Chatham-Kent taking a stand on stray voltage

By Karen Robinet, Today’s Farmer

Chatham-Kent council is stepping up in the battle against stray voltage.  At its March 28 meeting, Coun. Doug Sulman introduced a successful motion which will see the Ontario Energy Board, the Minister of Energy and Hydro One appraised of council’s concerns over stray voltage, which is detrimental to both animal and human health.

In December, Coun. Jim Brown had requested a report on the issue from administration and Kim Cooper, the municipality’s agricultural economic development officer submitted his report which stated that, “stray voltage can have harmful effects on animal health and productivity including decreased feed and water intake, reduced milk production, reluctance to enter the milking parlour, nervousness and aggressive behaviour, lameness in legs and feet, and reproduction impacts such as increased abortion rates, birth defects and drop in conception.”

Dover Centre farmer Lee Montgomery, whose dairy farm was the first in Ontario to be recognized by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs as having stray voltage, was on hand to address council in regard to the impact of stray voltage on human health.

He said, “this is a very serious situation we have. This stuff kills. It can maim you and cause serious diseases. We know it causes cancer.”

Cooper’s report stated that in 2006, the province passed a Private Member’s Bill, the Ground Current Pollution Act, which was brought forward by Lambton-Kent-Middlesex MPP Maria Van Bommel.

However, Montgomery said the bill hasn’t improved the situation and that stray voltage remains a problem.

“I know of places in Waterloo County where guys are pretty well going out of business with this,” he said.

Cooper’s report also noted that Hydro One handles 95% of the calls over the issue since it is largely a rural concern.

He said that Chatham-Kent Energy has conducted some investigations in the past few years, but not recently.

He also noted that in the Ridgetown area, some work is being done with several livestock producers who live near the RES/Talbot Wind Farm, which began full operations of its 43-turbine wind farm in December.

The project is connected by a new transmission grid running from just north of Talbot Trail Line, west of the Kenesserie Line to the main transmission grid through Chatham-Kent just north of Hwy. 401.

Along the grid there are six livestock producers, and signed agreements with the wind farm mean that before and after monitoring will be taking place to determine whether or not stray voltage is or becomes an issue.

Later in the meeting, Brown said he’s been aware of the issue for years, “but just recently I’ve seen some of the problems out in our area.”

He said he’d like to see council take some sort of action on the matter and said, “we can’t just shelve this again.”

Sulman agreed and put forward his motion which also requested that testing be conducted before any new energy project proceeds.

He said he’s seen “pictures of fetuses of cattle, burnt hooves, burnt legs and animals totally destroyed as a result of this voltage going into barns and concrete stanchions in milking barns.”

Sulman said that even though the issue is beyond council’s jurisdiction, “we can advocate on behalf of our constituents.”

Coun. Brian King said the problem rests with the fact that, “Hydro One does whatever they want to do, when they want to do it and on their terms.”

He said the problem is not with wind turbines, but the transmission grid itself and said Hydro One doesn’t know, “how many projects they have out there and what needs to be hooked up.”

King said that the issue of stray voltage has been ongoing for 40 years, “because Hydro One doesn’t want to do anything about it.”

10 thoughts on “Chatham-Kent taking a stand on stray voltage

  1. Councilor King, the real problem is with the provincal gov’t telling hydro one, you will hook renewable energy to the grid, we don’t care how just do it. What the greedy industry wants is more important to them than the residents health

  2. “King said that the issue of stray voltage has been ongoing for 40 years, “because Hydro One doesn’t want to do anything about it.”

    So people have basically put up with this hazardous and potentially deadly situation for 40 years?

    Maybe I’m naive here but when I see “stray voltage” issues on the streets of Toronto such as last week when a dog was killed outright on the sidewalk downtown the problem was remedied within hours. My stupid question is: why has nothing been done for 40 years?

  3. Because … urban dogs are more important than hix in the stix, silly.

  4. When he saw these cattle with burned hooves, burnt legs etc, why did he not call in the police, ospca and the press? This would have alerted the public much sooner and slowed the wind companies down!

  5. “Cooper’s report stated that in 2006, the province passed a Private Member’s Bill, the Ground Current Pollution Act, which was brought forward by Lambton-Kent-Middlesex MPP Maria Van Bommel.”
    Think Maria Van Bommel gives a rats *ss now? If she can ignore the people suffering from Industrial Wind Turbines in her own municipalities that she serves, she sure won’t care about the stray voltage.

  6. I disagree with the councillor quoted! The problem does stem from the wind turbines. For some of the farms in my area (the Talbot wind and Front Line projects), the stray voltage did not exist before the functioning of the wind projects.

    Before construction of the Talbot project I voiced concerns about voltage issues several times and I was assured that the collector lines for the project would be underground and totally separate from the local grid system so problems would not exist. Well guess what???? Lied to again.

    This is not just an issue for the livestock. A few weeks ago more than 6 (that I know of) homes were affected by what Hydro One has described as damage that is like “a massive lightning strike, without the lightning” and it is believed to be due to the turbines. People lost ovens, computer equipment etc. Some have made the comment “I am afraid to leave home in case this happens again, and the house burns down”. These are problems that we would not be experiencing if the turbines were not here.

    On top of that our locally owned Mutual Insurance company will now be making payouts to these people… as a member/owner of the insurance company (that I warned 4 years ago about the problems associated with turbines) I am more than pissed off.

  7. By the way… all these C-K councillors and Mr. Kim Cooper were told of the dangers of voltage issues with industrial wind turbines by many people (including Mr. Montgomery) 4 years ago. What a crime being perpetrated on us!

  8. Me..can I use your post here in a letter to the editor in my area?

  9. Well for people who believe that the wind turbine power caused the surge here is what you can do…

    You can purchase and have installed (By A Licensed Electrician, who gets a permit) a “Whole House Surge Protector”. It is going to cost you about $400 to $1000. But, you can then submit (a copy of ) the bill to the local wind power company.

    If they do not pay, take them to small claims court (under $10K).

    Heck — claim all the damage — and the fix!

    Here is a link to one at Home Depot. They are available at Home Hardware and most electrical distributors.

    There are other brands as well.

  10. To Ernest Horvath…
    sure you can use the post, or send me info and I will write a letter myself that you can use.

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