Danger! Stray Voltage!

That seems to have been the message from a recent ConEdison disclosure at a City Council hearing yesterday. Since the January 2004 death of an East Village woman who was electrocuted while walking her dog ConEd began undertaking an examination of all of the electrical equipment on city streets. 728,789 pieces of equipment were tested. Along the way they found 1,214 instances of stray voltage on 1,083 streetlights, 99 utility poles and 32 power-distribution structures "like manholes, services boxes and transformer vaults."

Of course, having the voltage quantified by ConEd hasn't exactly stopped it from being an issue of late.

Which is why, one assumes, Peter Vallone is up in arms about the issue, quipping to ConEd that "Your slogan needs to change from 'On It' to 'Don't Step on It.'" Oh, snap! You think ConEd is going to sit back and take that? Maybe!

But first they want to point out that in April they get five new "vehicle-mounted stray-voltage detection machines linked to video cameras," AKA the Sarnoff SVD2000(the video claims "There's nothing like it, and it's available now!"). ConEd says they will reduce the time it takes for them to sweep Manhattan for stray voltage after a snowstorm from three months to about a week.

Not to mention the ID/Barcodes that have been given to all 172,000 poles holding streetlights and traffic signals that have been installed since the war on stray voltage was declared. Or the 5,000 isolation transformers, "devices that prevent current from flowing through a streetlight if the wiring to the light fails," that they plan to install in the next year. So maybe, hopefully, next year we'll find out that at least some of these new initiatives will have had a positive effect.

SVD2000 from the Sarnoff site.