Stray voltage detection improves safety

Con Edison’s stray voltage detection program nets six years of improved safety.

New York, February 21, 2011—Con Edison’s aggressive stray voltage detection program produced another year of results in 2010, as the number of reported electric shocks plunged.

The company said 59 shocks were reported last year, a 30 percent drop from the 84 reported in 2009. Last year’s number was 79 percent lower than the 285 shocks reported in 2004, the first year of the company’s program to detect and fix energized objects. The number of shocks has decreased six straight years, or every year since the program began.

The number of shocks reported from Con Edison equipment has declined even more. Fifteen shocks were reported from the company’s equipment last year, compared with 24 a year earlier and 210 in 2004. The company reported the 2010 results in an annual filing with the New York State Public Service Commission.

“These numbers make it clear that our innovative program is making New York City’s streets safer,” said John Miksad, senior vice president of Electric Operations for Con Edison. “We have crews on the street nearly every night scanning for stray voltage. And when we find a hazard, we move quickly to make it safe, even if our equipment is not the source of the problem.”

Stray voltage, also known as contact voltage, occurs when defective wires or cables energize objects such as manhole covers, lampposts, metal scaffolding or fencing. Wet conditions and road salt make it more likely for these objects to conduct electricity.

Con Edison urges anyone who suspects stray voltage to call 1-800-75-CONED. The company also recommends that people keep pets away from metal objects.

Con Edison tests nearly 750,000 structures, including manholes, service boxes, underground transformers, and city or municipally-owned street and traffic lights.

The number of energized objects has dropped as Con Edison has performed more scans. The company scanned more than 70,000 miles of city streets last year. The company found and made safe 2,099 pieces of equipment in 2004. By 2009, that number reached 6,267 before dropping back to 4,717 last year. More than 60 percent of the stray voltage conditions the company found last year were due to failures on non-company equipment.

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