Segment #11 – Standards and Meter Compatibility (cont’d) – Specific Safety Standards for Meters

RESPONSE TO “BCUC’s Staff Report on Smart Meter Fire Safety Concerns

KEY:  Highlighted text is from Sharon Noble  Non-highlighted text is the draft report as written by BCUC staff.

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Segment #11

In the BCUC’s draft report below, it is acknowledged that ITRON meters do not have to be certified safe by CSA because they belong to BC Hydro and FortisBC. Any other electrical appliance or device used in homes must.

Still no response to my official complaint with evidence that I submitted July 16, 2015. They must be pushed to do their job which is to ensure our safety.

Sharon Noble

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Standards and Meter Compatibility  (continued)

Concerns have been raised that existing meter bases were not designed for modern electric “smart” meters.   The question of compatibility is applicable to manufacturers of both meter sockets and electric meters regardless of the type of meter. For example, existing meters that no longer meet accuracy testing are typically replaced by newer digital or smart meters as the existing vintage may no longer be supported by the manufacturer or procured by the utility. Standards are developed and maintained for this purpose so that for example the receptacle for your home wall outlet will be compatible with the devices you purchase to plug into the outlet now and many years from now until an entirely new standard is created. In the case of electrical meters, there are a number of standards used in North America specific to meter sockets and meters. Some standards cover the performance and accuracy of meters and others cover the physical aspects.

Standard making bodies involved in meter socket and meter standards in North America include the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the Canadian Standards Association (CSA). Other testing and certification bodies represent insurers such as Underwriters Laboratory (UL) or Factory Mutual (FM) may have both US and Canadian standard versions (UL and ULC).  (continued)

Since the electric meter is the property of the utility and “public utilities” are exempt from the Electrical Safety Regulation, certification marks on the meter are not a requirement in BC. This was explored to some degree in the FortisBC AMI hearing.9   In response to an information request FortisBC stated that CSA CAN3-17-M84 (R2008) is equivalent to Measurement Canada specification LMB-EG-07 and that its electric meters including Itron’s meters are required to meet LMG-EG-07.10   A review of both standards confirms similarity in the measurement and accuracy specifications between LMB-EG-07 and CAN3-17- M84 and that LMB-EG-07 refers to CSA C17, however not all the physical specifications of CSA C17 are provided in LMB-EG-07.  

  • Measurement Canada, and any similar standards, test for accuracy only. The complaint lodged did not questioned ITRON’s meters’ accuracy. These standards do not test for safety.

Comment: Note that the above statement demonstrates that a Canadian Federal Statute requires compliance and verification through testing of the accuracy of the revenue measuring devices (meters). There is no ambiguity for the application of this specific Federal Measurement Standard to energy meters as there is with the CSA Standards and with BC Utilities within Provincial jurisdiction as they are, or are not applied to the meters.

In the FBC hearing, FBC provided a table of all the standards that the ITRON OpenWay CENTRON II meters that it would be purchasing and installing would comply with.

Comment: NOTE: This “would comply with” is a common phrase used by Manufacturers to confuse users and does not prove that Certification has been, or will be completed. The statement should read “will be Certified by.. “ and that Certification can be verified by an independent third party.  

This table was provided as Table IR2 Q83.4 – Applicable Meter Standards. This table included the ANSI C12.10 standard11   for physical aspects among other US and International based standards (ANSI, IEEE, IEC, NEMA) and Canadian standards.

Comment: Again, to which Canadian Standards will the devices be Certified, and documentation supplied to prove that?

In an update provided on January 13, 2016 to its original response, FortisBC stated that the advanced meters it has installed have been designed and manufactured to conform with ANSI 12.1 (2008), ANSI C12.10 (2011) and CSA CAN3 C17 M84 (2014). ).

9 The BCUC conducted a detailed review and hearing on the application by FBC to install Advanced Meters, the Clean Energy Act exempts the Smart Metering Program from sections 45-47 and 71 of the Utilities Commission Act.

10 FortisBC Inc Application for CPCN for the Advanced Metering Infrastructure Project, BCUC IR2 83.2

11 ANSI C12.10-2004 Physical Aspects of Watthour Meters

This standard covers the physical aspects of both detachable and bottom-connected watthour meters and associated registers. These include ratings, internal wiring arrangements, pertinent dimensions, markings, and other general specifications. Refer to the latest version of ANSI C12.1 and ANSI C12.20 for performance requirements.

  • Did ITRON meters in Texas that burned and failed by the palette-load meet ANSI standards? We must assume they did since ITRON installed them, and still they failed demonstrating that UL and ANSI standards are inadequate.

This doesn’t give any assurance that digital electronic meters are safe. Comment: Once again what are missing are the critical words: To which Canadian Standards will the devices be Certified, and the documentation supplied by the Utility to the BCUC to prove it? As discovered in Saskatchewan, some of the meters meeting the Standards failed and did not perform adequately

Above it is stated these standards are “common” and would be considered basic for all smart meters, including those in Texas  where they have failed and burned in large numbers.

  • Who has confirmed that these standards are adequate to ensure safety?
  • Why are BC Hydro and FortisBC refusing to have CSA or an independent professional electrical engineer licensed in BC certify these meters if they believe they are safe?

Specific Safety Standards for Meters

Through this investigation and discussions with the Fire Commissioner and BC Safety Authority the BCUC staff was made aware that Underwriters Laboratory (UL) has developed a meter safety standard (UL 2735 – October 6, 2014 edition) and that the Canadian version (ULC) is in development and expected to be  published in mid-2016.

Of what significance is this to the meters already installed on homes? Shouldn’t electrical devices that are put on homes have been certified before installation?

Why does UL require a Canadian version of its meter standard 2735?  Will independent testing confirm that this standard is adequate in all regards?

Comment: As stated earlier, the smart meters in Saskatchewan were tested to UL 2735 and still failed in service due to, among other factors, moisture ingress. Quote:  “Any new smart meter designed for SaskPower’s use must meet more stringent requirements than currently exist. These requirements, as well as current industry standards, will be subject to independent verification prior to acceptance or installation by SaskPower.
SaskPower continues to remove all remaining smart meters in the province with a deadline for completion of March 15, 2015.” Unquote