Bill would protect electric companies from some lawsuits - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

UPDATE: Bill would protect electric companies from some lawsuits

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MADISON (WKOW) -- Republican state lawmakers are trying to pass a bill that would protect electric companies from stray voltage lawsuits.

Some farmers, like Steve Bollant, have successfully sued electric providers for damages resulting from stray voltage on their farms.
 
Bollant, a Grant County dairy farmer, says his farm would have been bankrupt if he hadn't won a lawsuit filed against Scenic Rivers for damages. Bollant says stray voltage from old power lines killed dozens of cows and cut milk production in half. In 2010, a jury found Scenic Rivers liable for damages and ordered them to pay Bollant $5 million.
 
"We started losing cows right and left and cows were aborting calves and everything was just going wrong," says Bollant. "If we never would have won that case, we wouldn't be milking here today."
 
The legislators say lawsuits involving stray voltage are too costly and those costs are passed on to the customers. Assembly Bill 257 would still allow farmers to file lawsuits, but only if they can prove recklessness or malicious intent. In any other situation, lawmakers believe state regulations provide enough protection.
 
"Nine out of ten cases where the farmer's having difficulty with the herd and his milk production, nine out of ten cases it turns out having nothing to do with electric," says Republican Rep. Mark Honadel.
 
Honadel says he was raised on a dairy farm and understands how difficult it can be, but says the costs for the rest of the electric providers' customers are just too high.
 
The legislature has not set a date for a public hearing on Assembly Bill 257. It's been assigned to the Assembly Committee on Judiciary.

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MADISON (WKOW) -- Republican state lawmakers are trying to pass a bill that would protect electric companies from stray voltage lawsuits.

Some farmers have successfully sued electric providers for damages resulting from stray voltage on their farms.

The legislators say lawsuits involving stray voltage are too costly and those costs are passed on to the customers. Assembly Bill 257 would still allow farmers to file lawsuits, but only if they can prove recklessness or malicious intent. In any other situation, lawmakers believe state regulations provide enough protection.

Tonight on 27 News at 10, Greg Neumann shares a Grant County farmer's story of how a stray voltage suit saved his farm, and has reaction from lawmakers supporting the bill.

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