Stray Voltage

The term “stray voltage” has a variety of definitions, some loosely fitting and others technical in nature. Under state law stray voltage is voltage or current between two cow contact points such as the ground and a water tank or feed bunk.  Stray voltage can become an inhibitor to dairy production and in some instances has significantly curtailed production.  Because of the economic impact stray voltage can have on dairy producers and the need to quickly and efficiently remedy any incidence of stray voltage the 2015 legislature passed a series of laws which provides a process for utility companies to quickly respond to complaints of possible stray voltage, conduct the proper testing, and make any fixes needed.

The law also established that if a dairy producer and a utility company could not agree on the proper remediation a complaint could be filed with the public utilities commission. That same law required the PUC to promulgate administrative rules to establish the technical aspects of stray voltage testing.

Over the course of the past year, the PUC has worked with rural electric cooperatives, investor owned utilities, and dairy producers to craft the proper rules for this testing. We purposely used a collaborative process to ensure that all parties involved in possible stray voltage cases had input in the drafting of the rules.

The rule promulgation was completed this past week when the legislature’s Rules Review Committee unanimously approved the rules from the PUC. I am pleased that our work was approved and we now have a formal process in place for the testing and remediation of stray voltage.  I believe this process will reduce any potential conflicts between dairy producers and their utility company and most importantly provide for a quick resolution to any discovered problem.