Toronto

Fear of fire hazard causes removal of thousands of smart meters

Ontario's Electrical Safety Authority is directing local utilities to replace a certain model of smart meter as a "preventative step" after reviewing reports of problematic metres in Saskatchewan.

Saskatchewan removed more than 100,000 meters last year because of fires

Ontario's Electrical Safety Authority is directing local utilities to replace a certain model of smart meter "as a preventative step" after reviewing reports of problematic metres in Saskatchewan.

Last summer, the Saskatchewan government ordered SaskPower to remove more than 100,000 newer model meters that had already been installed after reports of nine fires related to the equipment.

An investigation in Saskatchewan found that rain water and contaminants getting into the meters appeared to contribute to them failing.

In Ontario, the Electrical Safety Authority says no local utilities are using the model installed in Saskatchewan.

It says "no serious safety events" have been reported in Ontario but still wants a certain smart meter model removed by March 31 as a precaution.

There are 5,400 of these meters in Ontario, which is a tenth of a per cent of the 4.8 million meters in the province. The ESA has posted a list of how many of the affected smart meters have been deployed by power companies around Ontario. Bluewater Power Distribution, which covers Sarnia and other communities in southwestern Ontario, has the most with over 3,400, followed by 449 with Waterloo North Hydro.

The province's auditor general criticized smart meters in her 2014 annual report, saying the $2-billion program has so far spent double its projected cost and has not led to the government's electricity conservation goals being met.

The Ontario environmental commissioner has said the gap between peak and off-peak prices needs to be much higher in order to encourage people to conserve.

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