At least 300,000 people were without power along the US East Coast at mid-afternoon on Monday, Oct. 29 as rain and hurricane-force winds caused by Hurricane Sandy moved closer to shore causing outage totals to climb quickly.

The National Hurricane Center said at 3 pm EDT that the storm was moving toward southern New Jersey with landfall expected in early evening.

Jersey Central Power & Light, the First Energy utility that serves much of the New Jersey coast, reported an estimated 166,000 customers without power at 4 pm.

Public Service Electric & Gas, New Jersey’s largest utility, had 36,000 customers without power. Atlantic City Electric had 40,663 customers without power at the same time.

Delmarva Power, which serves Delaware and parts of Maryland, had 12,248 customers without power and Baltimore Gas & Electric had 28,013 without power. Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative had about 2,500 without power.

Peco, an Exelon subsidiary, is reporting 20,000 customers out in Pennsylvania. Dominion Virginia Power reported more than 7,000 customers without power at mid afternoon.

Utilities inland also saw their outages increase. First Energy’s Pennsylvania utilities had 8,312 without power, Pepco reported 4,762 customers without power in Washington, D.C., and suburbs.

In New York, where low-lying parts of Manhattan are under mandatory evacuation orders, Con Edison said at 1 pm that it had 6,500 customers without power, mostly in Brooklyn. The company is preparing for the possibility that it will have to shut off underground electrical equipment if the storm surge floods low-lying areas, such as parts of lower Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens.

To the north, about 13,625 customers in Connecticut had no power late Monday morning as Sandy's impact began to be felt in the state. Connecticut's major utilities, Connecticut Light & Power (CL&P) and Illuminating United, expect to have at least 500,000 outages, and perhaps more, during the storm. The utilities have faced criticism and regulatory review for the way they handled 2011 storms that left more than 1 million without power for extended periods.

CL&P, a Northeast Utilities utility, has 13,600 outages, scattered across the state Monday morning. The utility has about 1.2 million customers.

UI is reporting 25 outages, down from 1,059 outages earlier Monday. The utility has about 325,000 customers.

Meanwhile, Dominion Resources plans to cut the output of one of the units at its 2,102-MW Millstone nuclear plant in Waterford, Conn., starting at noon EDT, Ken Holt, company spokesman, said Monday.

The plant's 869-MW Unit 2 has been offline since October 6 for a planned refueling outage. Millstone Unit 3 will be reduced to 75% capacity from full capacity in response to the storm, he said. The 1,233-MW unit will operate at the lower capacity until its is clear there is enough demand on the grid system for it to operate at full power, he said.

CL&P and UI, which have been preparing for the storm since last week, are reinforcing substations that face possible flooding.

The storm is expected to pound the East Coast through Tuesday night. Utilities throughout the region have put crews on standby to respond to outages in the wake of the storm.

This file has been updated with the correct location for Dominion Resources' Millstone nuclear powerplant.