What to Expect When the Lights Go Out

As Hurricane Sandymoves towards the shores of New Jersey on the east coast of the United States, utilities warned that strong winds, and flooding that may take place, mean it could take up to a week to restore power to all the affected locations.

What to Expect When the Lights Go Out
Allison Joyce

President of New Jersey's PSE&G Ralph LaRosa told CNBC that he expects at least the same amount of outages as in October last year when an early snow storm left millions without power for days.

"We'll have many more damaged locations than we would from a normal tropical storm coming through that may come through here. These winds are higher. But what concerns us more is really the flooding thay's going to take place," he said.

PSE&G which provides electric service to 2.2 million customers said on its website early on Monday that 829 customers were already without power due to the early effects of Hurricane Sandy.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has warned locals not to expect utilities to fix power outages promptly as high winds pose safety risks for crews.

"We usually wait for the wind to drop below 45 miles an hour before our crews will go out and actually go up into the air," LaRosa said. Crews would be assessing the situation throughout the storm.

Michael Hervey, COO of Long Island Power Authority old CNBC the utility would try to restore power for as long as possible but also warned that it could be difficult to restore power promptly once the storm hit.

"Sometime today when the winds come up we may have to stand down for safety purposes," he said.

"We have over 1,000 linemen here ready to go. I would like to have more but every utility on the East Coast would like to have more," he said.

Con Edison, which provides electricity to New York City said it had secured over 700 external contractors, including line workers, tree crews and damage assessors, to assist with storm restoration.

It warned it may have to shut down underground electrical equipment if the storm surge floods low-lying areas, such as parts of lower Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens.

"Shutting down underground equipment may avoid extensive damage to company and customer equipment, and allow company crews to restore power to customers more quickly," the group said in a statement on its website.

South of New Jersey in Delaware, the federal government was expected to declare a state of emergency later on Monday.

Delaware Governor Jack Markell said he expected people to be without power for many days and for the storm to have a significant impact across the state.

"We expect more people without power. The utilities have been bringing in people from other states," he said.