Smart meter safety: SaskPower ‘close’ to 105k Sensus unit recall


SaskPower close to replacing 105k metersCanadian utility SaskPower is “really close” to completing the recall of 105,000 Sensus Generation 3.3 smart electric meters across the province of Saskatchewan following 10 failures in 2014 involving the advanced metering technology. 

Spokesman Tyler Hopson said there are a few remaining meters that haven’t been removed due to cold weather or difficulties accessing properties or homes, reports local newspaper the Leader-Post.

Mr Hopson however said the process of removing 105,000 by March 15, following orders from the provincial government, had “gone fairly smoothly”.

Cost of smart meter recall

The spokesman confirmed that the cost of removing the smart meters and replacing them with analogue units is likely to meet the CAD15 million (US$12 million) budgeted by SaskPower for the recall.

The final cost won’t be known until the removals are complete, reports the Leader-Post.

In September 2014, SaskPower struck a deal with Sensus to recoup some of the costs of recalling 105,000 units following fires linked to the products.

The energy company agreed to contribute a cash injection of US$24 million towards the US$47 million cost of removing the Sensus Generation 3 meters and replacing them with a basic digital device.

Customer reaction to meter fires

Following a 10th smart meter fire in SaskPower’s service territory, the utility had publicised a priority list for meter removal. However, Hopson confirmed that 2,800 people or under 3% of SaskPower’s customer base had asked for an urgent meter replacement.

Looking ahead to future smart metering in Saskatchewan, Hopson said the utility is developing specifications that address the specific climatic conditions in Saskatchewn with Mr Marsh predicting that new models of smart meters won’t be installed in the province “until well into 2016”.

Ontario also withdraws smart meters

Meanwhile, in the Canadian state of Ontario, the Electrical Safety Authority is working to a deadline of March 31 for the removal of 5,400 Sensus Generation 3.2 remote disconnect meters across the province due to safety concerns.

The conclusion by the Electrical Safety Authority that “even though the probability of a serious event in Ontario is low …we have taken the proactive and prudent step and directed local distribution companies (LDCs) to remove these meters from service in order to eliminate any risk”.

North Carolina-based metering company Sensus said it was “disappointed with the decision”.

Linda Palmer, director of corporate communications at Sensus, said: “Our Ontario customers are satisfied with the operation of all of their Sensus meters — they have had no issues with the safety of their meters, which have been in operation for more than nine years,” she said in an email to a local Canadian media source.