Segment #8 – Meter Safety Jurisdiction (cont’d) – Utilities (cont’d)

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 #8

BCUC admits below  that, under the BC Utilities Commission Act, it is responsible for public safety and oversight of equipment. Also, it says it must keep itself informed. But what did BCUC do until, after attempts, it finally agreed to look at evidence of $$smeter fires? Nothing. And still it’s done nothing. I have yet to receive a final response to my complaint which was made a year ago.

Sharon Noble

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Utilities  (continued)

The utilities install and own the meters which are inserted into the meter socket of residential properties. Utilities and their distribution equipment including meters are exempt from the Electrical Safety Regulation.   However, utilities are not exempt from the Safety Standards Act and thus “must not remove, disturb or interfere with anything in, on or about the place” were an incident resulting in damage to property has occurred as a result of a meter socket (or other regulated equipment) until the BC Safety Authority has completed its investigation.

  • BC Hydro is not informing BCSA when incidents occur. Repairs are done and BCSA has no opportunity to investigate.   Example: Port Hardy, July 10, 2012, smart meter burned, fire extinguished without fire dept. arriving. Hydro attended, replaced smart meter. Trouble report stated “probable meter base. Mechanical, electrical failure/malfunction.” No lab report available. BCSA was never informed.
  • In some instances when a fire chief has confronted BC Hydro and asked about the meter being taken, BC Hydro has said it is taking the meter to its lab for investigation. Yet Power Tech, BC Hydro’ lab, has never seen a smart meter.  BC Hydro told me that they never inspect a failed or burned meter but rather immediately send it to ITRON for replacement under the warranty.   Example:  Vernon fire Aug. 13, 2013, appeared to be electrical. BC Hydro removed the meter and when asked by fire chief, he was told that the meter needed to be inspected at Hydro’s lab. Power Tech had no report.
  • Who is holding BC Hydro responsible for following regulations if BCUC has been told to not get involved with the smart meter program?

Comment: In cases where BC Hydro has removed devices after an incident, what steps do the BCUC intend to take to address this apparent violation of the Safety Standards Act?

Please provide a clarification to explain to what specific parts of the Safety Standards Act legislation BC Hydro and FortisBC must comply, since the meters, according to BCUC, do not need to be certified to the BC Electrical Safety Regulation. Again the above is a confusing and misleading statement, since it does not address the specifics of the Utilities’ legal responsibility under the Safety Standards Act for these incidents initiated by the Utilities’ actions.

Comment: MISSING:
MUNICIPALITIES: “Municipalities that Administer the Electrical Safety Regulation
The BC Safety Authority oversees electrical safety throughout British Columbia, with the exception of the following municipalities:

City of Burnaby
City of North Vancouver
City of Surrey
City of Vancouver
City of Victoria
Corporation of the District of Maple Ridge
District of North Vancouver
Municipality of West Vancouver

7 An incident is defined in the Safety Standards Act as an event resulting from the use of a regulated product that causes or creates the risk of death, personal injury or damage to property.

The BCUC is mandated to provide general supervision of provincial public utilities including the oversight of equipment and public safety pursuant to the Utilities Commission Act.8   (emphasis added)

As part of its mandate the BCUC must make examinations and inquiries to keep itself informed. BCUC staff looked at available information both broadly (provincial statistics) and at individual incident investigation reports to assess smart meter safety in the province.

·        What individual incident reports had BCUC reviewed in advance of this recent complaint to assess smart meter safety in BC?

·        As shown, provincial statistics are not credible.  When did BCUC become aware that the provincial statistics are not credible?

Comment: Please expand upon how the BCUC initiates the “general supervision” and the “examinations and inquiries”. Does the BCUC respond only to complaints and to submissions from the Utilities, i.e., a passive approach, or does it independently initiate audits and quality control activities either at random or regularly in order to ensure compliance with the Regulations, i.e., an active approach?