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[RFI] Power Line RFI in Corn Country

To: "RFI List" <rfi@contesting.com>
Subject: [RFI] Power Line RFI in Corn Country
From: "Dale Svetanoff" <svetanoff@earthlink.net>
Reply-to: svetanoff@earthlink.net
Date: Fri, 15 Jan 2010 22:47:15 -0600
List-post: <rfi@contesting.com">mailto:rfi@contesting.com>

New Years wishes to everyone.  I decided to get my new year off on a good start 
- or, so I hope!   Today, 15 January, I contacted Alliant Energy, my electric 
power provider, about severe RFI that has existed at or near my location for 
most of 2009.  (Yes, I should have done something about it months ago, but that 
elusive round-to-it could not be found.)  The bands most affected are 160, 75, 
and 40 meters.  I have determined that the primary source of the wide bandwidth 
buzz saw is about 1 mile from my shack, in an ESE direction.  A few rides in my 
truck with the AM radio tuned to the local station, 600 kHz WMT, found the 
hottest point.  WMT, with 5 kW about 15 miles away, is totally inaudible under 
the racket when driving by one particular cluster of power poles.

I made my call at about 2 PM local time.  At about 3:30 PM, local time, I had a 
call from a line engineer who said he had been to my house and was now parked 
under the power lines I had described to the very pleasant lady who took my 
call.  He confirmed that WMT was wiped out on the BC radio in his truck, as 
well.  Further, he mentioned that they have had a few complaints from farmers 
in that area that they can not hear the farm reports on WMT due to the noise.

When I moved out here 9 years ago, residual noise on 75 and 40 was about S0 to 
S3, max.  The noise level would go up to about S6 or S7 in the fall when the 
grain dryers are running (probably from their ignition systems).  There are 
dozens of grain dryers within a mile or so of my place.  In early 2009, the 
buzz saw started, intermittent at first, then got worse as the year went on.  
The noise level on 160m is now S9+10, on 75m it is S7 to S9, and on 40m, about 
S3 to S7.  I can hear harmonics of this stuff up as high as 6m.  Today was a 
first step.  The engineer told me that he will call in for their special RFI 
tracking unit to see what can be found.  One problem: the area in which the 
noise is located has power lines from two separate utilities:  Alliant has the 
12.5 kV lines for local distribution, and another company has the 34 kV lines 
for inter-area distribution.  If the noise is on the 34 kV lines, Alliant said 
that they will inform the other company and keep the ball r
 olling.  Hopefully, I will not have to chase down the other guys.

I am thrilled and amazed that Alliant had a crew on the problem barely more 
than an hour after I called.  The crew confirmed my suspicions and they 
understand that I am a licensed Amateur Radio op with a station (the engineer 
saw the tower farm at my house).  I have read about many fiascoes with power 
companies on the reflector, so I thought I'd post my experiences to see if my 
luck is any better or different.  I know that many, if not most, power 
companies do cooperate in RFI issues.  I won't bore you with a blog, but I'll 
update the list (or even ask questions) as the process evolves.  Hopefully, 
someone else can benefit from the info.

Note:  The lady who took my info said that I provided much more and better 
details than they usually get.  For the record, I gave her my specific 
location, the road intersection where I found max noise, the call letters and 
frequency of the local AM station, and a description on the sound and what has 
been happening (including the fact that the whole mess may clear up for several 
minutes to an hour at a time).  I also gave her the specific frequency bands 
that have been most affected.  

73, Dale
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