Now available to farmers and utilities across the state is the recently developed Minnesota Stray Voltage Guide.
The presence of ‘stray voltage’ is a normal result of electricity traveling through utility distribution systems, which must be grounded to earth to ensure safe and reliable operation. However, if problems occur, the level of voltage present on a farm can reach levels that could impact livestock. This is most often seen at dairy farms, where voltage levels exceeding certain thresholds could affect the behavior of cows.
As the sixth largest producer of milk in the nation (ref: USDA), this is an important issue in Minnesota. Other states have adopted standard practices to address stray voltage concerns as well. Research on this topic has been undertaken at a wide variety of institutions, including the University of Minnesota, University of Wisconsin, and the US Department of Agriculture. Much of this research was utilized by the parties that developed the new Minnesota Guide. The same information has also served as the foundation for the development of stray voltage standards and remedial steps in other states.
The participants involved in this effort from the agriculture community were the Minnesota Farm Bureau, Minnesota Farmers Union, and the Cooperative Network. David Ward, All of the utilities in the state participated: Minnesota Power, Otter Tail Power, Xcel Energy, the Minnesota Rural Electric Association, representing the state’s rural electric cooperatives, and the Minnesota Municipal Utilities Association, representing the state’s municipal utilities. Two state agencies also participated: the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry, which is responsible for electrical inspections, and the Department of Agriculture. These stakeholders came together to develop consistent standards for dealing with stray voltage concerns across the state, out of the belief that all parties, working together, best ensures that concerns are dealt with in a productive manner.