Jury awards Fayette County dairy $4.75M in stray voltage lawsuit

Here’s the part that jumped up and hollered:

I’m familiar with the notion that transmission lines over pipelines can/do corrode the pipeline, so this use of “an anti-corrosion system that sends electricity into the ground to protect the pipeline” seems counter intuitive. So digging just a bit, the term “cathodic protection,” which does ring a bell.

Cool Science: Using Electricity to Fight Corrosion

And that article says:

To fight corrosion, we employ a technique called cathodic protection, which literally uses electrical currents to prevent rust.

With cathodic protection, a flow of electrical current is applied from an external source – a rectifier – through the ground and onto the steel pipe. The protective current changes the environment around the steel, stopping the corrosion reaction.

And “cathodic protection” is not a new concept either.

The intersection of these two concepts is what’s got me stumped. Adding this to the list of things to look into when I’m in a warm and isolated cabin up north!

Landmark Stray Voltage Case!

January 27th, 2011


Above, equipotential plane for treating manifestations of stray voltage — it does NOT eliminate stray voltage!  See 2006 MREC Equipotential Planes for explanation.

Yesterday, the Minnesota Supreme Court released a landmark stray voltage opinion, clarifying the breadth of the “filed rate” and “primary jurisdiction” doctrines declaring that they do not limit suits for stray voltage damages against utilities.  This has been a six year lawsuit for the Siewerts so far…

Siewert v. Northern States Power d/b/a Xcel Energy

Here’s the STrib’s article — hmmmmm… no comments allowed!  I wonder why that is?

Supreme Court rules for farmers in stray-voltage case

In a divided opinion, the state court’s decision allows a father and son to pursue damages to their dairy herd blamed on excess voltage from Xcel Energy.

By JIM ANDERSON, Star Tribune

Last update: January 27, 2011 – 10:03 AM

In a ruling on an issue that has long vexed the state’s dairy industry, a divided Minnesota Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that two Wabasha County farmers can seek $4 million in damages from Xcel Energy for damages to their herd through stray voltage.

Stray voltage — the subject of much debate, research and legal action over the past several decades — is a phenomenon caused by low levels of excess electricity passing via the ground between two contact points through an object not intended to be a conductor.

In the case of dairy cattle, it is claimed the continued stress of mild shocks thwarts milk production and damages their health.

“We’re very pleased with the Supreme Court’s decision,” said Greg Siewert, who farms with his father, Harlan, in Zumbro Falls. The Siewerts first filed suit against Northern States Power Co., a subsidiary of Xcel, in 2004.
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