Current Status: Ordered referred to the Standing Committee on General Government
Bill 161 2016
An Act to prohibit harmful electrical ground current
The laws of physics for electrical engineering require that electrons flowing from a substation transformer return there to complete the circuit. This is normally accomplished by the use of neutral wires provided by an electrical distribution or transmission system. However, if those wires provide more than one neutral path for the electrical current to use to complete the circuit, the current will use the earth’s surface as the path of least resistance and, in that way, can travel through yards, buildings, fields, human beings and animals.
This ground current pollution is a major problem for hospitals, manufacturing plants and farms. On farms, the levels of ground current pollution can become so high that human beings and animals feel electrical shocks. These shocks disrupt the comfort of human beings and animals and can harm their health and adversely affect farm income. Adverse effects can also occur even if there are no shocks.
As we increase our use of electric power in Ontario, the potential for ground current pollution will also increase. This can result from a combination of an antiquated distribution system in some areas, inadequate neutral returns, multiple grounded neutral conductors and poor quality of electricity generated by electronic equipment.
Therefore, Her Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Ontario, enacts as follows:
1. In this Act,
“distribution system” means a system for distributing electricity, and includes any structures, equipment or other things used for that purpose; (“réseau de distribution”)
“electricity provider” means a person, whether incorporated or not, that owns or operates a distribution system or a transmission system, including a utility and a local distribution company; (“fournisseur d’électricité”)
“grounding conductor” means an intentionally installed conductor that connects a distribution system or a transmission system to a grounding electrode or electrodes; (“conducteur de terre”)
“livestock” means animals or poultry designated as livestock in the regulations made under the Livestock and Livestock Products Act; (“bétail”)
“objectionable current flow” means the state of any steady flow of alternating electrical current for five seconds or more in the ground or on a grounding conductor or any other conductor that is not designed to carry electrical current but does not include any temporary flow of electrical current that is caused by a phase-to-ground fault condition and that results from the performance of a grounding conductor’s protective functions regarding faults or lightning; (“courant indésirable”)
“transmission system” means a system for transmitting electricity, and includes any structures, equipment or other things used for that purpose; (“réseau de transport”)
“wildlife” means animals, birds or other living things living in an undomesticated state. (“animaux sauvages”)
Prohibition, electricity provider
2. No electricity provider shall cause an objectionable current flow to occur,
(a) on land or in water that is used by individuals, livestock or wildlife; or
(b) in buildings occupied by individuals or livestock.
Complaint and duties of electricity provider
3. (1) A person who has reasonable grounds to believe that an objectionable current flow has occurred contrary to section 2 may file a complaint in writing with the electricity provider that the person believes is responsible for the occurrence.
(2) An electricity provider that receives a complaint under subsection (1) shall,
(a) within 10 days of receiving it, acknowledge receipt of the complaint; and
(b) within 30 days of receiving the complaint investigate it or have it investigated by the Electrical Safety Authority or other similar organization competent to do so at the expense, if any, of the provider.
(3) As part of the investigation, the person or entity doing the investigation shall prepare a report giving an opinion on whether an objectionable current flow has occurred contrary to section 2 and if so, the source of the objectionable current flow and its recommendation on measures to take to prevent a recurrence.
Copies of report
(4) The person or entity doing the investigation shall give a copy of its report to the electricity provider and the complainant.
(5) If either the electricity provider or the complainant disagrees with the findings in the report, either party can, within 10 days of receiving the copy of the report, request in writing that the Electrical Safety Authority or other similarly competent organization do a further investigation if the other party does not make a request under this subsection or if both parties agree on what entity should do the further investigation.
Investigator if parties disagree
(6) If both the electricity provider and the complainant request a further investigation under subsection (5) and cannot agree on what entity should do it, the complainant shall have the right, within 10 days after the end of the 10 day period mentioned in subsection (5), to choose a similarly competent organization to the Electrical Safety Authority to do the further investigation.
Cost of further investigation
(7) The entity that does the further investigation shall do so at the expense of the party requesting it.
Time for report
(8) The entity that does the further investigation shall prepare a report within 30 days of receiving a request to do the investigation and subsections (3) and (4) apply to the investigation as if it were an original investigation under those subsections.
Duty of electricity provider
(9) If the report of the investigation mentioned in clause (2) (b) or, if there is a further investigation mentioned in subsection (5), the report of that investigation reveals that the distribution system or transmission system of the electricity provider is responsible for causing the objectionable current flow, the provider shall,
(a) reimburse the complainant for the costs that the entity that did the further investigation incurred in doing it, if the further investigation was done at the expense of the complainant; and
(b) within five months of receiving the copy of the report, implement the measures recommended in the applicable report and take all other necessary steps to eliminate the objectionable current flow and to prevent a recurrence.
4. An electricity provider that fails to comply with clause 3 (9) (b) is guilty of an offence and on conviction is liable to a fine of $1,000 for each day after the end of the five-month period mentioned in that clause that the electricity provider fails to comply.
Elimination of objectionable current flow
5. The Government of Ontario shall begin to develop a comprehensive plan for the elimination of objectionable current flows in Ontario within two years after the day on which this section comes into force and shall complete and implement the plan within 10 years of that day.
6. This Act comes into force on the day it receives Royal Assent.
7. The short title of this Act is the Elimination of Ground Current Pollution Act, 2016.
The Bill prohibits electricity providers from causing occurrences of objectionable current flow, which is commonly and erroneously known as stray voltage or tingle voltage. The scientifically correct term is ground current or uncontrolled electricity.
Electrical current flow is objectionable if it is a steady flow of alternating electrical current in the ground or on a grounding conductor or any other conductor that is not designed to carry electrical current. It does not include any temporary flow of electrical current that is caused by a phase-to-ground fault condition and that results from the performance of a grounding conductor’s protective functions regarding faults or lightning.
An electricity provider that receives a complaint about objectionable current flow is required to have the complaint investigated. The person or entity doing the investigation is required to report to the provider and the complainant. Either party who disagrees with the findings of the report can request a further investigation. If the applicable investigation shows that the provider is responsible for an occurrence of objectionable current flow, the provider is required, within five months of receiving the report, to take all necessary steps to eliminate the objectionable current flow and to prevent a recurrence. It is an offence for a provider to fail to do so.
The Government of Ontario has two years from the date on which the Bill receives Royal Assent to develop a plan to eliminate objectionable current flow in Ontario and has 10 years from that date to implement the plan throughout Ontario.