New PECO smart meters blamed for fires

August 17, 2012 7:22:00 AM PDT
They're called smart meters, but PECO has acknowledged that they're causing problems.

Workers repaired fire damage to a Bucks County house cause by a newly installed PECO smart meter Thursday afternoon.

This latest incident has prompted PECO to take the unusual step of suspending its big push to install a new generation of government mandated meters.

PECO spokeswoman Cathy Engel Menendez tells Action News they will not be installing meters additional customers at this time.

Menendez says PECO plans to examine data from the already installed units which go by the name of Sensus meters.

"With that data we will take some of those meters and replace them with another brand of meter. We want to see if there is any difference in performance," Menendez said.

In addition, the remaining Sensus meters will get software upgrades to shut down should they get hot enough to start a fire.

While the problem is indeed real, it has been very rare.

"We have installed 186,000 meters. We've had 15 cases where meters have overheated," Menendez said.

Former meter installer Scott Cummings welcomed the moratorium, saying his team had noticed problems with electrical arcing of smart meters.

"It was causing some fires," Cummings said.

Smart meters are part of the nationwide effort to make the power grid more efficient. Using two way wireless transmissions, utilities say that can help restore blackouts faster.

However, anti smart meter websites blast that wireless technology claiming it can cause health problems.

Critics have posted videos of customers chasing off installers and what's described as a smart meter fire.

If you have one of the 186,000 already installed Sensus meters and have concern it is overheating, PECO has set up this hotline 1-855-741-9011.


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