Re: BC Hydro’s Nov. 24, 2017 response to Commission questions pertaining to S. Noble’s Smart Meter Fire Report
For ease of responding, I have cut and pasted the Commission’s questions and Mr. James’s responses and will respond directly to his statements.
Please note that neither he nor the BCUC has yet responded to charges that I made in the Fire Report that the ITRON smart meters have design flaws which result in these devices posing fire hazards to homes, putting lives at risk. It is apparent to me that BC Hydro does not wish to address the significant issues with you. This will be my last response to BC Hydro’s comments which have not been complete, accurate or responsive. Rather I hope to receive comments from the BCUC in the near future.
“1.1 Does BC Hydro still rely on external electrical contractors to install ITRON Smart Meters?
BC Hydro uses both internal and external qualified resources to install and exchange meters. All external resources are qualified “red seal electrical workers”, who have been field tested by a qualified BC Hydro Meter Technician.”
This response is not true. BC Hydro and ITRON contracted with Corix to install the smart meters. Minimal training was given to people who had no prior experience. In fact, if you review the information on incident #65 will see that a meter caught fire during a live exchange in Port Alberni. The installer reported that he had had only 8 hours of training to do the work that should be done by qualified and tested electrical workers. Damage done during the exchange might not result in a fire for many months.
1) “Please confirm the following:
1.1.1 If so, what is BC Hydro’s QA/QC process for post installation of ITRON Smart Meters?
BC Hydro’s procedure for all meter installations or exchanges is as follows: …..”
In the list of procedure performed during the installation, a major one is missing: Turn off the power source to the meter. The meter base is CSA certified (C22.2 No. 115) CSA states clearly that the certification would be voided if the Utility disconnects and reconnects the power using the meter as the switch. CSA states that the bases and the meters that are mounted into them are not intended to be used a load-making or load-breaking devices.
Live exchanges resulted in damages to homes and, more important, put the lives of untrained, inexperienced installers at risk.
2) 1.2 Does BC Hydro Meter Shop conduct QA/QC sample testing when receiving ITRON Smart Meters?
Yes. A sampling of every shipment of meters will be put through acceptance testing to ensure the shipment meets the Revenue Metering requirements, which includes measurement validation, and physical and visual inspection.
BC Hydro does testing for billing accuracy only, “Revenue Metering requirements.” No independent testing is done to ensure that the smart meters are free of defects or flaws that could cause fires, putting lives and property at risk.
3) 1.3 Has BC Hydro reviewed ITRON’s Factory Acceptance Testing processes for smart meters?
Yes. As part of the original procurement process, BC Hydro reviewed factory acceptance procedures advanced by proponents. During the SMI project implementation, BC Hydro subject matter experts attended Itron’s manufacturing facility, and reviewed testing and acceptance processes. Now, in sustainment, BC Hydro reviews the testing certification reports and documents provided by Itron to confirm contractual compliance with the specified ANSI standards prior to installing a new meter type.
ANSI C12 standards, which are the standards specified, pertain to accuracy and compatibility and do not address fire safety or design flaws. By continuing to refer these standards, BC Hydro is attempting to obfuscate and convince BCUC and others that they have been diligent. I maintain they have not. BC Hydro has failed to obtain a certification by a professional electrical engineer licensed by British Columbia or even Canada confirming that ITRON smart meters are safe and cannot cause fires.
4) 1.4 Has BC Hydro Engineers reviewed and accepted ITRON’s testing/commissioning reports and engineering drawings of smart meters?
Yes. Prior to installing a new meter type, a BC Hydro professional engineer reviews and accepts the testing certification reports provided by Itron which includes dimension drawings and electrical schematic interfaces.
Accepting dimension drawing and schematics is not the same as certifying the meter is safe. Did a BC Hydro professional engineer inspect an actual ITRON smart meter to the level that would have been required to certify it as being safe? Professional electrical engineers who have taken an ITRON smart meter apart and studied its components as well as the design have found it to be dangerously flawed.
Mr. Wruck, BC Hydro is failing to address the major issues that I have raised and for which I have provided evidence:
1) ITRON meters have failed and have caused fires;
2) Unqualified workers installed smart meters under unsafe conditions, potentially voiding the CSA certification of the meter bases;
3) Independent electrical engineers have identified multiple design flaws which cause ITRON smart meters to be a fire hazard;
4) No independent professional electrical engineer licensed to work in British Columbia has certified these electrical devices to be safe;
5) Regulations and laws are being broken, with smart meters being removed from fire scenes, with inadequate reporting of incidents to the proper authorities.
As I stated in my report, it is BC Utilities Commission’s responsibility to ensure that BC Hydro’s equipment is safe and that the public is not put at risk. I am awaiting BCUC’s response to my charges that it is not fulfilling its role according to the BC Utilities Commission Act.
I look forward to your review and your comments.
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The comments from BC Hydro and Len Garis are the only ones I’ve received to date. Nothing at all from Premier Horgan, Energy Minister Mungall, Transportation Minister Trevena, or any of the MLAs to whom I sent the report. It truly seems that no one wants to acknowledge that there is a problem. I realize that everyone is busy but I don’t think that is the reason no one is responding. I think they fear they will have to do something that they do not want to do. They must be in support of this expensive, dangerous, and unnecessary program now that they have the power to do something — even if the smeters might burn a few homes down and put lives at risk.
I hope you will ask them. You might ask why the ITRON meters can’t be recalled and replaced with the wired meters like Idaho has, if they won’t support getting safe, dependable, long-lived analogs which would mean putting meter readers back to work.