Segment #18 – Observations

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.


Segment #18

Below, BCUC makes assertions with no evidence to back them up.  They say that the number of incidents is about the same with smeters as they were with analogs. How do they know? No one is tracking and I don’t know if they tracked analog fires. I have asked experts about fires caused by analogs and all have told me that fires caused by analogs are very rare because analogs do not run on electricity and they are made of non combustible material – glass and metal.  We deserve evidence if we are to believe $$meters are as safe as analogs.

Sharon Noble

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The evidence reviewed indicates the safety hazard associated with watthour meters has not materially increased with the introduction of smart meters in BC as further detailed below:

  • Are there credible statistics on the number of fires attributed to analog meters over the 5-10 years prior to the smart meter installations?
  • What evidence was used to make this assertion?

Comment: BCUC repeats several assertions in this Report based on a small population of data points. When an inadequate and statistically weak quantity of reliable data points are available, then it would be wise to state that, and not to make assertions based on an unrealistic data base.

1) Are smart meters compatible with the meter sockets into which they are plugged? Do smart meters have thinner blades than legacy meters?

The evidence reviewed suggests there are no issues with smart meter compatibility with the meter sockets.  Smart meters installed in BC were designed to a standard that considers compatibility to the meter socket standard.

  • What evidence was reviewed to reach this conclusion?
  • Who made this determination?  What were his qualifications?
  • What standards were used since these were not certified and such determinations are left up to Hydro?
  • Who has determined that the standards to which the meters were designed were adequate?

Comment: there is no documented Certification that the meters meet the Canadian Standard, and BC Hydro repeatedly states that they do not need to meet the Canadian Standards. BC Hydro should, in any event be able to demonstrate that their Quality Control and Quality Assurance procedures show that the meters do in fact have CSA documentation to that effect, and that the meters’ physical parameters consistently satisfy the Standards’ requirements and that the documentation has been verified by third-party engineers.

This standard specifies the thickness of the meter blades. If there was an issue with blade thickness or compatibility, it would be expected to affect all or a sizable portion of meters in a manufacturing lot and would result in a cluster of incidents in location or time. The incidents investigated appear randomly dispersed in time and location.

  • There were incidents but without tracking how can the determination be made that they are random?