The Saskatchewan government’s order for SaskPower to remove 105,000 smart meters installed at homes and businesses does not apply to parts of Saskatoon that receive service from that city’s Light & Power utility. According to Saskatoon officials, their meter replacement program, which uses Elster as its supplier, has not had any problems.
SaskPower engineers have suggested that the Sensus meters the utility deployed are a possible factor in eight recent house fires. Doubts about the devices’ safety led to the decision to recall every one of the 105,000 Sensus meters installed by the provincial utility.
Sensus has taken issue with the engineers’ conclusions and in a statement presented to CBC News said: “Be assured that there are no safety issues with Sensus electric meters that support today’s decision by the provincial government of Saskatchewan. Safety is our number one priority, and all Sensus meters are subject to rigorous testing and meet or exceed all industry safety standards. We have no confirmation that the meter is the source. We are working with SaskPower to understand what specific events led to those issues and to determine the best course of action. The investigation is still underway. Sensus underscores the critical importance of careful meter installation procedures, including the examination of meter boxes and wiring at installation, training of meter installers and the need to have rapid remedial action when field problems are observed. There are approximately 10 million Sensus meters in North America operating safely and reliably.”
Saskatoon has about 60,000 customers on its system and approximately half of them have received new meters. By comparison, SaskPower had planned to replace a total of 500,000 meters. The utility estimates the recall will cost as much as $15 million.
Bill Boyd, the minister responsible for the Saskatchewan Power Corporation, indicated to CBC News that it may be a while before smart meters are reintroduced. “We are not going to see these smart meters installed any time soon, that’s for sure. We will continue to evaluate the technologies going forward. We’ll continue to evaluate additional smart meters going forward and look at them in the context of Saskatchewan’s climactic conditions to ensure that they will be absolutely safe.”