Sensus Smart Meter Fire Woes Continue To Mount

on September 08, 2014 at 2:00 PM


Quick Take: I have yet to read any conclusive evidence that Sensus smart meters are actually to blame for any fires. Even so, the company continues to suffer PR damage from recent decisions by several utilities to uninstall Sensus meters because of fire concerns. These struggles underline the importance of perception. Here’s hoping the company’s brand new Generation 4 meters will put this chapter behind them. As you will read below, they have new features that meet fire concerns head on. – Jesse Berst

  Sensus has suffered a series of highly visible “recalls” by utilities:

  • Portland General Electric (Oregon) said in July it was replacing 70,000 Sensus smart meters after reports of three fires
  • SaskPower (Saskatchewan) said in August it was removing 105,000 Sensus smart meters after eight reports of meters overheating, with some catching fire
  • Lakeland Electric announced last week it will replace more than 10,500 Sensus smart meters following six fires in the past year

In Lakeland’s case, the utility is replacing only meters with the remote-disconnect feature, which make up about 9% of the utility’s total meters. They will be replaced with a different type of meter from Sensus.

Sensus has taken the position that the fires were caused, not by its meters, but by power surges or holes in meter boxes that let moisture in. Both versions of Sensus’ new Generation 4 meters include high temperature detection. Utilities can optionally order the meters with an automatic disconnect that kicks in if overheating occurs.

  Jesse Berst is the founder and Chief Analyst of SGN and Chairman of the Smart Cities Council, an industry coalition.