Energy Efficiency

Investigation of Smart Meter Failures and Fires Points to External Factors

Sensus, Inc. is conducting utility site inspections and performing extensive lab testing to determine the root cause of recent smart meter incidents. Contributing external factors such as water intrusion due to holes in meter boxes, hot socket conditions in the meter box and over voltage in the distribution system have been identified by the Sensus investigation. This investigation resulted from eight smart meter-related failures reported by SaskPower (fires contained to the meters) in the past two months. The provincial government in Canada has instructed SaskPower to remove all installed Sensus smart meters because of safety concerns. The province-wide installations were put on hold on July 12, and SaskPower initiated its own investigation into the cause of the malfunctions.

In the course of Sensus' investigation, product design engineers and quality teams are working closely with customers to understand the specific events that led to recent issues that impacted a small number of iConA Generation 3 2S remote disconnect meters. 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.

“Safety is our number one priority and all Sensus meters go through rigorous testing and meet or exceed industry safety standards,” said Sensus President Randy Bays. “I have been personally involved with our customers and Sensus quality and engineering teams as we work to collect fact-based and data-driven information on these specific incidents.”

"Sensus underscores the critical importance of careful meter installation procedures, including the examination of meter boxes and wiring at installation, training of meter installers and the need to have rapid remedial action when field problems are observed," Bays continued.

“Our experience has shown that these issues are systemic in the industry and we are committed to delivering solutions that help our customers to overcome these challenges. I have complete confidence in the employees and technology that carry the Sensus name,” said Bays. “We are committed to providing safe products through engineering excellence and testing to industry standards.”

All manufactured meters are subject to ANSI standards including: ANSI C12.1-2008, Code for Electricity Metering and ANSI C12.20-2010, American National Standard for Electricity Meters 0.2 and 0.5 Accuracy Classes. 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. Sensus remains focused on working with utilities to help them understand and address external issues that impact meter deployments.

Sensus, Inc.
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