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Stray voltage issue on radar

The need exists to ensure potential stray voltage issues on Ontario’s electrical grid are not negatively impacting livestock operations or the public, says Barry Fraser.

The Chatham-area private consultant and former Kent agricultural representative, told The Daily News Friday there’s a need to enhance the public’s confidence in green energy production.

Fraser said that while he favours all forms of green energy – including wind turbines – it’s important to make certain there are no stray voltage issues that could seriously impact the province’s livestock industry.

The consultant is receiving widespread support.

He recently addressed the Town of Lakeshore council and will speak to the agricultural committee of the Canadian Bankers’ Association at the end of March in Toronto.

Fraser played an important role in assisting Dover dairy farmer Lee Montgomery win vindication in his 30-year battle trying to convince government and Hydro One that stray voltage ruined his life, his dairy herd and took the life of his wife, Donna.

Montgomery’s first breakthrough came in 2006 with a private member’s bill by former Lambton-Kent-Middlesex MPP Marie Van Bommel.

Two years ago the Ontario Energy Board announced amendments to the distribution system code in relation to farm stray voltage.

The amendments ensure that electricity to farm customers is of a quality that does not unduly impact the health and safety of a livestock operation.

Fraser said that with the widespread proliferation of wind turbines across southwestern Ontario, there is a need to ensure there are no stray voltage problems that could hurt livestock.

He said several major farm organizations are onboard, including the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, the Christian Farmers’ Federation of Agriculture as well as the Ontario Sustainable Energy Association.

Fraser said the government’s two-year feed-in tariff (FIT) review is supposed to be tabled in the coming weeks.

He said the OFA wants rural residents’ health concerns addressed. The organization also wants municipalities to be trained to measure frequency noises and induced current issues.

Fraser said the CFFO is calling for independent studies for human and animal health impacts.

According to Fraser, more than 1,000 wind turbines now dot the landscape in southwestern Ontario including approximately 400 in Chatham-Kent. More than 100 new turbines are approved for the municipality in 2012.

Fraser said there is a need for environmental assessments on farm/in-barn livestock operations.

He said the Town of Lakeshore is now calling for proper scientific testing and third-party monitoring, as well as investigations of stray voltage.

Fraser said there is a need to ensure balance between economic and environmental sustainability.