Stray Voltage harming cows and people

Dancing is associated with a joyous occasion unless it happens to be a cow doing it.

'Dancing cow' is a term describing an animal feeling the pain of stray current which causes it to step back and forth in an effort to break the circuit of electricity flowing through its body. It is associated with cows repeatedly kicking off milking equipment as well.

It is neither joyous for the cow or its owner for that matter, although the pain felt by the latter is best described as financial and/or emotional in nature. It is a situation that has grown increasingly common on dairy farms but only more recently brought into the open.

The suppression has been attributed to a combination of circumstances -from the utilities providing the electricity claiming there was no problem or at least not from their perspective to farmers themselves hiding the situation in much the manner of someone concealing a contagious disease.

''It is not the sort of things farmers want to talk about at the coffee shop,'' said Dr. Magda Havas, an associate professor of environmental and resource studies at Trent University in Peterborough.

She was one of a panel of speakers addressing the topic of stray current, often referred to as tingle/stray voltage or dirty electricity, at a public forum sponsored by the Perth County Federation of Agriculture recently in Listowel.

Also addressing the 100-plus people in attendance were three farmers whose lives and farm businesses had been severely affected by stray current causing a myriad of diseases to their livestock from breeding problems, to lameness, abortion and death itself.

Tavistock-area dairy farmer Mark Erb, a sixth generation farmer milking 100 cows, said loneliness best described how he felt in dealing with the debilitating effect of stray current in his barn: seven cows dying in the period of a week; 14 heifers dying over a two-week period with 41 eventually dying over several months.

''Laughing on the outside, crying on the inside,'' was the subtitle given to his talk referring to the effort of putting on a brave, stoic face to the surrounding farm community when the problem suddenly descended on his farm in July of 2008.

However the stress of trying unsuccessfully to correct the situation, with feed suppliers, veterinarians, electricians, as milk production and income dropped, took a toll on his health. To save his own life required open heart surgery in 2010.

''What is happening in the barn is happening in the house,'' said Erb of the stress on family relationships. Eventually he felt he had to talk openly about the associated problems, although with difficulty, even in the silent pauses taken at the meeting to regain composure.

Various people responded by saying the problem was caused by poor management until you eventually believed it yourself, said Erb. Through installation of filters and blockers to deflect or reroute the stray current, Erb did eventually begin to get the problem under control on his operation, although some breeding problems have persisted.

THE STRESS has not left entirely either as two neighbours within a mile and a half begin having similar problems with their livestock which they attributed to the action taken by Erb at his farm. He was accused of being the cause of the problem rather than a victim.

Stray current appears to have a fairly straightforward pattern made more complex by human attempts to deal with it. As explained by panel member Lorne Lantz: for every single electron of electrical current leaving the source via a conductor a single electron must be returned to the source. The job of returning the electron to its source is done by the neutral or fourth wire accompanying the three wires distributing electricity in a conventional three phase power grid.

The ever-increasing load demand on the outf low of electrons has resulted in inadequate controlled means of returning electrons to the source on the neutral side. As a result the electrons use the earth - whereever it can find the path of least resistance -as a means of returning to the source. Dr. Havas suggested the problem could be solved by simply installing a second neutral wire in the system operated in Ontario by Hydro One.

So far Hydro One has dealt with the problem by installing ground rods at every third hydro pole, connected to the neutral wire to facilitate completion of an uncontrolled electric pathway back to the source. ''Your home, shed and barns are being used as ground rods by the utility,'' said Lantz, a former dairy farmer in the Wellesley area whose trouble with stray current resulted in him taking a new career path as a consultant dealing with the associated problems. He has worked with farmers all across Ontario in identifying sources of stray current the term he prefers to use instead of stray voltage on their farms. 'Farmers are responsible for manure dumps but utilities dump current and no one says a word,'' said Lantz.

WHILE DR. Havas and Lantz suggested the grounding of neutral at every third pole is a quick, cheap fix by Hydro One that has only exacerbated the problem, John Kalich, manager of distribution planning for Hydro One at the Barrie headquarters says that's not so. His department is responsible for power quality and reliability. ''That is the way the system was designed from the beginning,'' said Kalich referring to when electricity was first brought to the province a century ago with the installation of four to six ground rods every kilometre. Kalich was invited to the meeting by organizers. He said he had considered participating as a speaker but felt he was ''outmanned'' and sensed an air of hostility in the room. ''They are fearmongers'' said Kalich of the message being presented by panel members. He suggested panel members were creating the impression that every farm in Ontario was being threatened with economic ruin because of stray current. ''That is obviously not the case.'' In reference to the three farmers who spoke at the meeting, he noted that their situations had been resolved over time. Hydro One has a guideline of steps to follow for customers suspecting they have a problem with stray current, beginning with an examination of their electrical system by a qualified electrician. While Kalich noted he had 17 electrical engineers under his supervision, Dr. Havas suggested that lawyers, not engineers, occupied top management positions for Hydro One. If action taken by Hydro One to correct the problem was successful it would then point blame for its financially damaging effects at Hydro One, leaving the utility open for legal action, so steps are not taken for corrective action, suggested Dr. Havas.

