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Saskatchewan bringing back smart metres after fires in 2014

Program will start next year with commercial and industrial smart meters.


REGINA — The head of Saskatchewan’s power company says smart meters are returning to the province despite a failed attempt to use the devices a couple of years ago.

SaskPower CEO Mike Marsh says the program will start next year with commercial and industrial smart meters, adding most of those companies have asked for the device.

Marsh says smart meters will likely be installed on homes in 2018.

In 2014, the province ordered SaskPower to remove more than 100,000 smart meter models after reports of eight cases where the devices caught fire during June and July of that year.

A review after the fires found rain water and contaminants getting into the meters appeared to contribute to their failure.

Marsh says SaskPower has worked with meter reading agencies and tested the commercial and industrial smart meters over the past year.

“We’ll continue to test our commercial and industrial product and, as the residential meter becomes available for testing over the next 12 months, we’ll be deploying that into the field,” Marsh said Wednesday.

“Then we’ll move into a program where we will be deploying our residential meters back into the market place from 2018 going forward. We expect that it’ll take a number of years after that.”

Smart meters are used to measure time-of-use electricity consumption for most residential and small business ratepayers.

But the review also found that the remote reading function never worked properly and there were so many false alarms for overheating that SaskPower could not investigate them all. Even after 100,000 installations, SaskPower had to read all of the smart meters manually.

NDP SaskPower critic Cathy Sproule says smart meter technology needs to be right.

“I would suspect, given the kind of failure of the last go-around, that SaskPower will be extra careful in ensuring that people are protected and that residences will be protected with any new technology,” said Sproule.

News from © Canadian Press Enterprises Inc. 2016

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