At a news conference in Montgomery County, Governor Tom Corbett said the impact of Wednesday's ice and snow storm was close to the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy.
"There are people that are going to be without electricity for a couple days and we hope that they have the patience and understanding that these men and women are working as hard as they can," Corbett said.
The governor declared a disaster emergency in the southeastern part of the state, which was hit the hardest.
PECO, the main power supplier there, had more than 400,000 customers in the dark.
The governor requested a declaration of emergency, signed Thursday by President Barack Obama, for seven southeastern Pennsylvania counties; Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Lancaster, Montgomery, Philadelphia and York.
"We are getting generators. We are working with our emergency operation centers to get fair distribution of these. I can tell you nursing homes and places like that will be the first to receive them," Corbett said.
The governor is urging people to seek out shelters instead of using alternate heat sources.
"We have people that use kerosene heaters or charcoal grills for heat. We are very concerned when you do that because of carbon monoxide poisoning, and we do not want to see any loss of life to that because we have shelters available and they are not being utilized fully," Corbett said. "This is going to be a couple day event and it is going to be very cold. The temperature is going to continue to go down."
According to the Public Utility Commission, more than 5,000 utility workers are working 16-hour shifts to restore power.