SaskPower will begin uninstalling smart meters after some unexpectedly caught fire over the last week.
Saskatchewan Minister responsible for SaskPower, Bill Boyd, announced in a news release last week that the province is directing SaskPower to remove all 105,000 smart meters that have been installed to date.
“Starting immediately, we will begin removal of all 105,000 smart meters that will be replaced with the former style of digital meter currently in use by the majority of our customers,” Boyd said in a statement.
“We’re working with our supplier to secure these meters, and we’re developing a plan to replace meters as quickly as possible.”
The removal comes after news of some smart meters in Saskatoon were catching on fire over the July 25 weekend.
The implementation of the smart meters rolled out in late 2013, and government reports are expecting the replacements to take up to nine months to fully pull all 105,000 smart meters from circulation.
Robert Watson, SaskPower president and CEO, said in a prepared statement that the issue is being taken extremely seriously.
“The safety of our customers and employees is our top priority as we continue our investigation.”
What caused the meters to catch fire, and fail has not been determined, and SaskPower is expecting the investigation to take a month to prepare.
In a press conference, Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall announced that he has asked the Crown Investments Corporation (CIC) to investigate the situation.
“The government ordered an internal review to examine how SaskPower came to install the Sensus meters,” he said.
“This is what we want to get to the bottom of,” Wall said. “It’s not acceptable.”
Leader of the Official Opposition Cam Broten called on the government to take more action in the issue, by asking the premier to call for a provincial auditor’s inquiry, in an interview with the Lloydminster Source.
“We want an independent investigation to get to the bottom of this, Mr. Wall said last week that he wanted CIC to investigate. I think that is a joke. To have the Government investigate itself. It’s not how we are going to get to the bottom of this issue,” he said.
Broten said that the provincial auditor is the best person to do the investigation.
“She can have the authority to do so, and can provide a report that is public and does not have any political interference,” he said.
Broten said that Saskatchewan people deserve to know how much money has gone into these smart meters before.
“Above all, people need to know what this is actually going to cost,” he said.
“The government now pegs the price tag at $47 million, but how much of the nearly $200 million contract with the American company, Sensus, has been paid, and how much of that will be recovered for Saskatchewan families?”
Broten said the premier would be doing the right thing, by calling for an independent provincial auditor’s inquiry.
“Mr. Wall needs to take this first step in addressing this issue, and getting some real answers.”
All customers will be notified when their meter has been replaced. In the meantime, SaskPower customers can call 1-855-877-0975 with any questions.