ANTONELLA ARTUSO, QUEEN’S PARK BUREAU CHIEF
Jan 22, 2015
, Last Updated: 5:20 PM ET
TORONTO – Several thousand smart meters have been ordered removed from Ontario properties over concerns they could start fires.
David Collie, president and CEO of the Electrical Safety Authority (ESA), said the watchdog’s experts found similarities between the structure of 5,400 Sensus Generation 3.2 remote disconnect meters installed in Ontario and a similar model used in Saskatchewan that was implicated in fires.
Collie said there have been no serious cases reported in Ontario, and the risk of fire is considered very low, but one meter was found to have failed.
“We watched these incidents very carefully that were taking place in Saskatchewan,” Collie said Thursday. “When the engineer report came out, we went and did our own homework and due diligence here in Ontario and determined that this could happen here.”
The ESA listed 11 local distribution companies (LDCs) that have installed the devices: Bluewater Power Distribution, Waterloo North Hydro, Kitchener-Wilmot Hydro, EnWin Utilities, Greater Sudbury Hydro, Brant County Power, Lakefront Utilities, Canadian Niagara Power, Norfolk Power Distribution, Oakville Hydro, and Algoma Power.
If moisture or another contaminant comes into contact with the meters, there could be arcing within the components, potentially starting a fire.
One LDC turned in a meter with evidence of arcing but the ESA refused to identify its location.
Each LDC will send out authorized personnel to remove the problematic meters — a task homeowners should not attempt themselves, the ESA says.
LDCs have until March 31 to remove the meters.
There are 4.8 million smart meters installed in Ontario under orders of the Liberal government to allow for time-of-use electricity pricing, but the safety issue only concerns one particular type of unit used sparingly in the province.