Pity the powerless: 500,000 still have no electricity after storm

WASHINGTON -- Most, but not all, East Coast and Midwest residents had regained power Thursday in the wake of widespread power outages sparked by last weekend’s 600-mile-long band of storms.

More than 500,000 customers in the mid-Atlantic region remained without power amid an ongoing heat wave, according to estimates from local utility companies. In West Virginia, the hardest-hit area, more than 230,000 customers still had no power Thursday.

Utility companies were estimating that it could take until Sunday to restore power to all their customers.

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The storms disrupted electric service for about 4.3 million customers in the mid-Atlantic region at the height of problem, according to estimates from the Edison Electric Institute. The storms caused the largest number of non-hurricane-related power outages in Virginia history, the institute said.

The Potomac Electric Power Co., or Pepco, which has been criticized by customers for slow repairs, had restored power to 96% of affected homes and businesses in Washington and the Maryland suburbs by Thursday. But the remaining 6% of customers could expect to be without power until as late as Sunday night, officials said. At the height of the power outages, 443,000 Pepco customers lost power.

Baltimore Gas and Electric had restored power to 93% of affected customers in Baltimore and central Maryland. Still, 49,993 customers were waiting for their electricity and air conditioning to come back on. In Virginia and parts of North Carolina, 23,988 Dominion Power customers remained without electricity.

Meanwhile, several days of thunderstorms this week have also left about 300,000 utility customers without power in Michigan.

As of Thursday morning, 210,000 DTE Energy Co. customers were without power, and Consumers Energy was reporting about 90,000 customers without power.

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