Hurricane Irene cost the Long Island Power Authority $176 million, which could leave Long Island ratepayers on the hook for about a quarter of the cost. The tab was about $6 million above the highest estimates, Newsday reported.

LIPA, the No. 2 municipal power authority in the U.S., serves more than 1.1 million electricity customers in Nassau and Suffolk counties in New York.

It was created from the bankrupt Long Island Lighting Co. after the collapse of the ill-fated Shoreham nuclear power plant in 1986 by Gov. Mario Cuomo, father of current Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

LIPA said about 75 percent of the tab for repairing its grid should be covered by U.S. government funds for disaster relief provided by the Obama Administration.

The $176 million total far exceed LIPA'     s storm budget of $47 million for 2011. The Hicksville, N.Y, based utility's most expensive storm ever had been last year's winter nor'easter that cost $68 million.

One reason why LIPA's bill is so high is because it had 7,500 workers on hurricane duty, including 3,500 from out-of-town, to deal with Irene problems. It also had to restore hundreds of miles of wires, as well as transformers and poles.

LIPA CEO Michael Hervey said the Irene bill might result in a 2012 rate increase. He said it was too early to determine if the utility would apply to Albany for one, though.