2017-02-21 Industry document confirms that smeters have many problems that are not being addressed

[Andrea Horwath – ANSI C12.1 – Arcing – BC Hydro – Bills – Brain Tumors Risk Reports – Cell Phones Studies – Children – Consumer Affairs – Data – Design Flaws – Fires – Health – Hot Sockets – Hydro One Privatization – Itron – Lord Roberts School Annex – Parks – Plastic Covers – Power Surges – Privacy Commissioner – Remote Disconnect Switch – Samsung Smart TVs – Schools – Sensus Report re Electricity Meter Safety, Accuracy and Performance Testing – Subcontractors – Tara Hill – UL 2735 – Underground Substations – Warning Labels | Vancouver, BC – Ontario – Cleveland, Ohio, USA] & (video)

1) Sensus, a leading smeter company, has written a document in support of their new technology.  It is amazing in that many admissions are made about design flaws and testing limits which confirm many of the charges I’ve been making about ITRON meters being a fire hazard.  I have read through it once and made some notes which are below in “Letters”, among which includes the acknowledgement that safety is not the most important consideration – accuracy is.  The entire document is available at:

 

All of this info is known by the industry, so why are we having to fight to have these fire hazards removed from our homes? Who is being guilty of harmful negligence?

2) In Ohio, water smeters have led to many people seeing huge increases in bills, and the concern is that these smeters could be inaccurate. ITRON says that bad installation is a major problem that could lead to errors regardless of the type of meter (e.g. water, electricity or gas) but denies this happens often, despite 72,000 complaints in Cleveland alone. As it did in BC, ITRON subcontracted meter installations – and most likely hired inexperienced people and gave inadequate training before turning them loose.

3) An article re. Samsung “smart” TVs which, I bet, apply to other brands as well. Shouldn’t the federal Privacy Commissioner or Consumer Affairs be concerned about this?

Samsung has confirmed that its “smart TV” sets are listening to customers’ every word, and the company is warning customers not to speak about personal information while near the TV sets

The company revealed that the voice activation feature on its smart TVs will capture all nearby conversations.  The TV sets can share the information, including sensitive data, with Samsung as well as third-party services.”

http://theweek.com/speedreads/538379/samsung-warns-customers-not-discuss-personal-information-front-smart-tvs

4) In Ontario, as people are seeing rates continue to climb to the point where many cannot pay for electricity, the government continues to work toward privatizing Hydro One. This would leave the people with the huge debts that have been incurred while giving them no protection from a corporate monopoly. Many believe BC Liberals are planning the same for us.

“NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said she will also use the session to continue pressuring the government to halt the sell-off of Hydro One shares.“The Liberals are still driving this province in the wrong direction,” she said. “The premier is still selling off Hydro One and selling out control over our hydro assets.”

http://www.citynews.ca/2017/02/20/ontario-legislature-resumes-tuesday-focus-hydro/

5) More concerns raised about having a BC Hydro substation below schools, but none are about health. Are these being ignored by the media or is the public that ill-informed?

“The plan was pitched by BC Hydro in January and the deal is to be voted on next month by the Vancouver School and Park Board.

Some parents say that’s not enough time to decide on a disruptive project that would force their kids to move schools during construction of the substation.

They also say they want a guarantee that the money BC Hydro is offering the school board will definitely build two new schools.

“We’re very cautious and skeptical of how fast and rushed the process seems.” said Tara Hill, a mother of two young children, one of whom attends kindergarten at Lord Roberts School Annex.”

 

(click on photo to enlarge)

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/bc-hydro-substation-school-lord-roberts-1.3991293

6) A recent report confirms, once again, that long-term phone use dramatically increases the risk of brain cancer and calls for the implementation of precautionary measures. Why can’t we demand labels with warnings be put on cellular phones? The report also confirms that funding of studies is influential – with industry-funded studies showing little or no increase while independent studies show on average about 33% increase.

“In our review of the literature and meta-analysis of case–control studies, we found evidence linking mobile phone use and risk of brain tumours especially in long-term users (greater than 10 years). We also found a significantly positive correlation between study quality and outcome in the form of risk of brain tumour associated with use of mobile phones. Higher quality studies show a statistically significant association between mobile phone use and risk of brain tumour. Even the source of funding was found to affect the quality of results produced by the studies. As mobile phone use certainly continues, our findings are pertinent to warrant application of precautionary measures aimed at reducing its adverse effects.”

http://www.saferemr.com/2017/02/long-term-cell-phone-use-increases.html

Letters:

Sharon Noble’s Comments on
Modern Electricity Meter Safety Accuracy and Performance Testing by EnerNex for Sensus – August 17, 2016:
https://tinyurl.com/jlmqc7c

1)    “As modern metering technology is deployed, and as utilities encounter new issues with installations, there is a need to expand the testing. There are two motivating factors. The first is due to evolving meter types. Modern electricity meters exhibit different operational and failure modes than the electromechanical meters they replace. The second motivating factor is the state of the socket at the time of replacement. Socket deterioration after decades of operation is a common, though often overlooked, contributor to meter performance issues.”

What about making sure the meter is compatible with the socket and that it fits properly?

2)    “Since the type tests prioritize accuracy, meter failure modes are a secondary focus. Presumably, customers are not at risk since they are protected by their service panel equipment. Therefore, a meter can fail within some parameters, but if it continues to function across a pre-determined operating range and no extra energy is misattributed as customer consumption, that meter is still considered accurate.”

