At the Mercy of ConEd

Radio Shack Fireball (NYMag)

Turns out, the ground has been exploding a lot recently. I try to lead my life with some sense of rationality, but I’m giving serious thought to adding this to my irrational random fears list. (Along with expired eggs/milk, swarms of pigeons and getting KO’d by a falling fire escape ladder.) Since this is NYC and not Iraq I would assume this type of news would sound some alarms, but the explosions of manhole covers or random explosive incidents have grown so frequent that most of us have become desensitized to this type of news.  Now I am not a physicist or engineer, so I do not pretend to understand the intricacies of electrical wiring or steam pipes, but I do understand that these explosions are happening with alarming frequency and that Con Ed is the source of the problem.

On Monday a manhole exploded in Times Square, and luckily didn’t injure or kill anyone. However, the incident was right after the attempted Times Square bombing so it understandably scared the bejesus out of everyone nearby.  The problem? Con Ed’s wires started smoking underground.

Then there is the ol’ Radio Shack explosion back in February. The Shack on 6th Ave. spontaneously exploded after a transformer fire erupted into a 7-story high fireball. A result of a ConEd’s transformer malfunction after workers left.

And let’s not forget electrocution! Back in 2004 a Columbia grad was electrocuted along with her dog after stepping on a manhole cover that conducted a bit too much electricity. Coworkers warned me to stay off metal grates and covers when it was raining outside, not only because your stilettos will get stuck and make you trip like a fool, but because stepping on the ground covers could lead to your electric demise.

So not only is Con Ed grossly overcharging for energy, they’re making walking around the city a game of landmines!  (There are far many more incidents than described above.) Apparently they know it, too, as the Post last year discovered that Con Ed eased testing for stray voltage over the past two years.  Sure the bedrock of Manhattan is somewhat of a mystery, with all of its layers and being continually built up over the past few centuries. But the only people I really see consistently digging into that bedrock is Con Ed— and they manage to hastily cover up whatever hole they created in two days, even if it explodes shortly thereafter.  A small price to pay to power your microwave, hair dryer or alarm clock, some would say. All I know is I would walk these streets with caution, or walk quickly— I’m really not sure which.

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