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ConEd: NY Sandy power outages slip; costs could reach $450 million

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Consolidated Edison Inc on Sunday said about 3,900 customers in New York City and Westchester County remained without electricity nearly two weeks after Hurricane Sandy battered the U.S. Northeast.

Con Edison said its crews and thousands of utility workers from around the country were working to restore power to its more than 1 million customers affected by Sandy and the Nor'easter storm that followed a week later.

Response and restoration costs for both storms were estimated at $350 million to $450 million, the company said in a statement.

Con Edison said it used its experience with Hurricane Irene in August 2011 - previously the largest storm in the company's history - as a basis for the cost estimates, but said Sandy caused five times as many outages as Irene.

Hurricane Sandy came ashore on October 29 in southern New Jersey. A record storm surge across the Northeast, including in New York City, caused flooding and widespread damage to much of Con Edison's underground electrical equipment. In areas with overhead power lines, workers had to contend with more than 100,000 downed wires, blocked roads and flooding.

Con Edison said it was "on track" to restore power by the end of the weekend to virtually all customers who were affected by Sandy and whose equipment can accept service.

In shoreline communities in Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island, the company had identified about 30,000 customers who needed electrical equipment repaired and certified as safe before service could be restored.

Approximately 8,000 of those customers now had service, but others would not able to get service until their own internal equipment was repaired, tested and certified by an electrician as ready.

The company said it was working with the New York City Buildings Department to expedite restoration for those customers, and it continued to work closely with the New York City Office of Emergency Management, the Westchester Office of Emergency Services and other emergency officials.

Con Edison said it had gone through a year's worth of some materials since Sandy, including the replacement of 60 miles of electric cable, and it has responded to "tens of thousands of locations."

(Reporting by Eileen Houlihan in New York; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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