Sensus meter fires: Nevada media fans flames over NV Energy response

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Sensus SaskPower smart meter firesIn the US, local media in Nevada are drawing parallels between the Sensus smart electricity meter fires in Regina in Saskatchewan, Canada, and Reno.

An editorial in the Reno Gazette-Journal at the weekend said although the smart meter experiences in Nevada and Canada are not exact, “it is hard not to notice similarities”.

The opinion-piece said that initially the failures only affected the outside of a home, so much so that in Nevada, some fires were too small to be investigated.

Next was the cause of the meter failures. “In Canada, the fires were blamed on dust and water getting inside the meter casings,” said the editorial. “In Nevada, one fire was blamed on water getting inside a meter and another involved a door slamming, causing the smart meter to get jiggled.”

And yes, the manufacturer of all the meters was the same – Sensus.

Slow to react

However, the newspaper takes the opportunity to criticise NV Energy’s response to the crisis.

Following an investigation into the SaskPower fires, CEO Robert Watson resigned and the meters were recalled.

After several Sensus smart meters overheated in Philadelphia in 2012, with two serious house fires reported, the utility there ordered all Sensus meters recalled.

Earlier this year in Portland, three small smart meter fires were reported. Portland General Electric decided to replace 70,000 meters.

The editorial points out that if NV Energy reacted the same as Portland General Electric — which recalled 70,000 meters for three minor fires — then NV Energy would order a recall after 47 of its 1.1 million meters were linked to fires.

NV Energy has until mid-December to turn over detailed records about smart meter failures to the Nevada Public Utility Commission and the local media will be watching and waiting for a significant reaction.