Cows killed by 400v overhead service line

Energy type: 
Electricity
 
Event summary: 
A 400v overhead service line across a farmer’s field to a neighbour’s cowshed fell to the ground killing four cows. The farmer was in dispute with the power company as to ownership/responsibility of the line.

 
Accident ID: 
160427-05
 
Accident date: 
27 April 2016
 
Site: 
Rural
 
Environment: 
Outside (above ground)
 
Voltage: 
400
 
Equipment: 
Overhead lines
 
Accident type: 
Electrical mechanical
 
Casualty: 
Non-fatality
 
Injury: 
No injury
 
Property damage level: 
Restricted to the direct vicinity of the equipment
 
Outcome of investigation: 

Energy Safety's investigation found that, two years prior to the incident, the owner of the line (a neighbour of the farmer) had requested the electricity retailer to switch the power off to an old cow shed as it was no longer in use. He was given two options of permanent disconnection at the service pole, or an inactive line where isolation is carried out at the switchboard and the overhead lines remain live. This allows for cheaper reconnection if required in future and is a cheaper initial option.

The neighbour chose to have an inactive line and had mentioned to the farmer that the cow shed no longer had power, which the farmer assumed meant that the overhead line was isolated. He was, therefore, not concerned when he saw the power line had fallen in his field and allowed his cows into the field. The farmer was aware of good practice to assume all lines are live until proven otherwise, but chose to assume otherwise.

The maintenance of the line was the responsibility of the owner and the neighbour and not the power company. However, the farmer did not accept this and continued his dispute with the power company.