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CONSUMERS POWER RESPONDS TO '60 MINUTES' STRAY VOLTAGE STORY

 CONSUMERS POWER RESPONDS TO '60 MINUTES' STRAY VOLTAGE STORY
 JACKSON, Mich., June 8 /PRNewswire/ -- Consumers Power Company is disappointed that the CBS Network television show 60 Minutes rebroadcast a story last night, repeating false allegations from an Allegan County farmer that the utility was the cause of stray electrical voltage problems.
 Consumers Power was contacted by 60 Minutes on Friday, May 29, 1992, regarding the decision to rebroadcast the story, which first aired in April 1991. Since that first contact, Consumers Power took the following steps with 60 Minutes:
 -- Informed 60 Minutes that it is technically impossible for Consumers Power's distribution system to be the source of stray voltage on the farmer's electric system.
 -- The utility's Senior Vice President for Communications offered to appear on-camera to present Consumers Power's side of this complicated story. 60 Minutes declined Consumers Power's offer, saying that it could not re-make "history."
 -- Consumers Power's Senior Vice President and General Counsel faxed and sent by overnight courier a strongly-worded request that 60 Minutes use information supplied by the utility on May 29, 1992 to provide balance to an otherwise radically biased story. The information included a letter from the utility's Director of News & Information, and two separate letters previously sent to 60 Minutes from academic experts on stray voltage. "My client will be forced to regard failure to present said material in connection with the broadcast as a knowing and reckless disregard for the truth concerning stray voltage, and harmful to its interest and that of its farm customers," said the letter.
 The letter concluded, "It is simply inexcusable to recycle this old program and ignore the invitations received by you over one year ago from two members of the scientific community who desired to assist in presenting something with scientific merit to the public and the farming community on stray voltage that went beyond the simple sensationalism of the original broadcast."
 -- The letters (attached) from the academic stray voltage experts were written following the original broadcast, and call the program's claims "preposterous." The letters are summarized below.
 Professor Ronald C. Gorewit of Cornell University wrote 60 Minutes to say that he found its program "disturbing and biased." "In the past, I've looked to Sixty Minutes as a paragon of truth, but in this instance, I know that you have stooped to sensationalism," wrote Dr. Gorewit. "I am very familiar with the Vandenberg and Daggett claims (cited in the program)," he said, "and after reviewing data from their farming operations firmly believe their losses in milk production and livestock were not caused by 'stray voltage.'"
 Dr. Gorewit wrote that he found "appalling" the fact that CBS chose to ignore published scientific research on this topic. After reviewing the research, CBS would have learned that "...stray voltage does not in fact cause 6 legged calves to be born, udders to explode and calves born with the roof of their mouths coming out of their heads!" He concludes that 60 Minutes has "created needless concern to the dairy farmers of America who viewed this program and may feel that any low milk production is due to stray voltage and stop looking for the real cause, which is most likely management related." Dr. Gorewit is making himself available to the news media to discuss stray voltage and the 60 Minutes program. His phone number is 607-255-2887.
 Separately, Professor Truman Surbrook of Michigan State University wrote to a 60 Minutes reporter that "Your coverage of stray voltage on 'Sixty Minutes' April 7, 1991 did little to tell people across the country what they should know about stray voltage. You made no mention of stray voltage being caused by the wiring on farms and in homes."
 After nearly 15 years of investigating stray voltage for farmers, homeowners, equipment manufacturers and utilities, "never have I heard such preposterous claims as portrayed on your 'Sixty Minutes' segment," wrote Professor Surbrook. He advised 60 Minutes to talk with university and U.S. Department of Agriculture stray voltage experts before again misleading millions of Americans on this subject.
 In a letter (attached) sent to CBS last week regarding the rebroadcast, Consumers Power stated, "We are disappointed that 60 Minutes has chosen to rebroadcast the April 1991 program.. and has decided not to interview anyone from Consumers Power Company... Consumers Power Company has not been contacted by the customer featured in your program to report any new stray voltage concerns."
 Consumers Power has routinely helped its farm customers deal with stray voltage conditions since the discovery of the phenomenon in the early 1980s. The company has a thorough stray voltage investigation service program which is specifically tailored to the needs of farm customers. Consumers Power promptly eliminates the company's component of stray voltage when discovered. The utility actively encourages farm customers to call for a free investigation if they suspect stray voltage problems. Consumers Power has committed resources, including sophisticated testing methods and electronic test equipment, to assist agricultural customers in isolating and eliminating the cause of the problem. Customers interested in the service can call the phone number listed on the front of their Consumers Power bill.
 Consumers Power Company, the principal subsidiary of CMS Energy Corporation (NYSE: CMS), is Michigan's largest natural gas and electric utility serving almost 6 million of the state's 9 million residents in 67 of the 68 Lower Peninsula counties.
 ---
 April 8, 1991
 Robert Anderson
 Sixty Minutes
 224 West 57th Street
 New York, NY 10019
 RE: Program on "stray voltage"
 Dear Mr. Anderson:
 This letter is in reference to your recent program on "Stray
 Voltage". I found it to be disturbing and biased. In the past,
 I've looked to Sixty Minutes as a paragon of truth, but in this
 instance, I know that you have stooped to sensationalism.
