In a fine article written by Anjeanette Damon for the Reno Gazette Journal, she discusses the fact that Nevada Energy has handed over to the Nevada Public Utilities Commission (PUC) documentation dealing with the installation of 1.4 million Smart Meters on homes and businesses in Nevada.
This review by the Nevada PUC has occurred due to a request made by two local fire chiefs, as a result of approximately one dozen fires involving Smart Meters. It is interesting to note that a new vocabulary has developed concerning Smart Meter fires, they are now referred to as either consumed meters or flame-outs.
Nevada Energy reports that of all the flame outs, or consumed meters, only 77 out of the 1.4 million installed meters resulted in a total loss. The figures are impressive, unless you are one of the unlucky 77.
A review of the history of Nevada Energy and their relationship with the Smart Meter and Smart Grid phenomena, shows us that they were one of the big winners in the Stimulus Grant Competition in which they were awarded a reported $138 million dollars for the Smart Grid rollout which took into account the meter purchase and distribution.
A couple of important points should be considered by the Nevada Public Utilities Commission. They should be aware of the fact the Meters which Nevada Energy installed, were not certified by Underwriters Laboratories, they were only verified. This means that the meters were tested, but they did not conform to the requisite standards of Underwriters Labs.
Hopefully, the following items have also has been dealt with and changed. The Nevada Energy Field Service Training guide omits the step to check that there is no current running through the analog meter when it is being removed and being replaced by the Smart Meter. The worker, as it is written, may remove the meter under load which can cause an arc between the meter blades and meter socket jaws. The arcing damages the meter jaws, eventually leading to a hot socket and potential fire.
Another issue needs to be addressed by Nevada Energy and the Nevada PUC in this review of documents. In the meter installation process there is no worker strength assessment. Underwriters Labs limits insertion force to 100 lbs. per square inch. Nevada Energy has not provided any type of information on the methods to test to determine if the meter workers have adequate strength to apply 100 lbs. of controlled force during the installation of the meters over the course of the entire work day on each meter installed.
If a lone worker does not have the necessary strength the worker may use unauthorized techniques, such as inserting a foreign object in the socket to overextend the Meter jaw or striking the Meter. Underwriters recommends only a vertical rocking motion be used for the Meter installation, or direct pressure for meter installation, otherwise the incorrect methods of installation can develop into a hot socket and ensuing fire.
One last thing, even though the meters are the property of Nevada Energy, please stop removing the meters from a fire scene prior to testing by the Fire Department, or the insurance company. Please note, all of the other utility companies I have dealt with involving meter fires are doing the same thing.