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Canadian utility SaskPower has halted its smart meter rollout as it investigates recent fires associated with the meters.

As part of a smart grid project, the company plans to deploy 500,000 smart meters across Saskatchewan and has so far installed about 105,000 units. However, over the past two months, there have been six reported fires at the meters. Tyler Hopson, a SaskPower spokesperson, tells Renew Grid that each incident involved a Sensus smart meter.

According to a July 16 blog post on the utility’s website, the incidents, which the company terms “meter failures,” were “caused by apparent heating at the meter.”

“The safety of our customers and employees is our first priority and is non-negotiable. We take each instance very seriously and, as such, are investigating fully,” the blog says. “It’s important to note that in all cases, the problem has been contained to the location of the meter.”

SaskPower also points out that the six affected meters represent only 0.006% of the total 105,000 units already deployed. Nonetheless, the utility says it has stopped smart meter installations indefinitely until it completes its investigations and feels any potential risks have been addressed. 

“Nothing is more important than the safety of our customers and employees,” writes SaskPower. “While our meters comply with industry standards, we are taking the extra step of ensuring we have done everything possible to ensure the highest level of safety.”

This is not the first time Sensus smart meters have been tied to fires: In 2012, Renew Grid reported that Philadelphia-based utility PECO suspended its smart meter program after experiencing overheating issues with its Sensus meters.

Overall, a PECO spokesperson said there were more than 25 overheating incidents, three of which resulted in fires. Although the utility initially said investigations showed installation issues or “pre-existing conditions with customer equipment” were to blame, PECO later opted to swap out the Sensus meters for Landis+Gyr units and resumed its smart meter program.

When reached for comment for this story, Sensus requested that questions be directed to SaskPower and did not provide further comment regarding the PECO incidents.


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