A single item in tonight’s update because of its significance. A professional engineer is speaking out about some of the dangers associated with the smeters. In Quebec, this issue is being ignored, just as it is in BC. They are all hoping we will become frustrated and give up while our lives and property are at risk. Every home that has a smeter is at risk.
An engineer in Quebec sent me the following stream of emails he has written to the media and various agencies regarding smeter fires. He asked me to circulate this widely, both in Canada and the US, because he shares my/our concerns about having these fire hazards on our homes. Please share all or part with your MLAs, your fire departments, Prem. Horgan, BCUC, etc. We are not alone in this and neither is he.
COPY OF A LETTER TO A NEWSPAPER
REF: Burning Hydro Meters
Please watch only 30 seconds of https://youtu.be/Ah3nNo89-NU?t=130 .
As you can see, the plastic electricity meter quickly sets the house on fire — it’s almost as if someone had poured diesel fuel over it. And in the old quarters of some cities in Quebec there are still many electricity meters that are installed inside the houses.
Because they can burn and emit toxic and explosive gases, Hydro-Quebec’s next generation plastic meters are much more dangerous than the standard mechanical meters. In March, I wrote the attached letter to Eric Martel and the Board of Directors of Hydro-Quebec but the company replied with a form-letter (attached) that did not address any of my safety concerns. Instead, they included a Notice of Service Interruption and then came to cut the electric power cables to my home.
It is alleged that in Quebec there have already been several hundred meter box fires involving plastic electricity meters but Hydro-Quebec refuses to recall the meters.
And it goes without saying that none of us wants to wake up in a house that is burning as shown in the video above.
Please help by investigating the danger and publicizing the attached information. Over 35% of house and apartment fires are caused by electricity. We all need to aggressively persuade Hydro-Quebec to recall the unsafe plastic meters and to upgrade them with inexpensive active-safety technology before someone is injured or killed by them.
Evidence that the new plastic meters are a fire danger when installed in the old meter boxes is readily available. Hydro-Quebec has a record of all smart meter fires — regardless of how these fires were caused — in the past five years. It is a list that includes the burned-up/melted meters that the company allegedly rushes to remove before the fire department investigators can examine them. And they have a record of the addresses so that their data can be verified against fire department-, customer- and media-reported fires.
Hydro-Quebec also has a record of all mechanical meter fires (actual fires from any cause, and not just an overheating of the meter) in the five years before that. When both numbers are expressed as fires per million meters installed they are absolute proof that the smart meters are much more dangerous than the mechanical ones (which do not burn). In addition to the fires, the plastic meters give off toxic and explosive gases when they over-heat, while the metal ones do not.
The key issue here is the following: — If Hydro-Quebec is going to force us to accept meters that are a fire danger, then of course they will have to pay for the additional fire protection that our families will need to be just as safe as they were before. That includes paying for fire-safety upgrades to the meters or to the meter boxes, or moving the meters and boxes to a utility pole.
F. (Thomas) Tobber, P. Eng.
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COPY OF A LETTER TO THE ELECTRIC UTILITY SUPERVISORY BOARD
May 20, 2018
Mme. Diane Jean, Présidente
Régie de l’énergie
Tour de la Bourse
800 rue du Square Victoria
Request to review a Hydro-Québec complaint decision
Dear Mme. Jean,
It is a principle of Québec engineering law, confirmed by the Québec Appeals Court, that l‘ingénieur a l’obligation de relever et dénoncer toute anomalie ou irrégularité qu’il constate ou devrait constater selon son expérience et son expertise pour que les correctifs appropriés soient apportés (every engineer has an obligation and a duty to identify and report any anomaly or irregularity that he discovers or should detect in accordance with his expertise and experience so that the appropriate corrective actions will be undertaken). It is in keeping with this principle that I notified Eric Martel and the Board of Directors of Hydro-Québec that their new electricity meters are not safe.
I have included a copy of the information I sent to Hydro-Québec (as well as additional YouTube references) with this letter and now both the Régie de l’énergie and Hydro-Québec have been made aware of the dangers associated with the new meters. Both now have the responsibility to ensure that the appropriate corrective actions are implemented so that there is no property damage or loss of life resulting from the installation of the meters.
Hydro-Québec has chosen to label my request to remove unsafe electricity meters from service “a complaint”. They sent me the attached answer to my complaint and it is striking that they did not address even a single one of the safety concerns which I had documented. Instead they included a copy of a Notice of Service Interruption, presumably to punish me for having the nerve to ask for safe meters for all Hydro-Québec customers. Or perhaps they wanted to intimidate me from taking this matter further.
In any case, Hydro-Québec has rejected my complaint and I’m writing to you to request a review of their complaint decision. Enclosed a cheque for $30.
Along with their answer to my complaint, Hydro-Québec sent me a copy of decision D – 2015 – 201 made by the Régie de l’énergie on December 10, 2015. Please note that the legal trickery implied in paragraph 41 of this decision does not absolve anyone from their responsibility to prevent human beings from being injured or killed by electricity meters that are known to be unsafe. The meters are not CSA approved and have not been thoroughly and independently tested under all Québec conditions, so their approval by the Régie was necessarily flawed.
