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Court rules against Xcel in Minn. stray voltage case

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Power lines
High voltage power lines criss-cross Minnesota, and some dairy farmers claim stray voltage from those lines is harmful to their herds.
MPR Photo/Bob Kelleher

(AP) - The Minnesota Court of Appeals has ruled that a group of Minnesota farmers can sue Xcel Energy Inc. over claims that stray voltage killed 80 dairy cows.

      Harlan and Greg Siewert seek $5 million. Last week, the Appeals Court denied an appeal by Xcel Energy that the case be heard by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission.

      The Siewerts now plan to sue Xcel in court, alleging that stray voltage from transmission lines was responsible for problems at their farm, Siewert Holsteins near Zumbro Falls.

      Stray voltage is when electricty returns to the ground through an unintended conductor. Perhaps most famously, it was blamed for the 2004 electrocution of a woman in New York City.

      Tim Thornton, who represents Xcel Energy, says his client plans to seek further appellate review of the Siewerts' claim.       

             (Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)