SO WHILE the physical element of electrical current is straightforward enough the argument as to who is responsible for controlling it, the human element, has many twists and turns. Even the terminology used to describe the problem, referred to as pollution, in the failed attempt by the province in 2006 to deal with it in the 'Ground Current Pollution Act', is vague and perhaps misleading. The private members bill died with the change of government. Then there are: the various means of measuring and/or quantifying the actual current on site; the wide range of frequencies more or less damaging; where to properly measure it, at the cow, on the transformer pole stack, in the yard; maximum acceptable limits for livestock and humans; etc. etc. etc. There may be future attempts to deal with the problem via legislation, but the farm population has the political power of a pen-light battery and is unlikely to create any sense of urgency around finding a solution, especially if it is an expensive one in a deficit-challenged province.

The Ontario Energy Board continues to monitor the situation after soliciting input from all parties involved. In the meantime it will continue to cost farmers affected hundred of thousands of dollars in lost production from livestock, said Dr. Havas. She added that it is often farmers who are the most successful managers, who have constructed modern livestock facilities, who experience stray current attracted to the steel used in newer buildings as well as the large liquid-filled cement manure holding tanks whose underground piping systems provide easy access to the building interior. Problems are more common on farms at the end of a distribution line or where the three phase distribution is split out to single phase feeder lines.

The political impetus to address the problem could yet come from the general population because stray current is also an increasing problem in urban metropolises, said Dr. Havas. Dogs walking over dampened steel man hole covers in New York have been electrocuted recently. Owners walking their dogs are being advised not to use metal leashes. The issue is so complex and difficult to understand the general public just looks the other way. But that could change if the health of pets is affected, said Dr. Havas adding the more important issue will be human health.

One area both Hydro One s Kalich and panelists could agree on is the demand put on the system by electrical equipment that didn t even exist when the distribution system was established. Large variable speed electric motors common on farms for such things as vacuum milking pumps or ventilation fans, while designed to save electricity by matching current to varying demand, emit higher volumes of stray current than conventional electric motors. There was agreement as well that wind turbines and invertors from solar panels, with installations popping up all across the rural landscape, are a potential source of stray current. This does not bode well in conjunction with a distribution system that was carried out as cheaply as possible in the first place to rural areas from cities because of a smaller customer base, said Dr. Havas.

Considering green electricity is being strongly promoted by the ruling Liberal government, farmers may face Hydro One and Queens Park in the deflecting of stray ground current and responsibility.

Source: BY BOB REID For Ontario Farmer
Section: Dairy Page: B10
Memo: The writer lives in Shakespeare farmhouse@cwisp.ca

Note: Stray voltage is not known to many people and is very difficult to tetect and measure, yet it may be affecting the health of millions of people in North America due to a badly designed electrical grid system.

BC Smart Meters

We just got good news that BC Hydro has missed its deadline for the smart meter program and is extending it another year.

Thousands refuse smart meters; installation deadline extended by Rob Shaw, Times Colonist, December 27, 2012:


Of course they say it s due to labour shortage, NOT. They sent their Corix installers to Alberta a few weeks ago. And to material shortage, NOT. All the meter companies have a surplus due to the protests across North America.

We have more than 100,000 homes refusing meters according to Hydro which has not been honest about anything so I bet this number is much higher. A couple of months ago it was 250,000, but due to bullying, threats and lies some people did give in.

I believe if we stand firm and continue to refuse we can beat this illegal, dangerous program.

A nice belated Christmas gift.



TV coverage:


Two local interveners have asked the BC Utilities Commission (BCUC) to suspend the proceedings until FortisBC has done all their research and included a wired in option in their business plan.


Since BC Hydro does not have an opt out option for smart meters this imposition restricts my ability to limit my exposure and protect my health. This is a violation of my right to be safe in my own home



Wireless Power, another new danger

''It is not hard to imagine that in the next few years, you go to a coffee shop, sit down in a chair, sign into a power zone, and charge your phone or laptop,'' said Richard Martin, editorial director for Pike, a market research group that focuses on smart-energy solutions. ''We predict this technology taking off in a similar fashion to how Wi-Fi got its start a decade or so ago.''



December 29, 2012 (San Diego). A federal lawsuit has been filed by Celeste Deborah Cooney, who alleges that radiation from a bank of smart meters left her unable to reside in her home. Defendants in the suit include the SDG&E, the State of California,...


Preventing Ground Current Electricity from entering your house on your plumbing

You may be suffering adverse health effects because of ground current electricity (carrying high frequency pollution) entering your home. This video may help you to solve the problem.


More Information about the dangers of ground current:

A Real Shocker



Panther Creek Project

Harm caused by ground current electricity: June 1999



Informant: Martin Weatherall


Desert Rose and the Story of Stray Currents

Daniel Ross, Truthout: Little is still known about the human health effects of stray electric currents. But at Desert Rose, a California community perched beside an electrical substation, residents are falling chronically ill, and experts believe that stray currents could be to blame...


More about the theme:


Bürgerwelle News



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