Utah stray voltage trial begins

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Opening testimony opened this week as lawyers for six Millard County dairy farms try to convince a jury that stray voltage from a local power plant is harming their herds.

According to The Salt Lake Tribune, the trial hopes to conclude a decade of legal maneuvering to resolve an environmental mystery: does stray electricity from the Intermountain Power Plant sicken herds at area dairies?

"This stray current has injured my clients’ dairies for years and will continue to do so," plaintiffs’ lawyer Jeff Gross told the jury.

The producers are claiming nearly $485 million in economic losses that, according to the report, “pits two important pillars of Utah’s rural economy — agriculture and energy — against each other.”

Defense experts include engineers, agronomists, veterinarians and other scientists with strong academic credentials.

Read more here.  

Stray voltage is not a new problem for livestock producers. Dairy Herd Management has been writing about it since the mid-1990s. But lawsuits continue to be filed against electric cooperatives.  In July a Minnesota Appeals Court upheld a stray voltage ruling, which awarded a Waverly, Minn., dairy farmer damages after stray electrical currents from a local power cooperative impacted his herd.

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