A case requesting that Consumers Energy, Jackson, MI, stop using the earth as a conductor for uncontrolled electricity has been pending before the Michigan Public Service Commission (PSC) since 1998. Frank J. Kelley, former Attorney General of Michigan, filed the complaint with the PSC after hundreds of dairy farmers, some hog producers, and dog kennel operators had complained that the uncontrolled voltage or current was shocking their livestock and causing damage. Farmers claim uncontrolled electricity causes uncontrollable behavior, poor health, and decreased milk production of cows.
Staff of present Attorney General, Jennifer Granholm, and attorneys for Consumers Energy have continued to file testimony and motions before, Daniel J. Nickerson, Administrative Hearing Officer for the case before the PSC. Mr. Nickerson was Chairman of a Stray Voltage Task Force Report to the PSC in 1993.
Cross-examination of witnesses will begin September 16, 2002 at the Michigan Public Service Commission, 6545 Mercantile Way, Lansing. (off S. Pennsylvania Avenue, near I-96 Exit 104)
The Attorney General's complaint claims that Consumers Energy has known about their stray voltage problem since the early 1980's; that Consumers has paid out millions of dollars in payments for attorney's fees, for expert witnesses, and damage payments to farmers, etc. because of their improper grounding system which does not comply with National Electric Safety Code (NESC) standards.
The complaint requests the Michigan Public Service Commission to grant relief to citizens, ratepayers, and stockholders by: (A) issuing an order requiring Consumers to cease and desist from allowing stray voltage or current from its electrical system into and onto private property. (B) requiring Consumers to upgrade and improve its electric system up to the standards of the current NESC. (C)Require Consumers to operate and maintain its electric system so as to permanently eliminate the utility's electric distribution system as a source of stray voltages or currents, (D) ---eliminate the undue and unreasonable disadvantage and prejudice currently being imposed on rural farms and the rural farming communities, as well as the inferior service. (E) Conduct rate hearings to identify and quantify any and all direct and indirect stray voltage related costs incurred by Consumers. (F) Establish reasonable and prudent electric rates by removing any and all direct and indirect stray voltage related costs in jurisdictional electric rates, and (G) Issue an order granting other equitable relief that protects and safeguards Michigan citizens, the Michigan dairy and livestock industry, as well as the entire farming community and related agricultural support industries. (Signed Freank J. Kelley, Attorney General, J. Peter Lark, Assistant in Charge, and Robert L. Mol, Assistant Attorney General, Special Litigation Division. Mr Mol has been replaced by Michael E. Moody, Assistant Attorney General who has been carrying the case load since October 2001. Mr. Kelley retired and was replaced by Jennifer Mulhern Granholm, elected in 2000.
A whole new understanding of the sources and causes of uncontrolled electric currents "stray voltage" has been discovered since the last PSC stray voltage report in 1995. At that time Consumers Energy had 355 farmer complaints about their stray electricity affecting dairy cows, pigs, and dogs in kennels.
Power company experts have claimed that less than 0.5 volt, resulting in currents of 1.0 milliampere or less had no effect on cattle; and therefore, they would not be responsible for making corrections to their electrical system or for damages to livestock under such conditions. A group of electrical and animal "experts" who had conducted limited research with exposure of cows to various electrical currents co-authored USDA Publication No. 696 Effects of Voltage/Currents on Farm Animals. Their work included only steady state, 60Hertz, sinusoidal electricity, and short-term milk production trials that were unreliable for comparison with farm conditions. But, that was the electrical industry's source of information, and the sole source for educators in the farming community.
New studies began when a milk company field-man asked Dave Stetzer, an Industrial Electrician at Blain, Wisconsin to "Look into farmer complaints that stray voltage was affecting the behavior and milk production of their cows, when the power company experts said no stray voltage was present."
Stetzer plugged Fluke Event Recorders into 120-V wall outlets in the milkhouses and found that milk production decreased as the number of electrical transients increased daily. Transients are unwanted, short-duration electrical surges or spikes on the power line. Transients can be caused by switching lights on and off, by motors with variable speed drives, or by electronic devices that increase or decrease the frequency of the current, or change alternating current (AC) to direct current (DC) for computers and printers. Power companies use capacitor switching to balance loads on lines, either on or off the farm. Transients from one location are commonly transferred to other locations through the primary (utility's) neutral wire which is interconnected at the transformer, at the secondary (customer) service panel, at equipment grounds several places on the farm. In addition the utility neutral wire is grounded at the transformer and at least four times per mile on wye distribution systems which Consumers and most rural power companies use.