If Hydro-Québec installs electricity meters that have not been fully tested for safety, that could be viewed as negligence. Consequently I am sending copies of this correspondence to Me Pascale Descary.
F. (Thomas) Tobber, P. Eng.
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COPY OF A LETTER TO THE PRESIDENT AND BOARD OF HYDRO-QUEBEC
March 26, 2018
REF: Electricity Meters that Burn
Mr. Martel and Members of the Board of Directors,
Hydro-Québec is installing 3.8 million «new generation» plastic electricity meters throughout the province. Unlike the present metal electricity meters, plastic meters can burn and emit poisonous and explosive gases when they overheat. If installed in the existing meter boxes, plastic meters are much more dangerous than the current metal meters and must be recalled before someone is injured or killed by them.
A surprising number of plastic electricity meters have already caught fire and burned. You can watch the fires and see the burned-out meters in a 30 second video at:
and at other web-sites. The metal meters, on the other hand, are mostly iron and copper and 75 years of experience with them has shown that they do not burn.
By far the worst way to die is to be trapped in a fire and be burned alive. Consequently no one wants Hydro-Québec to install a new electricity meter that can set their house on fire or asphyxiate its occupants. Hydro-Quebec can replace the current non-combustible metal meters, but only with safe meters that cannot burn or emit poisonous and explosive gases when they overheat. But before they do that, we need to see the details of complete and independent safety tests that prove that the replacement meter is just as safe as the current metal meter. (It is unacceptable to claim that the new meter is “safe enough” because only an “insignificant” number of people will be injured or killed and that corporate liability insurance will “take care” of the victims.)
It is dangerous to replace fire-proof metal meters with plastic meters that can ignite the vinyl or wood siding that is on the outside of most houses. Smoke detectors are very effective in detecting fires inside a house. However they are all but useless for detecting burning siding on the outside of the house and so the unsuspecting occupants may wake up to find themselves surrounded by a wall of flames.
200 amperes — i.e. arc-welding currents — can flow through a residential meter to generate heat inside the meter housing. That heat is proportional to the square of the current, so that at 200 amperes 160,000 times as much heat is generated as the current for a 60 watt light bulb would generate, and if the meter contacts are worn or corroded this can cause a thermal run-away condition. The resulting electric arc is hot enough to melt steel and can dissociate the hydrocarbon molecules of the plastic to form explosive hydrogen gas and carbon atoms that can form deadly carbon monoxide gas.
It is incomprehensible that someone would make the new meters out of plastics that can out-gas, smoke or burn when they arc and overheat. These meters are connected by a large-diameter conduit to the inside of houses which are almost always at a lower air pressure than the outside air (due to furnaces, exhaust fans, clothes dryers, etc.). Air under ambient pressure can enter the meter housing and easily force any toxic and/or explosive gases from overheated or burning plastic through the conduit and into the house. Some of the gases are exceptionally dangerous because they are invisible but can cause brain damage, respiratory dysfunction or death. Imperceptible, progressive brain damage due to toxic gases entering the house from a meter that repeatedly overheats during power peaks is a much greater danger than a visibly burning meter.
The four plug-in spade connectors on each meter are a decided weak point in our residential electricity system. At 200 amperes even a one milliohm (0.001 ohm) contact resistance generates 160 watts and the meter housing becomes too hot to touch. Safe engineering practice requires that the connectors be enclosed in a metal meter box that contains only metal, ceramic, glass and the 240 volt wires. And in the near future, the electric current through the meters will increase dramatically as more people buy and charge electric cars, as central air conditioning becomes necessary due to climate warming, as more people install on-demand water heaters, etc., so plastic in the meter box is clearly not acceptable.
The forced installation of 3,800,000 electricity meters that can potentially burn and out-gas but are unproven and untested under Québec extremes of temperature, humidity, fault conditions, etc. requires a detailed health and safety risk assessment. Such an engineering assessment produces estimates for the failures of the various components of the system, including failures causing a meter to overheat. From those it is possible to estimate how many houses will catch fire and how many occupants will be injured or killed during the life-time of the meters (with 3.8 million installations that number will not be zero). The people, via their elected representatives and the Régie de l’Energie can then decide whether the value of the project is worth the human cost.
No one wants to be part of that cost. Until Hydro Québec can prove by thorough and independent testing that the new meters are as safe as the current ones, the installed new meters must be replaced with non-combustible ones. It is completely unacceptable for Hydro Québec to start such a public-safety replacement only after a Coroner’s Inquest. No one should have to die just to make it more convenient for Hydro Québec to read its electricity meters.
F. (Thomas) Tobber, P. Eng.
LETTER TO THE CORPORATION OF MASTER ELECTRICIANS OF QUEBEC (CMEQ)
REF: Burning Hydro Meters
Nov. 5, 2018
Mr. Carrier and Members of the Board of Directors,
Please watch only 30 seconds of https://youtu.be/lL46HI0NgiY?t=28. As you can see, the plastic electricity meter quickly sets the house on fire — it’s almost as if someone had poured diesel fuel over the meter box. And in the old quarters of some cities in Quebec there are still many electricity meters that are installed inside the houses.
