Saskatchewan

NDP wants provincial auditor to probe smart meter 'fiasco'

The NDP Opposition says "smart" power meter questions about fires and contracts should be subjected to an independent investigation — not one where the government investigates itself.

Several fires broke out after electronic meters installed outside homes

Bill Boyd, the minister responsible for SaskPower, says the provincial auditor is free to investigate whatever she wants. (Aldo Columpsi/CBC)

The NDP Opposition says "smart" power meter questions about fires and contracts should be subjected to an independent investigation — not one where the government investigates itself.

NDP leader Cam Broten said Wednesday he'd like the provincial auditor to "get to the bottom of this mess" and Premier Brad Wall should make that happen.

Over the past year, there have been a series of fires at homes where the new meters have been installed.

The NDP, calling the smart meter program a "fiasco", also released documents showing eight previous fires when the smart meters were in a test phase. 

SaskPower removed 105,000 smart meters, a process that was estimated to cost $47 million. (CBC)

They're called smart meters because they let SaskPower take power readings without using meter readers.

Broten says having government use its own Crown Investments Corporation (CIC) to investigate smart meters, including the contract that went out to a private firm, makes it an internal process.

That's why it has to be the auditor, he said.

"The provincial auditor reports to the people of the province to everyone and can give an honest assessment of everything that has happened," Broten said.

"So why even have this potential problem where we have the government investigating itself?"

Bill Boyd, the minister responsible for SaskPower, said the auditor can investigate whatever she wants. He also said the  government review will be independent, too.

"I think it's in everybody's interests — including the government — to ensure that the public get the details of if there were problems related to the contract," he said.

The government is now replacing some 105,000 smart meters that were installed.

Boyd says the potential cost of replacing the meters is still estimated at about $47 million.

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