Rick in the News

Chatham Daily News: Sensus model smart meter linked to fire concerns

January 23, 2015

Original article posted by the Chatham Daily News.

The Electrical Safety Authority (ESA) has issued a bulletin to Ontario’s electrical utilities to replace or discontinue use of Sensus 3.2 with remote disconnect meters.

The ESA issued a media release Thursday stating the action is a direct result of a due diligence review after reports of safety incidents involving this model of smart meter in Saskatchewan. The meters were ordered removed there over fire concerns.

The ESA is acting according to its powers and responsibilities under the Electricity Act and Ontario Regulation 22/04 Electrical Distribution Safety.

Dan Charron, vice-president of engineering at Entegrus, said the local utility “didn’t install Sensus smart meters, so they don’t have any issues.”

He added, “if we noticed a problem we would initiate an investigation immediately, we wouldn’t wait for the ESA.”

Charron said Entegrus has some smart meters that have been in service now for more than a decade.

It took a few years to get all the smart meters installed, he said, but added there has been “no issues at all” even with the earliest smart meters in the system.

There are a reported 5,400 Sensus 3.2 with remote disconnect meters in Ontario, based on information from the Ontario Energy Board. The ESA stated this amounts to one-tenth of 1% of the 4.8 million meters in the province.

“Although there have been no serious incidents reported in Ontario involving these meters, when we learned of the events in Saskatchewan we undertook a due diligence safety review to determine if there were any implications for Ontario,” said David Collie, ESA’s president and CEO in a written release.

“Even though the probability of a serious event in Ontario is low, nonetheless we have taken the proactive and prudent step and directed LDC’s (Local Distribution Companies) to remove these meters from service in order to eliminate any risk,” he added.

Chatham-Kent Essex MPP Rick Nicholls, who serves as the Progressive Conservative’s Community Safety and Correctional Services Critic, issued a media release Thursday criticizing the government’s response time on this issue.

“After hearing of the recall in Saskatchewan, we questioned why Ontario’s government was taking no action on this public safety issue,” the MPP said in a written release. “We asked if any smart meters here in Ontario were at risk of causing a fire and, if so, when will the government recall them.”

He said the Ontario Fire Marshal’s office has stated these smart meters have been linked to 13 small fires since 2011.

“This is obviously a public safety threat,” Nicholls said. “I am pleased that these potentially dangerous meters will be recalled, but at the same time am concerned that it has taken many months since seeing Saskatchewan recall similar meters for the province to act.”