggest problem was getting to snow-blocked neighborhoods, Ladd said. "We're having problems getting to Southold, and Brookhaven was hit pretty hard," she said.

Still, the utility, which has taken a leading role for this storm, said it restored power to most who lost it within four hours. "We expect to be able to finish this up in the next 48 hours if we can get access to the homes," Ladd said Saturday night.

Ladd said winds topped out at about 50 mph, lower than the expected 70 mph. As of 9:30 p.m. Saturday, 5,456 customers were still without power.

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