Our smart meter was ‘melted’
Published: October 31, 2012 10:00 AM
Updated: October 31, 2012 1:22 PM
It started as a bit of a mystery.
It was around 10:30 p.m. on a recent Tuesday, and the last customers of the evening were still finishing up their dinners when the lights at Cloverdale’s Vault Restaurant started to noticeably flicker and wane.
At first, people thought it was a not-so-subtle hint that it was time to leave – like shutting off the music at closing time at a night club.
“The lights would dim and go back on,” recalls Vault restaurant co-owner Aaron Hotell. “It was constantly surging. Customers said, ‘Are you trying to get us to leave?’”
Hotell said his staff were baffled; nobody knew what was causing the lights to dim.
Curiosity turned into panic the next morning, when staff arrived to find the power was out in half the building, affecting the deep freezer, walk-in coolers and refrigerators storing meat and food.
With thousands of dollars in food hanging in the balance, there was no time to waste. So Hotell called in an electrician, who soon discovered there was a problem with the smart meter installed at the back of the restaurant.
A BC Hydro trouble technician was dispatched to turn off the power to the building, and Hotell’s electrician was given authorization to remove and replace the smart meter, which had been installed several months previously.
The original smart meter was damaged – it was melted and covered in soot.
One of the four meter sockets was damaged as well; it appeared like it had been jammed into place, causing it to bend and crumple, something the electrician believed was causing the power to “arc out”, and creating power surges and the eventual loss of power to half the building on Oct. 16, Hotell said.
The restaurant’s power problem was resolved, but serious questions lingered.
According to spokesman Greg Alexis, BC Hydro has nearly completed its installation of 1.7 million wireless electricity meters, with very few problems reported.
There have been more than 1,700 cases where there was pre-existing damage to a customer’s meter socket, including eroded writing, improper meter socket installations and electrical by-passes.
Damaged meter sockets are usually the owner’s responsibility, but BC Hydro inspects them at the time of installation and offers to fix them at no charge if they are damaged.
“In this particular case, as the customer did contact an electrician to come out and repair their meter socket, we will reimburse them for that expense,” Alexis said.
“Our installers check the meter base during the meter exchange,” he said. “If they discover a problem with the customer’s base, we contact the homeowner and offer to bring in a qualified electrician to fix the problem at our expense.”
After media reports of fires associated with the program, BC Hydro commissioned a study of residential fire reports by Surrey Fire Chief Len Garis and researcher Joseph Clare.
It shows electrical fires have declined since new meters began.
Alexis said there has been no evidence where a smart meter has been the cause of a fire, and added the meters themselves don’t carry a charge.
Additionally, prior to the smart meter program, BC Hydro “routinely exchanged up to 40,000 meters per year,” he said.
Customers who do notice sustained flickering lights throughout their home or business should contact BC Hydro. They should also ensure that any modifications to their home or business that involve wiring is done by a qualified electrician.
Hotell, meanwhile, fears his restaurant had a close call – he wonders what might have happened if the problem hadn’t been detected right away.
“We’re talking about 240 volts – it’s the main power coming into the building,” he said.
The smart meter was installed several months ago, about the same time as a number of other businesses in the historic town centre.
“We’re questioning how many other meters were improperly installed,” he says. “With the age of all the buildings in the area, are we going to have more problems?”
Hotell wants assurance that other smart meters in the historic downtown were done correctly.
“I’d love it if they paid for at least my electrician. I just don’t want to think that everyone in town has been installed wrong. I just want assurance.”
At presstime, BC Hydo’s customer service department and Hotell had not yet connected to resolve the issue of cost.
Haven’t discussed this Smart Meter issue for a while, but stumbled across this story(above).
As we speak….there is approx. a ” 60 day countdown” before BC Hydro legislated obligation to have Smart Meters installed in every BC Hydro customers home. ie by Dec. 31 2012.
The alleged anomaly of Smart Meter fires may have low probability, but we must keep in mind the many OTHER negative variables inherent in the design. Think about it…is their any other such intricate metering/spying/ montitoring etc. device that is attached to the outside of your home ? Has anyone received ANY answers as to the lifespan of these devices…5 years..10 years..????? as opposed to the analog meters (mine is 32 years old).
At last glance, I recall that approx. 250,000 BC Hydro customers had not permitted Smart Meters. I would submit that BC Hydro will begin to ramp up actions to meet this deadline…and we will soon start to have a lot of stories in the media about the various “interactions” between Corix Staff and the last holdouts(obviously well informed citizens ..KUDOS…..as opposed to the clueless sheep)….and I will predict some of these interactions will become very violent. My suggestion is to build a cage around your meter, built like a brick shithouse.
BTW..in passing, I drove by Hugh Boyd/West Richmond Community Center today. There, near the middle of the soccer field , is a large metal tower with several microwave transmitters attached. I can’t recall ever seeing that on Public Property…how many “multiples of 30 pieces of silver” did City Hall get to allow that ? Our own City made a deal with company to allow a very controversial and highly probable health impacting device to be installed near a school /community center/ recreational field where a high concentration of people are literally 24/7 ?
I can’t believe it…..I think I will make the proper inquiries .