Ontario Federation of Agriculture Commentary By Brent Royce, Board Member, OFA
Unexplained electrical currents flowing under some Ontario farms have plagued farmers for years, dragging down animal health and productivity. Uncontrolled electricity or stray voltage causes a constant underground electrical current to flow in the ground and in barns. Livestock exposed to uncontrolled electricity can exhibit odd behavior, have lower productivity, stop eating or drinking, and in extreme cases even die.
The Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) has been working to raise awareness of the seriousness of uncontrolled electricity on farms. As part of a working group of agricultural organizations, OFA has helped bring government and hydro companies together to address this issue.
The Uncontrolled Electricity Agriculture Working Group is a diverse group that includes OFA, Farm & Food Care Ontario, Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario, farmers, electrical experts, consultants, Ontario Pork, Beef Farmers of Ontario and Dairy Farmers of Ontario working with electrical distributors, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs and the Ministry of Energy. The working group is tasked with collecting research and data on the scope and causes of uncontrolled electricity. The group has visited farms affected by uncontrolled electricity where Hydro One representatives conduct extensive testing. The group is awaiting testing reports from Hydro One and a third party engineering company to help determine the source of ground current problems and offer solutions.
The working group is also making progress in the reporting process and policy development around uncontrolled electricity. As a result of the working group Hydro One has:
· Simplified the reporting process – reducing the form to report ground current or stray voltage on a farm from 17 pages to one.
· Committed to faster response to concerns – first site visit within five days of a report being registered.
These changes will help identify uncontrolled electricity problems on farms much faster and hopefully lead to faster solutions.
Appropriate policy development is always a priority for OFA. Bringing the government and the Electrical Safety Authority to the table with agricultural groups to deal with uncontrolled electricity gives us a better understanding of the impacts this issue has on Ontario agriculture and individual farms.
OFA continues to work closely with industry, farmers, government and energy companies to focus attention on the issue of uncontrolled electricity. As part of the working group, chaired by OFA director Brent Royce, OFA will keep pressure on utility and energy regulators to help farmers affected by misplaced energy.
For more information on reporting uncontrolled electricity:
Hydro One Stray Voltage Investigation form: http://www.hydroone.com/
Farm & Food Care Ontario Uncontrolled Electricity reporting form: http://www.farmfoodcare.org/