Frustrated residents protest outside NY utility

Nearly 138,000 homes and businesses in Long Island still don't have power.

NEW YORK — Even as the lights came for many who lost power in New York and New Jersey during the superstorm and a later nor'easter, hundreds of residents protested Saturday outside a Long Island utility, frustrated by its slow response to the power outages.

Power restoration has been slower on New York's suburban Long Island than in other areas hit by Superstorm Sandy, sparking criticism of the Long Island Power Authority. Nearly 138,000 homes and businesses there still didn't have power Saturday, LIPA said.

About 300 people staged a rally in front of LIPA's office in Hicksville, N.Y. Not all were without power, but some who have power said they were there to protest LIPA's lack of communication.

"We are sitting in a cold house. No one comes by," said John Mangin of Levittown, N.Y. "There should be criminal charges against the CEO and the executive board of LIPA for failure to do their jobs."

The utility scheduled a news conference for later Saturday to address complaints.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has called for investigation of the region's utilities, criticizing them as unprepared and badly managed. On Friday, two congressmen from Long Island called for the federal government to help LIPA restore electricity.

"It's a totally disorganized effort, and LIPA unfortunately seems to have lost control of the situation and that's why you see so many people becoming so angry," Rep. Peter King said Saturday.

In New York City and neighboring suburban Westchester County, utility Con Edison said it has restored electricity to 98 percent of homes and businesses. About 20,000 of the utility's customers remained powerless, down from a peak of more than 1 million.

In New Jersey, more than 100,000 customers were without power Saturday, most along the coast, utilities said. That was down from 2.7 million at the height of the storm. Most service was expected to be restored by the end of the weekend.

Those figures don't include tens of thousands of homes too damaged to juice up in the hard-hit New York City borough of Staten Island and on New Jersey's barrier islands.