2015-07-28 Special update — Some evidence of fires sent to BCUC.

Several people have written to BCUC complaining about the fire issue and received this form letter in response from Patrick Wruck:

 Thank you for your follow-up email to the BC Utilities Commission regarding your concerns about smart meter safety.
Commission staff are in receipt of a complaint regarding smart meter safety and we are currently investigating that matter.

If you have concerns about the Smart Meter Program generally you may contact the provincial government given that the Smart Meter Program was implemented by the Clean Energy Act.

Thank you for contacting the Commission.
Patrick Wruck

I believe, and hope, that the Commission is reviewing the evidence I supplied almost 2 weeks ago. The letters to and from Patrick Wruck are below, and the evidence I provided is attached. I didn’t share before because I was hoping to give a complete package, but I am sharing now because those who are receiving the form letter deserve to know what the evidence is that the BCUC is considering.

Please read from the bottom up.

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From: Dennis and Sharon Noble [mailto:dsnoble@shaw.ca]
Sent: July 16, 2015 6:09 PM
To: complaints@bcuc.com; commission.secretary@bcuc.com
Subject: BCUC’s responsibility re. safety — incidents.
Importance: High

Dear Mr. Wruck,

Thank you for your response of July 14, 2015.

I agree that Fortis acknowledged that fires had been associated with poor installation practice and determined to address this. I would note that no such discussion took place with regard to BC Hydro’s program. Damages did occur due to the fact that Corix installers were poorly/inadequately trained.

But during the Fortis application process there was no debate about the fact that the smart meters have design flaws and that they were being installed into a meter base that was designed, tested and certified to hold an analog — not a digital or smart meter. This area was neglected even though ITRON had experienced many failures in years prior to Fortis (or BC Hydro) having signed any contract. It would appear that either ITRON mislead those attempting to perform due diligence, or efforts to ensure the smart meters were safe fell short.

There have been quite a few incidents of burned, melted, or failed meters. Because BC Hydro often removes the meter (or what is left of it) from the scene of the fire before an investigation can be completed, evidence is difficult to obtain. Despite this I have obtained evidence and below are some examples. I believe these are sufficient to demonstrate that these meters are dangerous and to warrant the BCUC’s attention because lives are being put at risk.

Images 1 and 3 burned meter  from #####, Burnaby, Jan. 2015

  • Image 2c  and 3595 Triumph melted meter from ####  Vancouver, BC  Nov. 2014
  • Images 2781, 2777 and 2774 burned meter from #### , Vancouver  Oct. 2014
  • Photos 2 and 3 burned meter  from ####., Revelstoke, May, 2014
  • FOI #2014-188 from BC Safety Authority regarding a fire in the meter base at 3466 Darwin, Coquitlam, Aug. 2012. BC Hydro paid for repairs.
  • http://www.cloverdalereporter.com/news/176510271.html   No reports have been filed to BC Safety Authority even though electricians are required to do so about any such event. BC Hydro refuses to provide the trouble report about this incident even though I provided the owner’s name, address and date. They claimed that the Freedom of Information and Privacy Act allows them to refuse to divulge this information based on “third party privacy”. I spoke with the owner and he had been told it fault of the meter base which is his responsibility. BC Hydro did not include this on their annual “incident report”.

Mr. Wruck, will you please confirm that BCUC will complete a thorough investigation into the safety of these meters, both in British Columbia and elsewhere? If these meters are causing fires in Texas, Ontario and California, this is reason enough to determine that these meters are defective and should not be on homes in BC.

There are other design flaws in addition to the lack of compatibility of the meter base that cause these devices to pose serious fire hazards. If you would like information about these features, please let me know.


Sharon Noble

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From: Complaints BCUC:EX [mailto:Complaints@bcuc.com]
Sent: July 14, 2015 1:52 PM
To: ‘Dennis and Sharon Noble’
Subject: RE: BCUC’s responsibility re safety.

Dear Ms. Noble,

Thank you for your email to the BC Utilities Commission regarding your concerns about the safety of BC Hydro’s Smart Metering Program.

While the Commission has not had any involvement in the planning or implementation of the Smart Metering Program due to the Clean Energy Act, the Commission does have general supervision of all public utilities including safety. Accordingly, if we receive a complaint, with evidence about an actual safety incident, Commission staff or the Commission may investigate the incident. However, without evidence of an actual incident the Commission has no reason to undertake an investigation.

In your email you state that “the ITRON Openway meter has design flaws that can cause and has caused fires” and you provide a legal brief from Texas regarding this matter. However, you have not provided any evidence of an actual incident; therefore no investigation will be undertaken at this time.

Regarding your concern that the risk of fires was not considered during the FortisBC hearing, please note this issue was discussed and the Commission found “there is a low-risk of fires resulting from installation of the new meters” (please refer to pages 143-145 of the decision for more information about fire risks. The decision is available here: *_Decision).

Thank you for contacting the Commission.

