Sidebar: Do transmission lines threaten people, livestock, or property values?

power lines and cornfieldProperty values: According to a Minnesota Department of Commerce fact sheet, general trends observed in various reports include the following:

  • Negative impacts on property values range from 1 percent to 10 percent, with positive impacts in some cases;
  • Negative impacts are often attributed to aesthetics, concern over potential health effects, noise, and safety;
  • Negative impacts on property values decrease with distance;
  • Other factors, such as schools, lot size, and other neighbor characteristics have more influence on property values.[1]

Human health: The Environmental Protection Agency says, “Much of the research about power lines and potential health effects is inconclusive. Despite more than two decades of research to determine whether elevated EMF (electric and magnetic field) exposure, principally to magnetic fields, is related to an increased risk of childhood leukemia, there is still no definitive answer. The general scientific consensus is that, thus far, the evidence available is weak and is not sufficient to establish a definitive cause-effect relationship.”[2]

In 2002, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the Department of Energy published Electric and Magnetic Fields Associated with the Use of Electric Power that “provides an overview of the results of major research studies, and summarizes conclusions of the expert review panels to help you reach your own conclusions about EMF-related health concerns.”

Livestock health: The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Handbook 696 says, “Numerous research studies have quantified the physiological and behavioral responses of dairy cattle to electric currents. … Even so, it is important to realize that the currents required for perception, behavioral change, or physiological effects to occur are widely variable. Further, symptoms associated with stray voltage/current problems are not unique and many factors other than stray voltage/current can cause similar behavioral, health and/or production problems.”[3] In 1998, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission published Final Report of the Science Advisors to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission: Research Findings and Recommendations Regarding Claims of Possible Effects of Currents in the Earth on Dairy Cow Health and Milk Production.

[1] Minnesota Department of Commerce (June 3, 2011.) Fact Sheet: Rights-of-Way and Easements for Energy Facility Construction and Operation.

[2] U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Electric and Magnetic Fields (EMF) Radiation from Power Lines web page. (Accessed March 12, 2014.)

[3] U.S. Department of Agriculture. (1991.) Effects of Electrical Voltage/Current on Farm Animals. Accessed through the Midwest Rural Energy Council webpage, March 2014. Page 1.