11/12/2012 11:54 am ET Updated Jan 12, 2013

Hurricane Sandy Power Restoration: The Last 60 Feet

Here we are 15 days since Hurricane Sandy hit New York, and some people still don't have electric power restored. Why are some people still without power? The power grid consists of the transmission lines (high voltage from power plants to substations), distribution lines (lines of lower voltage power from substations to poles and underground cables to neighborhoods), and the last few feet from the pole to your home or business. The utility company is responsible for restoring power from the transmission lines to the distribution lines. They are also responsible for the service entrance cable that connects power from the pole to your house. Where this cable reaches your home, there is a weather head that is the separation point of utility responsibility and customer responsibility. From that point into your home, the equipment is customer-owned property and the customer's responsibility to repair if damaged.

The last 60 feet or so may be the reason why power has not been turned on. The customer's equipment may be in disrepair, in need of repair by an electrician at customer expense. If this is the case, power will not be restored until the customer arranges to have the problem corrected.

Unfortunately, many customers are unaware of such damage. Utility workers will sometimes inform the customer that repairs are needed, but sometimes not. Check with your utility company to see if distribution lines have been energized where you live. Then check to see if your own equipment is damaged. This will require a licensed electrician to inspect and repair at the customer's expense. In some cases, home insurance will pay for the repair. Check with your insurance carrier.

In areas serviced by underground lines, such damage is rare. It is common, however, where electricity is delivered overhead, on lines attached to poles.