Stetzer and his associates also recorded step potential voltage from electrodes (metal plates) grouted into the floor of milking stalls connected to the oscilloscope and computer 24 hours per day. The electrical and milk production data from eleven farms were analyzed for statistical relationships by Don Hillman, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus at Michigan State University, Charles L. Goeke, MS, data analyst, Mason, MI, Harold.H.(Jack) VanHorn, Ph.D.and Charles J. Wilcox, Dairy Scientists and Statisticians, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL Technical advice was provided by Martin Graham, DEE, Professor Emeritus, Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering, Universithy of California, Berkeley, CA; and Kurt Mathson, EE, who worked for Stetzer Electric at the time. Effects of transient and harmonic electrical currents on livestock had not been described previously in agricultural publications. Results of their research are being considered for publication by the American Society of Agricultural Engineers.
The New Discoveries included:
1) Rural power lines, as well as those closer to cities, contain enormous numberrs of transient electrical charges daily, although the number and magnitude varies from location to location and day to day.
2) Milk production per cow decreased as the number of transients increased. The average affect was -0.063 pounds milk per transient or from -1.0 pound per cow average, to -6.3 pounds/milk/cow/day on the worst days attributable to transients events.
3) Transient voltage was not the 60 Hertz (60 cycles per second) steady state, sinusoidal "clean" electricity that had been used in laboratory experiments at universities, and that we (and most electrical engineers) thought was on all power lines.. Transients were unwanted, distorted, non-sinusoidal voltage of varying frequency, commonly called "dirty" electricity in the electrical trade.
4) Harmonics, which are multiples of the fundamental (60Hz) e.g., 120 Hz is the 2nd harmonic, 180 Hz is the 3rd harmonic, and so on up the scale. Harmonic frequency magnitudes are measured in decibels as well as voltage, and constitute the buzzing sound which power experts call "electrical noise" on the power lines.
5) The number of harmonics was highly correlated with the number of transients recorded daily. Total Harmonic Distortion (THD) contribution from the utility's side of the meter is limited to 5 percent of the fundamental (1st harmonic) transient voltage according to IEEE 519-1992. THD ranged from 19 to 132 percent on farms studied.
6) Milk per cow decreased as the number of 3rd , 5th , 7th ,21st and 42nd harmonics increased daily on multiple farm analysis. Other harmonics were significantly related to milk production on specific farms.
7) Use of shunt resistors in voltmeters by electrical experts gives misleading information about the level of voltage and effect on animal health and milk production. No resistors were used in these studies.
8) Step potential voltages (voltage potential between feet) ranging from 0.01 to 0.15 Volt peak to peak on the waveform were negatively correlated with milk production and positively correlated with foot movements (steps/min).
9) The lower than commonly quoted voltages affecting animals are apparently due to lower impedance of cows to higher frequency electrical impulses which ranged to 30 MHz, (megahertz) and harmonics which were recorded at step potential by oscilloscope. The faster currents apparently by-passed hoofs by electrical coupling from earth to body.
10) Sums of voltage and interaction of voltage x frequency were better measure of effect on milk production than voltage alone, suggesting that the effects on the animal were accumulative--- the more times a cow gets electrocuted the less milk she gives.
The Michigan Public Service Commission will Not be allowed to hear these New Discoveries. Consumers Energy's motion to STRIKE all testimony in this matter that was concluded after March 30, 2000 was granted by the presiding Administrative Hearing Officer. Consumers complained that the late filing of this testimony (Circa February 28, 2001) was unfair because their witnesses would not have time to study and prepare a rebuttal on the report. Consumers attorneys are still deposing witnesses 1 _ years later.
Perhaps someone will ask if it was fair to farmers who face potential financial damage, or family members who contract leukemia, brain tumors, cancer, or suffer "dumbing-down", sleep disorders, or suicide" from electrical pollution, to strike such testimony and jeopardize the AG's request for relief. Apparently, the truth doesn't matter. Only technicalities of the law are important now, but the truth will remain the truth.
Editor: Immediate Release, From: Shocking News, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tele: 517-351-9561. Address: 750 Berkshire Lane, E. Lansing, MI 48823 (Date 830/02)