Valley couple says they were shocked by overhead power lines

Valley couple says they were shocked by overhead power lines

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PHOENIX (KSAZ) -

We see them all over the valley; high voltage power lines delivering electricity to the valley from the Palo Verde nuclear plant.

But how safe are they?

A valley woman claims she got shocked riding her bike underneath one of those high voltage lines.

You can hear the electricity flowing just standing underneath a high voltage power line.
 
But it's not what Edith Johnson heard it's what she felt. "It hurts like you got poked with a little needle... and it really hurts," said Johnson.

Johnson felt needle like pains while riding her bike underneath a high voltage line near the Estrella Mountains in Goodyear.

"She began to scream and was in pain with her wrists," said Brian Johnson.

As she screamed in pain with her wrists touching the metal handlebars, Edith's husband Brian looked up and saw the power lines overhead.

"I just told her you're being electrocuted, get out of there," he said.

Edith pedaled away pulling her two year-old son in the carriage behind her. The Johnson's called APS who called SRP who owns the lines.

Crews were sent out to check the voltage. Paramedics were also sent out to check on Edith and her son. Everyone and everything checked out okay

"It's just more of a surprise, it's just more of a nuisance shock," said Jeff Lane with SRP.

SRP says Edith probably experienced a nuisance shock. A small electrical shock kind of like a static shock you'd get from dragging your feet across the carpet. SRP says the shocks are annoying & uncomfortable but not dangerous.

"It's not dangerous, it's not something that requires medical attention," he said.

Turns out nuisance shocks do not happen all the time. Experts say conditions need to be just right for someone to get a small shock under a high voltage line.

"its a phenomenon that happens in the right situation," said Lane.

Dr. George Karady is a professor at ASU's school of electrical, computer, & energy engineering. He says decades of research show nuisance shocks and electrical fields are not dangerous even to those who living nearby.

"No health risk from an electrical field inside the home," said Dr. Karady.

Still the Johnson's aren't taking any chances.

"we're changing our bike route," said Brian Johnson.

They want nothing to do with these high voltage lines. "those power lines need to be dealt with by SRP," he said.

But SRP says the lines were put in 10 years before this neighborhood was even built.

"Those transmission towers are there they're not going to change they're established, they're important, and they bring in power from the Palo Verde Nuclear Station to bring our customers reliable power," said Lane.

SRP says there's a way to avoid getting a nuisance shock: try not to touch any metal when under high voltage power lines.

And if you have metal handlebars on your bike wearing gloves can help.

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