We are hearing a lot of reports of smart meter caused fires in other states and in Canada and Australia. In many of these places the frequency of fires has been high enough that installation programs were halted for months while a new meter manufacturer was hired or installation procedures revised. Here in Michigan DTE has installed over 2 million Itron smart meters and Consumers Energy has installed nearly a million Itron meters. The number of fires caused by these Itron meters here in our own state has not been large relative to the total number of installations.
All that said, there is still a very real concern. Why are there so many reports of fires nationwide? Do the new meters cram too much electronic circuitry into too small a space? There are, after all, printed circuit boards and solder connections jammed into a space which, up until now, held only simple mechanical components!
Keep in mind that the main power conductors for the house run through this same small space AND THAT THERE IS NO FUSE OR CIRCUIT BREAKER TO PROVIDE ANY PROTECTION IN THE EVENT A SHORT OCCURS INSIDE THE NEW METER! Link to a shocking video from Australia that shows what can happen!
The analog meter which has been replaced by this new meter was a very simple device, mechanical in nature and containing no electronic circuits. Moreover the design and manufacture of the analog meter has been standardized over decades of experience.
The new meters are being rushed into production, and the installations rushed as well, in order to qualify for federal stimulus dollars. Most installations are being performed, not by longstanding employees of the utility who have performed meter installs for years, but by contract people who have received at best minimal training.
An “Informal Complaint” to the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission (author unknown) which details problems with installers not being professionally trained and FCC violations with the co-locating of two antennas within each meter and the co-location of multiple meters in apartment buildings. Click here for Complaint.
There is nothing hypothetical about the fire risk. An alarming number of fires have actually happened in California where these meters have been in place for up to 3 years. Here is link to a story about meter caused fires.
July 5th, 2012 – Added: Another possible cause of fires is the ever increasing electrical load on house wiring caused by high frequency harmonics generated by modern electronic devices. We are not yet persuaded that the smart meter would add significantly to that load in terms of heating the home wiring, but some experts have speculated on that possibility. Click here for Sage Associates report on this.
August 3rd – Added – A home in British Columbia was destroyed the day after a smart meter was installed by BC Hydro. The fire department concluded that the cause of the fire was a crack in the meter base. The smart meter installer had been observed to have pounded repeatedly to force the smart meter into its socket. The utility accepts no responsibility for the fire. See full story at Vancouver Sun. See full story at Vancouver Sun. Click here.
November 8th, 2014 – Added – The CEO of SaskPower forced to resign in wake of disastrous run of smart meter fires. Earlier the entire smart meter program was stopped and the utility ordered to remove all smart meters.