2015-06-11 Technical info. explaining design flaws in smart meters

Last night I included my formal complaint against Dr. Perry Kendall to the BC College of Physicians and Surgeons. I hope each of you will consider writing to the college yourself with your concerns.   And if you are unable to write something yourself, then would you please write to the College saying you would like to join me in my complaint? It is far preferable, and will be taken far more seriously, if you take the time to write something yourself about your personal concerns, no matter how little you say or how badly (you think) it is written. If we want changes to be made, it won’t happen unless we all work together.

 

  • A member sent in the attached photo of a new duplex next door to her. The 2 smart meters are less than 10 ft. from 2 gas meters. This probably is happening all over the province, but shouldn’t be. I suggested she send the photo and the notice re. Quebec Hydro to Hydro, BCUC, BC Safety Authority and Bennett with a warning that they will be held liable should something happen. I hope anyone with a similar set up does the same thing. This is a tragedy waiting to happen.

 

  • From a member in the Fortis area:

 I understand that some of you are receiving calls from FortisBC threatening to cut off your power if you don’t accept a smart meter.   These bullying tactics are not acceptable.  Please record your calls.  Area D Director Tom Siddon and Penticton Herald Reporter Joe Fries are very interested in what Fortis is saying to you.  Again, please record these calls, and get in touch with me. (PrecautionaryPrinciple1st@gmail.com)   I will get you in touch with Tom and Joe.  They want to hear your stories.

 

  • Below is a letter I sent to the Ontario Electrical Safety Authority with technical information that I’ve learned over the last couple of years which prove that smart meters are fire hazards. I hope you will share this with your friends, send to BC Hydro, BCUC, Bill Bennett, your MLA, and the media. It’s time that Hydro faced the fact that these meters were designed to fail, and failure puts our lives and homes at risk. I will be writing a separate letter with this info. for Bennett, Hydro, et al.

 

  • The Ontario Electrical Safety Authority released a press release saying, as we expected, that the fire in Collingwood was not caused by the smart meter. They say it started below the smart meter because of the burn below the smart meter. Hey, when plastic burns and melts, there will be marking below the meter. The victim is asking for details of the reports, and if I get them, I will share.

 

Smart Meter Not Cause of Fire – ESA says fire started somewhere else by Mariane McLeod – Bayshore Broadcasting – June 11, 2015:
http://www.bayshorebroadcasting.ca/news_item.php?NewsID=75612

 

  • A letter from Dr. Mac Paterson that should be shared widely:

http://www.pentictonwesternnews.com/opinion/307010961.html

 And a short video interview with Dr. Paterson  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=He-sF7MemWM&feature=youtu.be

 

  • An important article regarding the Paris Appeal and the efforts of industry, in collusion with major organizations like the BC Cancer Society, to block efforts to educate the public and to reduce exposures to RF radiation Please share widely.

 

“Our cancer institutes have colluded with the industry to downplay the sharp rise in brain tumours and other cancers since the introduction of these technologies, especially in those under age 40. According to Eileen O’Connor of Powerwatch UK, one study has shown over a 700 percent increase in brain tumours in young adults compared to other cancers.”

 https://chameleonfire1.wordpress.com/2015/06/07/scientists-petition-un-for-better-radiation-exposure-standards/

 ————————

Letters:

 

Mr. Steve Smith                                                                                June 11, 2015

General Manager

Electrical Safety Authority

Toronto, Ontario

steve.smith@electricalsafety.on.ca

 

Dear Mr. Smith,

 

In 2012 Armen Kassabian, Ontario Fire Marshal, wrote a report that expressed serious concerns about the safety of smart meters, regardless of the brand.  They fail.  They melt.  They burn.  http://www.stopsmartmeters.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/FireMarshallReportSmartMeterFires-Canada.pdf

 

He was right.  I’ve been tracking smart meter problems across North America for the past two years and those problems still exist. I know.  Smart meters still fail.  They still melt.  They still burn.  And, with the help of input from experts including electricians, electrical engineers and utility insiders, I can prove it.

 

You’re reviewing the Sensus meter that exploded and caused a fire in Collingwood, but I can tell you that smart meters, regardless of the brand, have the same basic design flaws that have caused many who are far more knowledgeable than I  to conclude that smart meters are fire hazards. They should not be allowed to put the lives of Canadians at risk.