2.0 The house fire results from the installation of a flammable plastic meter into a meter box that was custom-designed over 75 years ago for a standard non-combustible metal meter. As the video shows, the existing meter boxes are woefully inadequate to contain a high-energy plastic meter fire which then spreads to the building. The standard metal counters, on the other hand, do not burn.
3.0 In Quebec, electricity meter boxes are in the exclusive jurisdiction of the Corporation des maître électriciens du Quebec. Only master electricians are allowed to install meter boxes or to break the seal to inspect/maintain the socket and wiring inside. As a result, master electricians understand meter box problems much better than anyone else.
3.1 Decades of experience have shown that the standard mechanical meters are perfectly safe in the meter boxes that were expressly designed for them. The new plastic meters, on the other hand, are alleged to have been involved in hundreds of meter box fires in Quebec, a clear warning that they are definitely not safe when installed in the existing boxes. Despite this Hydro-Québec has refused to recall their flammable meters.
3.2 Was the CMEQ invited to participate in the approval process of Hydro-Québec’s new plastic electricity meters?
3.3 Does the CMEQ know how many fires occurred in meter boxes containing plastic meters, in the last 5 years?
3.4 Did the CMEQ give Hydro-Québec permission to install their new flammable meters in the old and now-inadequate meter boxes which are in the CMEQ jurisdiction?
4.0 Because they can burn and emit toxic and explosive gases, Hydro-Québec’s new generation plastic meters are much more dangerous than the standard mechanical meters. In March, I wrote the attached letter to Eric Martel and the Board of Directors of Hydro-Québec but the company replied with a form-letter that did not address any of my safety concerns.
6.0 Outside meter boxes are exposed to extreme conditions (condensing humidity, temperature extremes, acidic atmospheric pollution, RF energy, inept meter installers) and so there will always be ‘hot sockets’ to act as ignition sources. Previously these ignition sources could not ignite the mechanical meters which are made mostly of iron and copper. Plastic meters, on the other hand, are not only kindling and fuel for the hot socket ignition sources, but — because this material burns so well — the meters themselves are actually a fire accellerant. The result is a fast, high-energy, dangerous fire that can then spread to the building.
7.0 Hydro-Québec emphatically claims that their meters do not burn and that meter box fires are caused by the sockets and the wiring in the meter boxes. However, it is also alleged that Hydro-Québec quickly removes the burned-out meters before forensic investigations by fire departments can determine the cause of the fire.
7.1 Electricity meters are owned by Hydro-Québec which is responsible for their electrical safety. But the design and construction of the meter boxes are in the Electrical Code which is in the jurisdiction of the CMEQ, and meter boxes are exclusively installed and maintained by master electricians.
8.0 Since Hydro-Quebec claims that the sockets and wires in the installed meter boxes are the ignition sources, is the CMEQ prepared to accept full responsibility for the many plastic meter fires?
8.1 After all, the CMEQ has not insisted that the Electrical Code be updated with new meter box designs that can contain the much more intense plastic meter fires and vent the toxic and explosive gases from such volatile fires. At present, there are no new meter boxes specifically designed to contain the much more energetic fire of the plastic meters, and the new meters cannot be installed in the old, obsolete meter boxes without creating an unacceptable fire hazard. Nevertheless, so far the CMEQ has implicitly agreed to the installation of the new plastic meters in meter boxes that it knows are inadequate to contain such fires.
9.0 It would be possible to install 4,000,000 new, re-designed meter boxes in Quebec but it is much safer and less expensive to recall the unsafe plastic meters and to upgrade them with active-safety technology before someone is injured or killed by them. In Québec over 35% of house and apartment fires are caused by electricity and none of us wants to wake up in a house that is burning as shown in the video above. Preventable, unnecessary house fires could result in expensive law suits/class action law suits against the CMEQ and in public outcry if someone is injured or killed.
10.0 To ensure fire safety, master electricians could refuse to install any more of the now-obsolete meter boxes because they know that Hydro-Québec will only install flammable plastic meters in them and thus create even more fire hazards. That would give Hydro-Québec the required incentive to upgrade their meters with temperature-activated circuit breaker technology which would make the whole meter box installation safe again.
12.0 Please do everything in your power to prevent the installation of more plastic meters in meter boxes that were never designed for them, and compel Hydro-Quebec to recall and upgrade the dangerous new generation meters that are already installed in the old and incompatible meter boxes.
(See also: https://www.google.ca/search?=smart+meter+fires&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwigtIbYw_ndAhVJy1MKHUEOBG4Q_AUIDygC&biw=942&bih=465 [click on an image, and then on the word “Visit”],
and the excellent Quebec web site: http://www.cqlpe.ca/Bulletins/BulletinSpecialFeu.htm
F. (Thomas) Tobber, P. Eng.
Sharon Noble, Director, Coalition to Stop Smart Meter
“The absence of absolute proof does not mean the absence of risk,” Dr. Annie Sasco