 You chose only two farmers, both of them claiming to have "stray
 voltage", to represent the entire dairy industry. I am very
 familiar with the Vandenberg and Daggett claims and after reviewing
 data from their farming operations firmly believe their losses in
 milk production and livestock were not caused by "stray voltage"
 (1 - 10 volts). Mention of the complexity of successful dairy
 farming was totally overlooked. Also appalling was the fact that
 the CBS team chose to ignore the published scientific research
 performed on the effects of stray voltages on dairy cattle which
 have been carried out over the past decade at Universities including
 Cornell and other agricultural research centers.
 I feel that it is unfair and completely reprehensible of any
 journalistic exercise not to accurately relate both sides of a
 story. I was privy to the fact that the utility companies, that you
 portrayed as villains, asked you to interview scientists, including
 myself, who have carried out years of stray voltage research.
 For your information, many refereed scientific papers have been
 published in respected journals dealing with certain aspects of
 stray voltage. Also, the United States Department of Agriculture is
 in the process of publishing a stray voltage "white paper" entitled,
 "Effects of Electrical Voltage/Current on Farm Animals: How to
 Detect and Remedy Problems." United States Department of
 Agriculture. Ed. A. Lefcourt. U.S. Government Printing Office,
 1991 (In press). It would be very helpful to your understanding of
 stray voltage if you would take time to read these reports. After
 reading these authoritative documents, you will learn that stray
 voltage does not in fact cause 6 legged calves to be born, udders to
 explode and calves born with the roof of their mouths coming out of
 their heads!
 I appreciate you welcoming comments from your viewers. I am afraid,
 however, that you have created needless concern to the dairy farmers
 of America who viewed this program and may feel that any low milk
 production is due to stray voltage and stop looking for the real
 cause, which is most likely management related. Dairy farming is a
 multifaceted business and many factors can either directly or
 indirectly cause lowered milk production.
 Sincerely yours,
 (Signature)
 Ronald C. Gorewit, M.S., Ph.D. (Sic) Cornell University
 Professor of Animal Physiology New York State College of
 Agriculture and Life Sciences
 Department of Animal Science
 Morrison Hall
 Ithaca, NY 14853-4801
 April 11, 1991
 Mr. Ed Bradley
 60 Minutes News
 524 W. 57th Street
 New York, NY 10019
 Dear Mr. Bradley:
 Stray voltage, better described as neutral-to-earth voltage, needs
 to be brought to public attention but not in an obviously biased
 manner as your "60 Minutes" presentation. A detectable level of
 neutral-to-earth voltage is a normal phenomenon of most grounded
 electrical systems in homes, farm buildings, commercial buildings,
 factories, and utility distribution systems. Sometimes the neutral-
 to-earth voltage level is high enough to cause problems.
 Your coverage of stray voltage on "60 Minutes" April 7, 1991 did
 little to tell people across the country what they should know about
 stray voltage. You made no mention of stray voltage being caused by
 the wiring on farms and in homes. If stray voltage rises to a
 dangerous level, it is most probably caused by electrical leakages
 from wiring and equipment in buildings or from a bad connection
 along the wires supplying buildings.
 I have been investigating stray voltage for farmers, homeowners,
 equipment manufacturers, and utility companies for nearly 15 years,
 and never have I heard such preposterous claims as portrayed on your
 "60 Minutes" segment.
 You should cover the subject again in the near future. The public
 deserves to know the truth. This time talk to university and USDA
 experts on the subject in advance. If you would like to get an
 accurate and informative 10 minute video presentation on stray
 voltage, contact Richard Hiatt of the National Food and Energy
 Council in Columbia, Missouri, 314/875-7155. I am sure he will be
 happy to provide you with a copy of their recent and accurate stray
 voltage video tape prepared especially for farmers.
 There is a vast body of accurate knowledge on this subject after
 nearly 10 years of extensive research on stray voltage. The
 objective now is to implement these findings.
 Sincerely,
 (Signature)
 Truman C. Surbrook, P.E. (Sic) Michigan State University
 Professor Department of Agricultural Eng.
 A.W. Farrall Agricultural
 Engineering Hall
 East Lansing, MI 48824-1323
 517-355-4720
 May 29, 1992
 Robert Anderson
 CBS/60 Minutes
 FAX NO: (212) 757-6975
 Mr. Anderson:
 We are disappointed that "Sixty Minutes" has chosen to re-broadcast
 the April 1991 program regarding stray voltage and has decided not
 to interview anyone from Consumers Power Company. The original
 program was severely criticized as irresponsible journalism by
 experts in stray voltage research. (See enclosed letters.)
 Consumers Power Company has not been contacted by the customer
 featured in your program to report any new stray voltage concerns.
 More important, the customer's on-farm electric system is being
 served from an ungrounded portion of the Consumers Power electric
 system. It is technically impossible for the ungrounded service to
 be the source of the farmer's stray voltage problems.
 Sincerely,
 (Signature)
 Charles E. MacInnis (Sic) Consumers Power Company
 Director, News & Information 212 W. Michigan Avenue
 Jackson, MI 49201
 -0- 6/8/92
 /CONTACT: Charles E. MacInnis of Consumers Power, 517-788-0333/
 (CMS) CO: Consumers Power Company; CBS ST: Michigan IN: UTI SU:


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