 

Following is some of the information I’ve gathered which I hope will help you in your review.

 

  1.  Smart meter and digital meter fires are real – they can and do catch fire for a number of reasons (see 4. for some examples) – and, when 240 VAC current direct from the grid starts flowing to ground through the melting plastic, the fire can become intense and almost impossible to extinguish until the power is turned off at the pole.  This is true of any digital meter – whether radio-on, radio-off, or the new so-called ‘analog-type’, and regardless of cost or brand. These things are made largely of combustible plastic which will melt/ burn when it overheats. Please note that analog meters, made of glass and steel, don’t burn – you couldn’t ignite one if you tried.

 

  1.  Proper engineering practice does not appear to have been followed during the smart meter rollout.

 

  • As in the Saskatchewan report, rather than changing the entire system there should have been a stepped procurement .

 

  • Mast, meter base, meter, and customer’s wiring should have been considered as an integrated system.  For example, enclosures should have been designed/tested/certified to prevent fire, and, when one occurs, to prevent it from spreading to the house.

 

  1. 3. A culture of public safety is lacking. (similar to Saskatchewan report)  There seems to be an assumption that someone someplace must have tested these things, but no one seems to have checked to find out if this really was done by an independent, qualified person.

 

  • Lack of professional engineering involvement and sign-off on safety – as required in the absence of CSA certification. In BC the BC Safety Standards Act  ( 21-4) requires that if equipment is not CSA approved, it must be certified safe by a professional engineer certified in BC. This has not happened.

 

  • Smart meter companies and utilities accept the certification by ANSI and IEEE, both of which are industry driven. They also assure safety based on certification by Measurements Canada which, in fact, certifies accuracy only.

 

  • The same Sensus meter that failed and caused fires in Saskatchewan later was certified by UL. This puts into question the adequacy of the certification – a certified meter failed and burned.  The standards for certifying electricity meters need to be updated to ensure the safety of digital meters

 

  1. Some reasons digital meters can catch fire:  (Note – meters’ internal operating   temperatures can be high to start with; eg. – the load current gets near 200 amps and the disconnect switch gets hot because it’s under-designed.)

 

  • Heating  from arcing occurs possibly because contacts damaged during installation and/or because of exchanges being made without the power turned off (a practice which contravenes the meter base’s CSA certification)

 

  • In BC and elsewhere in No. America, unqualified installers, often people straight off the street with just a few hours of training, are allowed to exchange meters, something normally done by a highly trained and qualified person. These people are paid on a quota basis, rushing a job that they are not qualified to do, leaving behind a trail of damaged meters and bases.

 

  • Heating can occur from over-voltages, the sun beaming on the meter casing, and/or steam created when moisture finds its way into the meter enclosure (e.g. condensation, rain) and causes short-circuiting. (Note: maintaining the integrity of the seal on the service mas is the customer’s responsibility. How many customers know this?)

 

 

  • Some meters, e.g. ITRON, contain Lithium-metal batteries and electrolytic capacitors that explode when overheated, as from the sun, exposed to moisture such as condensation, and/or stressed by over-voltages or reverse current. Even if the fire didn’t start at the meter, once the meter heats, the battery will get hot and explode – and the fire can become much larger quickly.

 

  • A component of vital importance to smart meter safety is the remote disconnect switch.  In response to commands from the distant utility it can be used to turn a customer’s power on and off.  In response to signals from temperature and smoke sensors in the meter enclosure – signals indicating the meter is, or might soon be, on fire – it is meant to open, thereby isolating the meter from the 240 VAC grid to prevent a fire from starting or intensifying, and as well to protect firefighters and others from electrical shock as they attempt to put out the fire.  When used for any of these on/off functions a malfunctioning switch can result in arcing, which (per earlier) can start a fire and/or cause an existing fire to intensify.  In light of the electro-mechanical complexity of the switch – relying as it does on wireless signals coming from afar over a mesh network (and thus subject to transmission errors), and as well on sensors and actuating circuitry which may or may not be functioning properly in the presence of high voltage, heat, water, fire, or other damage – the reliability of this switch is dubious.  It shows no signs of CSA certification, and no documentation has been provided by BC Hydro or Itron showing certification and proof of adequate testing under field conditions to Canadian Standards.  Nor has, despite requests, BC Hydro provided proof of sign-off on safety of the switch (or the meter either for that matter) by a Professional Engineer, as is required by BC Safety Standards Electrical Safety Regulation 21-(4).  Aside from its potential fire-starting capability, the switch is critical from the safety point of view because if it fails to operate properly the disconnect function will not be accomplished and the intended safety functionality will not be assured.

