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Con Edison Employee From Red Bank, N.J. Wins Industry Award for Safety Research

A Con Edison employee from Red Bank, N.J. has won a prestigious industry recognition for research findings that improve public safety.

Colleen Murach, an operating supervisor in Brooklyn and Queens, received the Technology Transfer Award from the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI).

She and Con Edison colleague Mark Riddle, an engineer in Distribution Engineering, represented Con Edison on a task force that looked for ways to make the low-voltage electric distribution system safer and more reliable.

“Safe, reliable energy is imperative in New York, home to millions, host to visitors from all over the world, and where top health-care, technology and educational institutions do their important work,” said Tim Cawley, president of Con Edison. “The work of our researchers will help us continue to provide the excellent service that is essential in this vibrant region.”

The research included simulating manhole events at EPRI’s Lenox, Mass. laboratory to determine the most effective latch designs for protecting the public.

Con Edison has installed more than 750 latched covers on its manholes. The latch keeps the cover in place if heat and gases build up in the manhole.

One latch design Con Edison uses lets the cover lift slightly on all sides in response to pressure and then settle back into place. An alternative design that the research determined to also be effective allows the cover to lift slightly on one side while remaining hinged on the opposite side.

Manhole events tend to occur following winter storms when melting snow and road salt wash into the underground electrical delivery system. If that salty water gets through the insulation on the wires and makes contact with the copper, it can generate heat. The burning insulation creates gas and smoke. A spark from the wires can ignite the gases.

Summer heat waves can also cause manhole events because the underground cables become hot as the demand for power rises due to customers using their air conditioners to stay comfortable.

The installation of latched covers is one of a number of programs Con Edison has to improve manhole safety. The company has begun piloting the placement of bags of light pebbles in manholes to reduce the impact of manhole events.

Con Edison crews use thermal-imaging cameras to locate hot spots on cable. Crews are also placing wireless sensors in manholes to detect heat and gases that can indicate a repair is needed.

Murach, who has worked for the company since 2014, and Riddle, who joined Con Edison in 2011, were among four company employees who won Technology Transfer Awards for work on the manhole research.

Josephine Aromando, a senior engineer in Research and Development, and Stan Lewis, a section manager in Distribution Engineering, were also honored.

In addition, Jozsef Szabo, a senior engineer who works in Equipment & Field Engineering, received a Technology Transfer Award for a separate project. He led the company’s adoption of a lubrication kit for substation equipment, including circuit breakers.

Working with EPRI, Szabo developed a process that uses the kit to clean breakers without disassembly. The lubricant works its way into hard-to-reach parts of the breaker mechanism.

Con Edison is a subsidiary of Consolidated Edison, Inc. [NYSE: ED], one of the nation’s largest investor-owned energy companies, with approximately $12 billion in annual revenues and $54 billion in assets. The utility delivers electricity, natural gas and steam to 3.4 million customers in New York City and Westchester County, N.Y. For financial, operations and customer service information, visit