Under the project, SaskPower will replace some 105,000 smart meters which the utility firm had installed and removed in 2014.
The energy provider removed the smart meters in 2014 in line with an order stated by the Saskatchewan state government. The provincial state government called for the removal of the smart meters as a safety measure, following reports that the smart meters were the cause of a fire outbreak which hit the province in 2014.
However, the utility company is up to now, refuting allegations that the causes of fire in eight separate incidents which took place in Saskatchewan in 2014, were related to the utility’s smart meters.
Mike March, CEO of SaskPower, said his firm “worked with meter rating agencies, we’ve tested our commercial and industrial meters over the past year.
“There were no houses that caught fire, so let’s not exaggerate.”
According to local news source, the Regina Leader-Post, there were eight fires traced back to smart metres. The first one was in May 2014, at a house in Regina; at the time SaskPower maintained it wasn’t a fire, even when it was called as much by Regina Fire and Protective Services.
SaskPower said it is currently in discussions with Xylem, the new owners of Sensus, to carry on with the agreement that was in place with Sensus previously.
“When the program was cancelled, SaskPower got a cash refund of $24 million from Sensus for the meters it had purchased. Sensus also gave the Crown corporation an $18-million credit for providing new meters, which was on top of $5 million Sensus used to research and develop a new smart meter for SaskPower,” noted the Regina Leader-Post.
“A review of the program led to then-SaskPower CEO Robert Watson resigning shortly after.
“That review found a flawed-process in selecting Sensus to supply the smart meters, as well as an over-reliance on external consultations, in which warning signs and customer safety were ignored.”
Cathy Sproule, the NDP SaskPower critic, reportedly said: “I would suspect given the failure of the last go-around, that SaskPower will be extra careful in ensuring people will be protected and their residences will be protected with any new technology.”
The utility will begin its smart meter installation with industrial and commercial customers in mid-2017.
SaskPower and grid reliability
The programme falls under efforts by SaskPower to ensure it accurately bills its customers and improve management of its grid network through access to real-time data on grid events.
In late November, SaskPower announced its partnership with the country’s Ministry of Economy to ensure its grid reliability by increasing its grid system’s total energy capacity through the deployment of renewable energy generation projects.
In so doing, SaskPower will be able to meet growing power demand on its distribution system.
The energy company will ensure it stays ahead of carbon emission reduction targets by increasing its adoption of clean energy and low-carbon emission generation sources.
SaskPower plans to generate 50% of its total power capacity from renewable energy by 2030.
In the first quarter of the year, the company will issue tenders for the implementation of wind and solar energy generation projects to add additional capacity to its grid network. Apart from wind power generation, SaskPower will seek a project partner for the development and integration of a 10MW solar energy plant.
The utility firm aims to reach its goal of generating 60MW of utility-scale solar energy by 2021. [Canada partners on energy storage technologies]
In addition to investing in new generation projects, SaskPower will interconnect its grid network with electricity networks of utilities in other provinces to meet its energy demands in Saskatchewan province.