A recent series of fires in homes where smartmeters from Raleigh-based Sensus have been installed has triggered a suspension of further installations by the PECO utility in the Philadelphia area. But Sensus says its meters are not to blame, and the company has not issued any recall.

WRAL Tech Wire reached out to Sensus for its reaction to a series of news reports from Philadelphia and other media about the fires. PECO is the largest electric and natural gas utility in Pennsylvania with more than 2 million customers. Its smartmeter deployment program has been described by the media as “aggressive.”

The two weeks ago these headlines appeared:

  • “PECO Halts Smart Meter Installation After Meter Overheating,” reported Greentech Media.
  • “New PECO smart meters blamed for fires,” ABC news in Philadelphia added.
  • “PECO suspends smart-meter installations,” the headline read in the Philadelphia Inquirer.
  • “PECO Meters May Have Lead to 6 Area Fires,” noted Patch.com.

Sensus is building a global business with smartmeters for use by utilities. In fact, Chief Executive Officer Peter Mainz had a smartmeter installed at his Wake Forest home back in January.

But the Philadelphia fires aren’t the first incident involving questions about Sensus gear. Questions were raised about Sensus water meters last fall in Sarnac Lake, N.Y.

Sensus Defense

In response to Tech Wire’s inquiry, Sensus provided the following defense:

“At Sensus our first priority is the safety of our employees, customers and their customers.

“We continue to be concerned about the small number of issues that PECO and its customers are experiencing with their deployment.

“While any incident is unfortunate, these incidents have been seen at less than .01 percent of the 186,000 locations that have received Sensus meters deployed by PECO.

“The analyses completed to date on the small number of meters that have overheated indicate the root cause as being existing conditions at a customer’s property. The analyses completed to date show no evidence that a Sensus meter was the cause of the overheating incidents.

“Sensus meters are not being recalled.

“Sensus is committed to providing safe and reliable smart meter technology to our utility customers. The 10 million Sensus meters that are installed and operating safely throughout North America were extensively tested and are certified as meeting or exceeding ANSI [American National Standards Institute] standards. Additionally, every Sensus meter is subject to further extensive quality testing before they are shipped.

“We will continue working with PECO, like all of our utility customers, to address their customers’ concerns and questions as quickly as possible.”