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PECO Meters May Have Led to 6 Area Fires

Several Newtown fires have been determined to have been caused by new PECO "smart meters."

 

After several fires in the region have been attributed to the new PECO “smart” energy meters, the energy provider on Wednesday stopped installation of the devices, officials confirmed to Patch Thursday.

Since the beginning of the year, nearly 180,000 of the new meters have been delivered to Delaware Valley households. By next year, the company had hopes of placing over 1 million across its service area, PECO spokeswoman Cathy Engel Menendez said.

As of Thursday, PECO has halted installation of the Sensus brand meters and has also begun a forensic investigation into what caused the meters to burst into flames.

One of the meters is being blamed for a fire that damaged a vinyl-sided house on Lookout Lane in Washington Crossing Sunday morning, Upper Makefield Fire Marshal John Kernan said.

Kernan said that his investigation revealed that the fire emanated from the meter box on the outside of the house. A neighbor and a passing jogger both witnessed the fire and saw flames and sparks emanating from the meter box.

The meter fire in Upper Makefield doesn't appear to be an isolated case either.

Three similar fires have been reported in Newtown over the past two months, township Fire Marshal Don Harris said.

The meter boxes are also being blamed for an April fire at the Bristol Garden Apartments in Lower Bucks County, Fox 29 reported.

The Upper Makefield fire marshal also reported he is investigating another recent fire to determine if that one was caused by a meter box.

Engel Menendez said in an interview with Patch Thursday evening that PECO has finished investigations into six of the 15 "overheating" incidents and has determined the problem has been caused by "preexisting" wiring problems, not with the newly-installed smart meters.

The utility company is planning to replace some Sensus meters that could overheat with another brand to see if the new meter performs better. The company is also offering inspection of the meters, a Bucks County fire official said.

PECO plans to update some of the smart meters' software via wireless signal in the coming weeks with a new feature that would shut the meter off if overheating occurs. An early alarm system is also being installed, Engel Menendez reported.

Both Kernan and Harris said homeowners have been lucky to this point that the meter fires haven’t caused injuries or more serious fires.

Utility customers who have concerns about their recently installed smart meters are able to call a PECO helpline at 855-741-9011.

 

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Man Landers August 17, 2012 at 01:12 PM
This is really freaking scary .
Positive Vibs August 17, 2012 at 01:40 PM
Peco should work on this immediately and remove these meters that we had no choice receiving!
Dan McGovern August 17, 2012 at 01:48 PM
Especially scary when you actually have one installed as I have. Yes, PECO should be uninstalling these immediately.
Carol Boyle August 17, 2012 at 01:58 PM
I agree! They have already been by my house to change the meter. I'm going to call to have it changed immediately!
Coco's Mom August 17, 2012 at 02:17 PM
I am very afraid. They had trouble installing my meter and left a note on my door (no one was home) stating that they couldn't do it, but that they left me with no power and power should be restored in a FEW DAYS. This was July 3. It was SO HOT and the next day is a holiday when we were hosting a party! I spent hours on the phone and all day waiting for them to come repair the issue. Someone came that evening and said he wasn't able to do the work for whatever reason and tried to leave. I demanded that they return and do the work and he then sent someone else. That evening the new meter was finally installed. What a nightmare! I called PECO to voice my complaint about the experience and no one has returned two calls, I guess they don't care. I don't understand why they think it's okay to leave people with no power in the middle of July for a FEW DAYS (!?) or why these were installed without being tested for quality control based on all the fires and articles I am reading. I am really disturbed by this, I want mine removed.
Erik Linden August 17, 2012 at 02:50 PM
i called the hotline and they told me a smart meter had not been installed at my house. clearly they don't know what the heck they're talking about because i can walk out my door and see the senus meter clear as day. peco has some explaining to do...
Cynthia Sirota August 17, 2012 at 06:36 PM
I just called PECO and was given the number (855)741-9011 to have the meter in question looked at. Scary!
Helen Weber August 18, 2012 at 04:30 AM
PECO received $200 Million Dollars of stimulus money to install these Smart Meters in PA. This same thing is going on in other states with the same results, fires, people complaining of feeling sick since meters applied to their homes. The Pa legislature passed Act 129 in 2008 to make it mandatory for everyone to have a Smart Meter (even though you don't have an analogy now, but a digital meter, they insist they will install a Smart Meter in its place). Rep Reese has introduced legislation, HB2188, which would make Smart Meters optional. It is now sitting in the House Consumer Affairs Committee and will not make it out of committee unless enough people contact the Chairman of the Committee, which is Robert Godshall 1-717-787-7424 and their own state representative insisting that their representative put his/her name on the bill as a sponsor and do all he/she can to get it out of committee and onto the floor for a vote. If you have a Smart Meter and it causes your house to burn, PECO is not responsible, your own personal insurance would have to rebuild your home. It is pretty much like someone being able to attach a time bomb to your home and say you are responsible if it goes off! PECO will revisit some of the installed meters and put a WARNING on them and a device that SHOULD shut the meter off if it overheats. PECO says they will use another manufacturer for future installations. Are we to believe that these will be any safer than the others?
Erik Linden August 18, 2012 at 05:26 PM
update: impressed with PECO customer service. they came to my house today on a saturday before 9am and replaced both of my smart meters with new, safer ones. i was happily surprised with the response.
Coco's Mom August 20, 2012 at 12:07 AM
They came to us but no replacement. Were they supposed to?
D C Signs August 21, 2012 at 11:58 AM
I just heard about this. Peco. came to my home to change the meter about a month ago. This is VERY scary! My husband has been very ill since the beginning of the year and I really don't need the added stress of worrying about a house fire! I can't believe that Peco has the nerve to make us get the new meters but if there is a fire it's the homeowner's fault if they catch fire due to "faulty wiring". I'm going to call Peco hand have my meter checked ... but I'm a bit wary.
Dan McGovern August 22, 2012 at 09:58 PM
Don't be in too much of a rush to have it changed. PECO changed ours after we called. I checked the first one numerous times to see if it was getting hot. It never did. This new one is warm to slightly hot. I'm not sure it's supposed to be warm but wanted to pass that on. For what it's worth, it went from a Flexnet Model 530X to Flexnet Model 560XZ. Both made by Sensus
Gerry Couch August 24, 2012 at 02:13 PM
Where are local town officials, wouldn't a municipal response be appropriate!
Dan McGovern August 24, 2012 at 03:15 PM
Called PECO about new one getting hot. They are supposed to send someone out to check. PECO said the new one is from a "new manufacturer". When I explained they are both Sensus products, she said "oh".
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