The electro-magnetic radiation given off by smart meters has become a health concern for many, but, millions of people worldwide whose homes have been outfitted with these devices must also be aware of the dangers of overheating and malfunction. Recently, there have been an extraordinary number of smart meter-related fires reported all over the North America:
- September 2014 – “The Reno and Sparks [Nevada] fire chiefs are asking the Public Utilities Commission to investigate the safety of smart meters installed by NV Energy on homes throughout the state in the wake of a troubling spate of blazes they believe are associated with the meters, including one recent fire that killed a 61-year-old woman.” (Source)
- August 2014 – Lakeland Electric in Florida is replacing over 10,000 residential meters due to danger of overheating, with six meters having already caught on fire during 2014. (Source)
- July 2014 – Portland General Electric is replacing 70,000 smart meters due to three smart meter fires reported resulting in property damage. (Source)
- July 2014 – SaskPower, a utility in Saskatchewan, Canada, is in the midst of removing all smart meters installed through the province, costing it around $15 million, due to six fires tied to meters during a two month period. (Source)
- July 2010 – A smart meter that caught on fire in Vacaville, California, killed Larry Nikkel after flames consumed his home. (Source)
- 2012 – PECO Energy in Philadelphia replaced all its Sensus smart meters after several of them overheated and caught fire, two of them resulting in serious house fires. (Source) Subsequently in February 2014, outfitted with the replacement Landis+Gyr smart meter, an apartment complex caught on fire in Bensalem, Pennsylvania displacing 14 families and resulting in damage to nearly 20 apartments, 5 with significant smoke damage. One firefighter was also injured. (Source) See a video of this fire below.
This list will go on. Smart meters can start fires – there’s no doubt about that – for several reasons: malfunction due to water exposure, meter enclosure overheating, lightening damage, electrical component failures and more. Replacing one brand of smart meter with another isn’t always the solution, as we can see in the case of PECO, although it seems to be what most power companies are doing. Hats off to the Saskatchewan provincial government which seems to have the right idea with a complete uninstall initiative:
“…insisting that eight meters out of 105,000 catching fire (a 99.992-per-cent success rate, according to SaskPower) was simply unacceptable. Setting aside the moral issue of endangering human lives, the liability costs of house fires could be massive. It would have been far more cynical to have just kept installing smart meters in the hope that nothing would happen.” ~ Saskatchewan provincial government (Source)
What do the manufacturers have to say. Sensus released a press announcement that clearly points the finger at the electric company:
To date, data received from seven recent issues in an installed base of 175,000 meters points to contributing, long-standing industry issues: one was caused by an issue with a meter base attached to a home, three were caused by utility over voltage, two were caused by water intrusion through the meter base and one remains under investigation.
Given that there are more than 40 million meters deployed to date in North America, the failure rates seen in the industry are very low.
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