Nine of Ontario’s local electrical utilities are still scrambling to determine if they’ve given customers the same model of smart meter linked to fires in Saskatchewan.
More than a week after SaskPower said it will remove those meters from homes and businesses following eight unexplained minor fires in Saskatchewan, the Ontario Energy Board said Friday that 30 of this province’s 77 utilities use meters by the same manufacturer — U.S.-based Sensus Corp.
“Of the 30, 21 have reported none of their meters are the same model as used in Saskatchewan,” said Karen Cormier of the board, which along with the Ministry of Energy is under fire for taking too long to provide answers.
A list of utilities was not available.
Almost five million Ontario homes and businesses have smart meters, which measure electricity use, from various manufacturers.
“We began reaching out to utilities last week . . . requesting information about the particular meter they are using,” Cormier added.
Opposition parties were aghast at the length of time it has taken the board, Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli’s office and local utilities to get details consumers need to determine if their homes and families could be at risk.
“Their job is to protect consumers,” said Progressive Conservative energy critic John Yakabuski. “Do we have to wait until there is a fire?”
New Democrat MPP Liza Gretzky (Windsor West) said she’s had calls from people who check their meters and see the Sensus label on them.
“I’m not trying to cause mass hysteria but . . . my concern is, could it be a particular part that’s starting the problems and it’s used in more than one model?”
The minister’s office and the board maintain no safety issues have been reported with Sensus meters, but the Ontario Fire Marshal’s office has released statistics saying smart meters in general have been involved in at least 23 incidents since 2011, including 13 small fires.
Yakabuski (Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke) said it’s “unacceptable” for the board and minister’s office to be taking a wait-and-see approach on this issue.
“That’s like saying we’re not going to put a stop sign on a corner because we haven’t had a car accident yet,” he told the Star.
Sensus has blamed “external factors” such as power surges and holes in smart meter boxes for the minor fires in Saskatchewan.
In the GTA, Toronto Hydro has said it is not affected by the Sensus situation and PowerStream does use the company’s meters but has not reported fire problems.