RALEIGH, N.C. (Jan. 31, 2005) -- In an upcoming episode of 'FearFactor Couples,' contestants are reportedly required to stand near an electric power substation and receive minor, "nuisance" shocks. In reality, what Fear Factor describes as a nuisance shock could be extremely dangerous. The episode is scheduled to air tonight, Monday, Jan. 31, at 8 p.m. (EST).
Progress Energy reminds customers and employees that substations, as well as all distribution and transmission facilities, are dangerous places, and that all but trained utility personnel should strictly avoid them. Line and service personnel go through months and years of training to learn to properly work with electricity. For untrained individuals, contact with electrical equipment can be deadly. For more information on electrical safety, visit Progress Energy's online Learning Center at www.progress-energy.com/aboutenergy/learningctr
Edison Electric Institute (EEI) President Tom Kuhn wrote NBC President Jeff Zucker last week expressing concern about the episode.EEI President Tom Kuhn's letter to NBC:
On behalf of the Edison Electric Institute, which represents the nation's investor-owned electric utilities, it's important for viewers to realize that there is no such thing as a "nuisance shock"—and your Monday evening broadcast will blur the line between fantasy and reality in ways that could have disastrous results, including perhaps even the electrocution of unsuspecting "Fear Factor" fans.
In the real world, a substation is a crucial part of the electric infrastructure containing lethal currents of electricity—it is not a prop or backdrop for a reality TV show. While we do not know the details of your show, we are very concerned that if the piece airs as we expect it to, it may cause viewers to fail to appreciate the seriousness—and potential danger—of electric power facilities.
Our industry has long championed the importance of public safety, and each one of our member companies is deeply committed to informing the public about the lethal danger of electric current. Unfortunately, the simplistic plot of Monday's "Fear Factor" may encourage an unsuspecting child or young adult to attempt a copycat prank. While NBC makes some effort to warn viewers not to emulate the stunt, the show likely will convey the message that an electrical shock is nothing more than a harmless annoyance.
For those reasons, we are requesting that you strongly consider either dropping or amending that particular segment of Monday's show. At a minimum, we would ask NBC and its affiliates to help mitigate the program's deadly message by significantly reinforcing your standard warning before the segment airs. On behalf of our industry, I appreciate your cooperation in addressing this serious issue, and we look forward to working with you now and in the future in the spirit of mutual concern for the public welfare. Please feel free to call me to discuss this matter.
Progress Energy (NYSE: PGN), headquartered in Raleigh, N.C., is a Fortune 250 diversified energy company with more than 24,000 megawatts of generation capacity and $9 billion in annual revenues. The company's holdings include two electric utilities serving more than 2.9 million customers in North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida. Progress Energy also includes non-regulated operations covering merchant generation, energy marketing, natural gas exploration, rail services and broadband capacity. For more information about Progress Energy, visit the company's Web site at http://www.progress-energy.com
Source: Progress Energy, Inc.