 

  • The casing and many components are made of combustible plastic that can melt and burn when overheated. As said earlier, analogs are made of metal and glass and would not burn if you tried.

 

  • Digital and smart meters are being put into a base that was designed to be used in conjunction with an incombustible analog meter. No safety testing has been done to ensure compatibility. In a lawsuit in Texas, in testimony given by experienced utility linesmen, it was said that ITRON meters’ blades were thinner than analog blades, leaving a gap which resulted in arcing and failures. http://www.stopsmartmetersbc.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Reed_Answering_Brief-1.pdf page 8

 

 

 

  1.  Other safety hazards:

 

  • Disconnect switch reliability is questionable.  It may arc generating heat, may not operate as expected putting fire-fighting personnel at risk. (as explained earlier) This was determined to be the cause of many fires in Florida and Saskatchewan.

 

  • There are reports of interference with AFCI and GFCI devices and smoke detectors

 

  • Many meter bases were not designed/tested/CSA-certified for combustible meters (to contain an electronic meter fire).   The meter bases were certified by CSA in conjunction with an analog meter. These meter bases were never certified to connect to a combustible digital meter.  Putting a combustible meter into a base certified to hold a non-combustible  meter annuls the certification.

 

  • If a digital meter catches fire there’s a good chance someone passing by will notice the fire and try to put it out with a garden hose, for example.  With the 240 VAC current flowing into the meter area directly from the grid there’s a chance the well-intended passer-by could suffer electrical injury.

 

  • Smart meters are being installed with no regard to its proximity to flammable objects such as propane tanks, gas lines, paints, etc in garages, or the wood/vinyl siding of a building..

 

  • There have been several incidents of smart meters burning, exploding or being blown off homes when there is a power surge.  I have not been able to find an incident where this occurred with an analog meter.

 

 

 

  1. General concerns ;

 

  • In both British Columbia and Quebec, smart meters are being removed from fire scenes by utility companies before fire inspectors have been able to complete their jobs. In BC, BC Hydro has stated that it does not inspect “failed” meters but rather immediately returns them to ITRON for replacement. There is no opportunity for an independent examination to determine the actual cause of these failures.

 

  • Because meters are largely composed of plastic, often there is nothing left of the meter to investigate.

 

  • There seems to be a consistent corporate message that utility employees are to tell customers that any problem, whether it’s damaged appliances or a fire, was due to the meter base, not the smart meter. Just as Mrs. Onyskiw was told by Mr. Irwin as he removed the burned smart meter from the side of her home, there would an investigation, but the meter was not the problem. This also was the policy of employees of Oncor and Centerpoint in Texas, as confirmed by testimony. (http://www.stopsmartmetersbc.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Reed_Answering_Brief-1.pdf page 10)

 

  • Smart meter failures (overheating and melting) and fires are not being tracked. As far as I have been able to learn, fire commissioners do not have codes specific to smart meters so any fire that is reported will be attributed to failed electrical distribution equipment or otherwise coded as an electrical fire.

 

 

Sensus meters have caused fires and have been recalled in Pennsylvania (Peco), Florida (Lakeland), Oregon (Portland), Saskatchewan, and now in Ontario. For some reason Sensus meter fires get more publicity than do fires involving the other brands, but that does not mean others are safe. In Texas, palettes of ITRON and Landis Gyr meters had failed, and the linesmen knew of many fires.

 

All of these makes of meters have been installed in Ontario and I’m sure that investigation would show that they have caused damage and put lives at risk. They, too, should be inspected and tested by an agency independent of corporate influence.

 

I hope you will find this information useful. If you have any questions, please let me know.

 

Sincerely,

Sharon Noble

 

,

 

Sharon Noble

Director, Coalition to Stop Smart Meters

 

“We will never have a perfect world, but it’s not romantic or naïve to work toward a better one.”

 

Steven Pinker (b. 1954), Award-winning, Canadian-born U.S. Intellectual and Scientist (Cognitive Psychology);

 

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