July 28, 2010
Hon Nicholas Asselta, Commissioner
NJ Board of Public Utilities
Two Gateway Center
Newark, NJ 07102
RE: August 12 Contact Voltage
Dear Commissioner Asselta:
Thank you for providing us with the Notice of Stakeholder Meeting Regarding Contact Voltage on August 12, 2010 at 10:00 a.m. in the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities Hearing Room at Two Gateway Center, 8th Floor, Newark.
Contact voltage, or stray voltage, arises when an underground electrical system is breached and electric charge escapes to a structure that the public will come into contact with, such as a light pole, a metal fence, a manhole, a phone booth, a park bench, etc. It has apparently been responsible for injuries and deaths, particularly in older cities. The stray voltage can result from degraded electrical wires, damaged insulation, collapsed ducts, construction damage, tree roots, etc.
Though we will be unable to participate at the Stakeholder Meeting, we hope that you will share these considerations with your fellow Commissioners and all other interested parties.
With the potential for serious threats to the public’s safety, with continued State diversions of statutorily dedicated municipal revenue replacement funding, and with tight new limits on local government revenue raising capacity, we would urge the Board to consider the following recommendations.
--Testing for stray voltage should be proactive, not reactive. In other words, it should be done routinely and not only after an accident.
--The cost for testing should be borne by the utility companies.
--New regulations must not put any new burden on local government. Local health departments must not be responsible for testing, enforcement or oversight.
Again, thank you for soliciting the League’s municipal perspective on this matter. If I can be of further assistance on this, or any, matter, please contact me.
Very truly yours,
William G. Dressel, Jr.