A SHOCKING REALITY: Proposed power lines threaten multi-generational, award-winning farm

Kestell family
Posted at 10:03 AM, Jul 05, 2024

LYNDON, Wisc. — Chris Kestell's farm has been in his family for three generations.

Ever-Green-View Farms is a multi-award winning and world-record-setting dairy farm near the Town of Lyndon, Wisconsin, known for its prized Holstein cow embryos sold across the world.

Kestell family

But Kestell said there's a chance the family legacy is coming to an end. He puts the blame on power company American Transmission Co, or ATC.

VIDEO: Proposed power lines threaten multi-generational, award-winning farm

A SHOCKING REALITY: Proposed power lines threaten multi-generational, award-winning farm

"You work so hard for these properties and all the people along have done that, and make them your homes," he said. "These people have no respect for that at all.”

At the beginning of 2024, ATC submitted an application to install a transmission power line route as part of the Plymouth Reliability Project, an initiative aimed at bringing more reliable electricity to four main locations: The ANR natural gas pipeline, DNR fish hatchery, Kettle Moraine Correctional Institution and the Town of Mitchell.

This addition would be the fourth power line system in Lyndon alone, and ATC's preferred route (in blue) cuts right through Kestell's pasture.

Ever-Green-View Farms - Lyndon, WI

"We’ve had stray voltage problems in the past," he explained. "We’ve invested over $100,000 into rewiring the farm to mitigate [that]."

Stray voltage comes from electrical currents that can be felt even from underground. Cows may get shocked when drinking water or urinating.

Watch: Farmers explain to TMJ4's Mikenzie Hammel how this project would harm their cows:

Proposed power lines threaten multi-generational, award-winning farm

"It swells up their joints, it can cause mastitis which is an infection in the mammary system...infertility problems," Kestell listed.

Cow, Ever-Green-View Farms

Many farmers know stray voltage to cause difficulty conceiving, calf miscarriages, and decreased milk production.

For Kestell's family, this would devalue the embryos they're so famous for — in places like Pakistan, China, India, and Japan among many others.

Reporter Mikenzie Hammel reached out to ATC to see what solutions they might have if this transmission line is approved. The company said tests regularly for stray voltage, but if problems arise, they'll correct it free-of-charge to the landowner.

But that's not the only thing he's worried about.

"Animals are one thing, but my children are going to be living within 30 feet of these lines at all times," Kestell expressed.

Transmission lines do emit electromagnetic radiation, however the American Cancer Society reports that tests measuring people's exposure to this kind of radiation are hard to conduct. So far, they have been inconclusive as to whether it poses an increased risk for cancer.

But it hasn't been ruled out.

Kestell said he doesn't want to get far enough to find out.

“The legacy of the property is bar none, to follow my dad’s footsteps and for my kids to follow all of our footsteps," he noted. "[Farmers] just want to raise their animals in peace and have a reliable power source for everybody. But let’s plan it the correct way.”

ATC said it welcomes anyone to submit feedback, including suggested routes, to the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin — the entity that will approve or deny the project.

Public and technical hearings are scheduled to start in August.