By Scott DiSavino
(Reuters) - Power companies as of Friday had restored electricity to over half of the 8.48 million customers left without service after megastorm Sandy slammed into the U.S. East Coast earlier this week, federal data showed.
Nearly 3.6 million homes and businesses in 11 U.S. states remained without power early on Friday morning, down from over 4.4 million Thursday afternoon, according to U.S. Department of Energy data.
In New Jersey, the state hit hardest by Sandy, utilities have restored power to over 1 million customers, leaving 1.5 million still waiting for their lights to be turned back on. Sandy left over 2.6 million in New Jersey without power.
New York power companies, meanwhile, still seem to be lagging behind on outage restoration with 800,000 back in service, while over 1.2 million continue to wait without it. Sandy left almost 2.1 million in New York state without power.
The hardest-hit New York power companies, such as Consolidated Edison Inc in New York City and the Long Island Power Authority on Long Island, have said Sandy is the worst-ever natural disaster to hit their customers, primarily due to record storm surge that left many low-lying neighborhoods flooded.
Pennsylvania, which is inland and not impacted by storm surge, had the third most customers out at over 1.2 million due to high wind and heavy rain. The Pennsylvania utilities have restored power to over 900,000 customers leaving over 300,000 waiting for service to return.
In total, at its peak, Sandy left 8.48 million customers in 21 states from North Carolina to Maine and as far west as Illinois without power. That was slightly more than the 8.38 million that lost service during last year's Hurricane Irene.
(Reporting by Scott DiSavino, Editing by G Crosse)