Safety is the secondary focus, with accuracy being paramount??   What an admission.

3)    “When meters were constructed from predominantly metal parts and a glass cover, there were a few well-known failure modes that might lead to unsafe conditions. Modern meters are essentially computers with more electronics, more plastic parts (including the cover), and different failure modes that are still being uncovered.

I’m sure there have been fires caused or promoted by analog meters, but I have asked several utilities, fire departments and fire commissioners to give me an example – and not one has.

4)    “Despite this, the standards are continually revised to accommodate expert contributions and changing operational conditions that inform and help facilitate manufacturing of products that are as safe as possible. Examples of safety-oriented tests include impulse voltage testing, or lightning strike simulation. Devices need to withstand this phenomenon without exhibiting an undesirable failure mode such as melting or igniting the electronics and/or meter housing. Ideally, the device withstands the extremes of the test and continues to operate.”

The testing must not have been done well. How many meters must explode and burn when there is a power surge before the industry acknowledges that there is a big problem here?

5)    “As previously mentioned, there is a significant potential safety risk posed by the extended time lapse since the initial installation of any meter/socket system. When meters are replaced, it is common to find that those meter sockets require maintenance. Yet socket maintenance is not straightforward. Since the socket is technically owned by the customer, the customer is responsible for maintaining it. Yet the socket cannot be maintained by the customer without removing the meter, which is illegal. Therefore, most sockets are not examined after the initial installation until the utility-owned meter is exchanged.

Assuming the utility has deemed it necessary to exchange a meter, it is rare that the customer/socket owner is even present during this swap, much less have the skills required to perform any needed maintenance on the socket. Simple maintenance can be done by utility personnel or contractors, while full socket replacements usually require a licensed electrician.

This scenario illustrates the unrealistic expectations of the end consumer,…

OUR unrealistic expectations that our meters and bases should be safe???

6)    “In May 2013, Underwriters Laboratories (UL) developed and published UL 2735, an electricity meter safety standard. As a test suite, the standard focuses on safety aspects of the meter and adds to the rigorous tests of ANSI C12.1. Some of the UL tests stress the meter beyond the ANSI C12.1 tests, and also include flammability, shock, impact, and drop tests.”

But no tests of vital components such as the remote disconnect switch which has been responsible for many fires. And if the testing is so good, why did it pass meters that had already caused fires?

7)    “These design elements are steps in the right direction of preemptive detection, but there are still concerns to be addressed. The fundamental issue of determining socket viability remains elusive. Vendors, utilities, testing organizations, and consultants across the AMI industry have spent years trying to pinpoint whether a meter socket is good or should be replaced, or if that socket can accept a smart meter replacement.”

8)    Overtemperature is usually due to a high customer load being served, meaning a higher current being drawn through the meter, and a higher internal temperature under the meter cover. Another source of high temperatures is a poor fit at the interface between the meter and socket. This causes minor arcing over the minute air gap and a higher temperature under the meter cover.”

“Minor arcing” can cause fires, as can high temperature under the plastic cover.

9)    “Hundreds of potentially dangerous hot socket events have been stopped with this dual-sensor technology. One Midwest utility with an existing aging meter population provided the new technology to its entire meter population. Over six months, at least 10% of the meters opened their service switches due to the temperatures in the socket exceeding the configured threshold.”

Sensus is trying to sell its new technology, but this info seems to say that 10% of smeters at one utility overheated and could have caused a fire if not for the new technology.

10) “Short-term events are usually related to conditions such as lightning strikes, a blown transformer, or a higher-voltage transmission line falling on a lower-voltage distribution line. These faults cause disturbances that can cause a meter fault, or in extreme conditions, may cause a meter to dislodge from the socket, smoke, melt, or burn. There are components to protect the meter and customer from some events, but extreme events could exceed the specification of the meter and those protection components may be consumed during an event, leaving no protection. In addition, customer-oriented overvoltage protective equipment is not part of typical installations.”

Equipment to protect the customer’s meter from exploding or burning due to a power surge is not provided by the utility, and power surges have occurred and will continue to cause smeters to “cause disturbances”.

“These short-term overvoltage events create conditions that are neither wholly contained in the ANSI nor the UL specifications.”

Why not? These events are not uncommon and will result in fires with these smeters. Power surges would not cause analogs to burn and melt.

11) “Today’s electricity meter testing and standards are robust. ANSI and UL certifications are comprehensive and their methodologies are iterative. Yet it takes time to prioritize and incorporate new tests that keep pace with current technologies. Additional testing can help fill those interim gaps. Improved consumer safety and confidence, device performance, and overall value are the key benefits of additional testing.

Customer expectations do not necessarily adhere to the timelines required to update the standards.

Again our expectations are just too high.  It takes time to make sure the meters are safe so we just have to suck it up.

12)  “Additional testing increases value since the results help to avoid failures that could compromise customer safety. While it’s difficult to argue against the value of safety, we must still weigh the costs of additional testing. Typically the cost of testing is spread over a number of devices, and the net value of testing outweighs those costs for both utilities and end customers.”

Risk management – just like Health Canada follows. The costs of testing to make sure the meter is safe is expensive – maybe it’s cheaper to burn a few homes and pay the lawsuits.

Sharon Noble
Director, Coalition to Stop Smart Meters“A politician thinks of the next election. A leader thinks of the next generation.”
~ Bernie Sanders