Patrick Wruck
Customer Relations Analyst
British Columbia Utilities Commission
6th Floor, 900 Howe Street
Vancouver, B.C.  V6Z 2N3
Website: www.bcuc.com
Phone: 604.660.4700 | Fax: 604.660.1102 | Toll Free: 1.800.663.1385

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From: Dennis and Sharon Noble [mailto:dsnoble@shaw.ca]
Sent: Monday, July 13, 2015 11:33 PM
To: Wruck, Patrick BCUC:EX; Commission Secretary BCUC:EX
Subject: BCUC’s responsibility re safety.

Dear Mr. Wruck and Secretary Hamilton,

Attached is a form letter that has been sent to many people who have raised concerns about various aspects of BC Hydro’s and Fortis BC’s smart meter program. I would appreciate having some clarification please.

I am fully aware that the Clean Energy Act says that the BCUC cannot interfere with any aspect of BC Hydro’s smart meter program. Could you please tell me if that includes where the safety of the public is directly involved?

With reference to concerns about Fortis BC’s program, you, Mr. Wruck, have stated that BCUC has determined the meters to be safe. Never was the fire issue discussed or investigated during the application process. At the time, we didn’t realize that that there were many design flaws that caused the smart meters to pose a fire hazard.

According to the BC Utilities Commission Act, a major duty of the Commission is to safeguard the public’s safety and to ensure that service is provided in a safe manner.

General supervision of public utilities

23 (1) The commission has general supervision of all public utilities and may make orders about

(a) equipment,

(b) appliances,

(c) safety devices,

(d) extension of works or systems,

(e) filing of rate schedules,

(f) reporting, and

(g) other matters it considers necessary or advisable for

(i) the safety, convenience or service of the public, or

(ii) the proper carrying out of this Act or of a contract, charter or franchise involving use of public property or rights.

(2) Subject to this Act, the commission may make regulations requiring a public utility to conduct its operations in a way that does not unnecessarily interfere with, or cause unnecessary damage or inconvenience to, the public.

Public utility must provide service

38 A public utility must

(a) provide, and

(b) maintain its property and equipment in a condition to enable it to provide, a service to the public that the commission considers is in all respects adequate, safe, efficient, just and reasonable.

Independent evidence is available that confirms that the ITRON Openway meter has design flaws that can cause and has caused fires. A legal brief from Texas is attached. Testimony in the brief states ITRON Openway meters used by Centerpoint Energy in Houston, the very same model being used by BC Hydro and Fortis BC, have failed in large numbers. I refer you specifically to the following statements and pages:

1) Those testifying had confirmed fires and failures with other linesmen and trouble-shooters prior to making the statements. Pg. 25

2) The linesmen reported that the utility had “two pallets of burned up (Itron) meters”. Pg. 8

3) The linesmen reported problems with “meters’ communication with the remote site control and many issues with meters melting and burning up.” Pg. 8

4) Linesmen determined that “part of the problem was a loose connection between the meter and the meter base because the smart meters had thinner “blades” than the previous analog meters” (emphasis added) Pg. 8 This gap could cause arcing leading to fires.

5) Concerns were raised about the ITRON smart meters “creating arc flashes, which could burn the customers’ wiring and create ‘hazardous conditions.’ …These hazardous conditions include potentially causing arc flashes, which could result in anything from minor to third degree burns to technicians who remove the meters.” Pg. 8

6) An experienced trouble-shooter for a utility reported that he had “responded to more fire calls once the smart meters were deployed and these often involved heating problems at the meter base.” Pg. 13

7) “ Reed’s testimony concerned products used by Respondent. Landis + Gyr is the manufacturer of the AMS meter used by Respondent and Itron is the manufacturer of he meters used by CenterPoint Energy in Houston.” Pg. 25

#4 is particularly relevant because the meter bases on our homes were designed, tested and certified to be used only with an analog meter, and nothing else. Despite many requests, no certification by a professional electrical engineer licensed in BC has been made available. Such certification would confirm the meter bases to be compatible with the smart meters (or digital meters) and the meters themselves to be safe. We have been told by BC Hydro that there is no certification document, as is required by the BC Electrical Safety Standards Act.

Can you please confirm for me that the Clean Energy Act and Direction 4 preclude the BCUC from taking action even where lives and property of British Columbians are concerned because the equipment being used by BC Hydro is unsafe?

Can you please explain why the BCUC is not taking action with regard to Fortis BC’s smart meters?

Thank you for your time.


Sharon Noble

Newsletter prepared by Sharon Noble

Practice safe tech, don’t do it with wifi

Photographs of Smart Meters

IMG 2781IMG_2781 (2)1

IMG 2774IMG_27741


PHOTO2photo 2 (00000002)

PHOTO3photo 3 (00000002)1

IMG 290113595 Triumph IMG_29011

IMG 2777IMG_2777 (00000002)1



IMAGE 2CMeter_2a





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