SaskPower says smart meter company will pay back $24M in cash

A deal has been struck between SaskPower and the company that sold it thousands of smart meters.

A deal has been struck between SaskPower and the company that sold it thousands of smart meters.

Some 105,000 smart meters — which are digital and can be read from a remote location — are being pulled after fires in a number of units.

SaskPower says it has reached a deal with the Sensus company to recover part of the $47-million cost of removing those meters.

Of the $47 million, $24 million is cash.

In addition, there's an $18-million credit for what SaskPower is calling "future metering products". If SaskPower doesn't need to use the credit, the $18 million will be returned as cash as well.

There is also another $5-million to research and develop a new meter for SaskPower.

SaskPower CEO Robert Watson defended continuing to work with Sensus even though a review hasn't been completed and the Crown utility doesn't know what caused the smart meter problems.

"We fully believe that the review is going to show that SaskPower took all the steps necessary — in fact, independent advice, independent verification — all the steps necessary to select Sensus as a good supplier," Watson said.

Watson said he was optimistic SaskPower will be able to regain the confidence of its customers.

"That's why it's important, quite frankly, that we install — go back to square one, put back the digital meters that were in there and then start again and come systematically forward to not only design, manufacture, test and verify that this meter is something we can put on our customers's buildings."

SaskPower says the new meters will meet Underwriters Laboratories standards and pass safety verification by an independent third party to ensure they function safely in Saskatchewan. 

The Crown corporation also released a list of eight "failures" where melting or smoke was present.

The dates and the locations include:

  • June 16, McLean
  • June 30, Pilot Butte
  • June 30, Regina
  • June 30, Strasbourg-Earl Grey
  • July 9, Pasqua First Nation
  • July 13, Saskatoon
  • July 26, Saskatoon
  • Aug. 9, Regina

The smart meter issue has turned into a political football, with the New Democrats calling on Premier Brad Wall to have the Provincial Auditor hold an independent inquiry into what the NDP calls a "fiasco."