smart meter

SaskPower says it will replace 105,000 smart meters, a process that is expected to cost $47 million. (CBC)

Fires associated with the installation of new smart meters by SaskPower, the province's electric utility, have led to the program being put on hold while the company investigates.

According to the company, a provincial Crown corporation, in the past two months there have been six fires related to the installation of the new devices.

The company is not counting a fire that took place in May at the home of Albert Kobialko, of Regina. SaskPower says the fire at that home was associated with the removal of old equipment prior to the installation of the new meter.

Kobialko, however, has been told his Glencairn home is not safe and will have to be rebuilt. He's working with an insurance company on that.

"I don't want to be out of here for two years," he said. He has a temporary home in another part of the city.

fire at home

There was a fire at Albert Kobialko's home in May when his power meter was being changed. (CBC)

SaskPower, meanwhile, has already installed some 105,000 new meters.

Tyler Hopson is a spokesman for the utility.

"It is a small number," Hopson said Tuesday, about the six fires. "Smart meters have been tested by us, and others, to ensure safety standards are met. So we think the risk is fairly low."

The installation of more meters will be delayed until SaskPower knows if the fire problem is with the new meter or related to the installation process.

"We've reassured customers that by and large the meters are safe," Hopson added. "We're looking after all damages and repairs at our cost."

Ultimately, SaskPower has plans to install a total of 500,000 new meters, by 2015.

Saskatoon Light and Power not affected

In Saskatoon, where many older neighbourhoods get their electric service from the city-owned utility, there are no plans to follow SaskPower's move.

According to an official, Saskatoon Light and Power — which has installed a number of new meters in the past six years — has not had any issues with the devices.

The city uses a different brand of meter than the one SaskPower is installing. As well, the city believes the fire issue relates to installation procedures and not the devices themselves.

Saskatoon's utility provides service to roughly those areas of the city within its boundaries of 1958.

With files from CBC's Roxanna Woloshyn