(Au Nevada, les mêmes types de défaillances qu’au Canada : des compteurs noircis qui ont fondu, et peu étanches laissant pénétrer l’eau provoquant des courts circuits et des incendies.)
3 novembre 2014 – Source : RGJ – Reno Gazette Journal
Probe: Canadian utility ignored meter fire warning signs
A recent Canadian government investigation into eight smart meter fires in Saskatchewan found the meters are susceptible to water and dust intrusion, which is a « major factor » in the meters’ propensity to burst into flame, the report released last week found. The investigation also faulted the Canadian utility that installed the meters for not identifying the fire risk to consumers early in the process despite significant warning signs.
The Sensus-brand smart meters that caught fire in Saskatchewan are the same brand of smart meters that have been associated with 11 fires in Northern Nevada. And the warning signs noted in the Canadian government’s investigation also could have raised red flags for NV Energy, which installed more than 1 million Sensus meters on homes and business across the state beginning in 2011.
The Canadian report faults SaskPower for failing to react to the potential for fires despite three specific warning signs: A letter from a competitor of Sensus identifying the fire risk, a 2010 lawsuit claiming the meters posed a fire risk and a problem of overheating meters in Philadelphia that lead to thousands of Sensus meters being replaced in 2012.
Saskatchewan ordered the removal of more than 100,000 Sensus meters this summer after eight fires. The utility reached a $47 million settlement with Sensus to replace the meters.
In Nevada, the Reno and Sparks fire chiefs have raised safety concerns after noting nine fires they believe to be connected to the smart meters. Two additional fires were identified in Gardnerville.
Most of the fires caused very little damage, destroying just the meter and blackening the outside wall. In Reno, one suspicious fire killed a woman and another injured a man’s face.
NV Energy began installing its smart grid technology with the help of a $130 million federal grant in 2011. The smart meters, which wirelessly transmit information on electricity usage, replaced traditional analog meters that had to be read on site.
NV Energy officials have steadfastly denied the meters are at fault in the fires. The company’s own investigators have found other contributing causes such as loose jaws in the panel the meter was plugged into, a slamming door or tampering.
But in three of the fires, NV Energy identified water damage as a contributing cause. In two cases, heavy rains preceded the fire and in a third a worker had used a pressure washer to hose down the wall containing the meter.
The Canadian investigation found « evidence that the Sensus Generation 3.3 meters are not very well sealed to keep
moisture and dust out » and that moisture and dust were a « major factor in the fires. »
The report said Sensus was developing a new meter that is better sealed from dust and water.
NV Energy’s Gary Smith, however, said the company has conducted its own testing and has found the meters are not susceptible to leaks.
« We saw the types of panels (other jurisdictions were testing) weren’t the same as the panels we use in Nevada, » Smith said. « So we had the test performed with our meters, our locking rings and our panels. We got back that the Gen 3 meters with our panels passed the test for water tightness. »
Smith said some homes have had problems with runoff or exposure, making their meters more vulnerable to leaks. In those cases, NV Energy worked with the homeowners to fix the problem, he said.
After concerns raised by the Reno and Sparks fire chiefs, the Public Utilities Commission voted to launch a preliminary inquiry into the safety of the meters and has ordered NV Energy to turnover documentation related to its smart meter program.
NV Energy officials have said they will participate fully in the inquiry.
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