- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 21, 2014

WORTHINGTON, Minn. (AP) - Increasingly large farm machinery is causing more costly and potentially dangerous collisions with power lines and poles, rural Minnesota electric co-ops say.

More than 2,000 customers of Federated Rural Electric, based in the southwest part of the state, lost power last month when a farmer tilling a field hit a transmission tower.

It was the third farm-related accident Federated Rural Electric has seen this fall, company spokeswoman Andrea Christoffer tells Minnesota Public Radio News (http://bit.ly/1r8hOnH ). And a farmer wrecked five power poles in a similar incident last spring, she said.

Terry Ebright, a safety coordinator at Sioux Valley Energy, said the co-op typically sees a couple of collisions each month.

“We’ve got about 20 contacts from farm equipment into our power lines since January first of this year,” Ebright said.

Many of the accidents damage the electric system, he said, and a power pole replacement costs the company a couple thousand dollars. Farm machinery can also be destroyed when it hits power equipment, causing damages in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Although no one has been injured in the accidents, Ebright is concerned it will happen eventually due to the possibility of electrocution, which plays a significant role in farm-related deaths. About 60 farmers die in electrical accidents nationwide each year.

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Information from: Minnesota Public Radio News, http://www.mprnews.org

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