East Coast Utilities Prep for Huge Power Outages

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East Coast utility companies are preparing for widespread and lengthy power outages as a result of Hurricane Irene.

Irene has been forecasted to stay just offshore as it moves up the Eastern Seaboard, meaning it could retain much of its power.

Flooding rains and high winds could drop many trees onto power lines, affecting an unusually large number of people.

Meanwhile, East Coast refineries -- located in Virginia, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey -- are shutting down.

"Even if the storm eventually misses them, they can't take chances," said Ben Brockwell at the Oil Price Information Service, which monitors fuel shipments around the country.

As a result of the closings, gas prices have begun to skyrocket.

Once the storm passes it may take several days for the refineries to start operating again.

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