by K.T. Weaver, for Take Back Your Power
SaskPower CEO Robert Watson has resigned — without severance — after an investigation into “smart” meter fires throughout Saskatchewan.

As reported in late July, following a series of fires throughout Saskatchewan, Canada, “SaskPower ordered to remove all 105,000 smart meters in the province.

On October 27th, the Government of Saskatchewan released the results of a scathing review on the smart meter “debacle” which is now commonly being referred to as a “catastrophe.”  The  report concluded that “customer safety was not given enough priority.”

SaskPower CEO Robert Watson resigned his position immediately following the release of the report on the smart meter program.

Findings from the investigation

According to the government’s review:

“The primary issue of catastrophic meter failures which prompted the AMI program to be halted was not identified as an initial program risk.  When additional information about smart meter fires from other sources came to light, the risk of catastrophic meter failures did not prompt an independent reevaluation of the risk related to Sensus smart meters.”

Additional key findings:

  • Moisture and contaminants getting inside the meters were a major factor in the meter fires.
  • There is no evidence to indicate the fires were the result of improper installation or hot sockets.
  • SaskPower did not adequately consider the potential for significant meter failures resulting in damage to homes.
SaskPower CEO Robert Watson resigns amidst smart meter "catastrophe"
VIDEO: SaskPower CEO Robert Watson resigns amidst smart meter “catastrophe”

Jack Ritenburg, an electrical engineer and head of Ritenburg & Associates concluded that moisture and contaminants inside the meters was the cause of the smart meter fires.  He also concluded that “water intrusion due to holes in meter boxes, ‘hot socket’ conditions in the meter box and over voltage in the distribution system” or other “external factors” were not the cause of the fires as previously claimed by the manufacturer:

Jack Ritenburg, an electrical engineer and head of Ritengurb and Associates, reports on the suspected causes behind the SaskPower smart meter fires.
Jack Ritenburg, an electrical engineer and head of Ritengurb and Associates, reports on the suspected causes behind the SaskPower smart meter fires.

According to the independent fire investigation report:

“There was significant precipitation in the previous thirty days for all of the fires. There was significant precipitation in five of the fires within the preceding two days. The remaining three fires had light precipitation within the preceding two days.  There is evidence that moisture and contaminants have been getting into the meters and possibly being trapped.”

“Hot socket issues have been flagged as a possible reason for some of the meter failures. … [W]e feel that a hot socket condition resulting in a destructive meter failure and fire are not likely.”

“Sensus has claimed that some of the smart meter fires were caused by utility over-voltage. … We have not found any evidence to support that a significant over-voltage occurred and resulted in a destructive meter failure.”

The photo below shows electrical arcing inside a smart meter that was taken out of service under the category “Display Error.”  This failure is in the same location as smart meters which suffered a catastrophic failure.

Comparison of Burnt Boards

The following photo (below) shows a meter that was taken out of service by SaskPower that has staining from smoke and evidence of moisture at the bottom of the meter.  This meter had not yet suffered a catastrophic failure.

Sensus Burnt Smart Meter

The fire investigation report concluded with the following statements:

In view of the above, we are of the opinion that moisture and contaminants within the meter has been a major factor in the meter failures and ensuing fires.”

As there is some danger with destructive meter failures and potential resulting fires, we recommend that the existing Sensus Generation 3.3 meters be replaced as soon as possible.  As the existing meter fires have had a close relationship to precipitation levels, SaskPower might wish to consider replacement no later than the end of winter and before the spring thaw and spring rains begin.”

Just to be clear, the fire investigation report reveals that the principal problem is  primarily rain water  (and/or condensation along with other contaminants) that gets into the smart meters themselves, causing arcing across electronic components with eventual catastrophic failure of the meter with a possible explosion or fire.  Furthermore, based upon a review of the investigative report, it is clear we basically have “cheap” meters with a number of design deficiencies which includes uninsulated busbars in close proximity to printed circuit boards and which further allow easy entry of water and dust into the meter enclosures.

Bottom line, … the existing smart meters on people’s homes still present a fire risk in Saskatchewan and elsewhere.  In addition, these types of problems would not occur with traditional analog meters that do not contain fragile electronic components.

Smart meters a catastrophe

As a supplement, this website will quote a portion of an October 28, 2014, article in the Leader-Post entitled SaskPower smart meters a ‘catastrophe’:

“Lest there still be any doubt how badly bungled the SaskPower smart meter debacle was, consider how frequently lawyers, technical specialists and others used the word ‘catastrophic’ in their joint review released Monday.

‘The primary issue of catastrophic meter failures which prompted the AMI (Advanced Meter Infrastructure) program to be halted was not identified as an initial program risk,’ stated the $500,000 Crown Investments Corp. (CIC) report entitled Smart Meter Review.

‘When additional information about smart meter fires from other sources came to light, the risk of catastrophic meter failures did not prompt an independent re-evaluation of the risk related to Sensus smart meters.

An escalation of the risk assessment could have prompted additional investigation, testing and either closer monitoring of installed meters or a pause to the rollout of smart meters until issues were better understood.’

Catastrophic’ in Monday’s report refers to not just the eight fires started by the smart meters, but occasions when things like smoking in the smart meters – largely due to moisture or debris getting inside what should have been a sealed casing – might have easily led to fires.  In all, there were some 359 incidents of meter failure, although the majority were for things like improper readings.

Yet according to the review – [comprised] of three separate reports by Ritenburg and Associates looking into technical issues, Robertson Stromberg commissioned to look at legal matters, and PwC asked to review procurement and contract management – little or no thought was ever given to the inherent risk of catastrophic events.”

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About the Author

K.T. Weaver is a health physicist who was employed in the nuclear division of a leading electric utility for over 25 years.  He served in various positions, including Station Health Physicist, Senior Health Physicist, corporate Health Physics Supervisor, and corporate Senior Technical Expert for Radiobiological Effects.  K.T. has earned a B.S. in Engineering Physics and an M.S. in Nuclear Engineering with a specialty in radiation protection.  He also operates the “SkyVision Solutions” website at

  • wish they would recognize the health effects,i havent slept since these were “deployed” ,bats and frogs no longer exist here as a result of this “program” and of course the lower income working class and disabled on fixed incomes forced to live in apartment complexes have hundreds of these radiating us at once and its about time these profiteers go to prison for such harm and cover up.

    • Hi DeannaM,
      I have fortunately padlocked my Electric Meter box now for nigh of four (4) years so I’m ok, and only open it for the Meter Reader Man to get his readings and then I padlock it shut again. Bbut I pity those people who did not here in Victoria Australia. They only went out shopping for less than an hour and then BANK WALLOP in that time some cunning Smart Meter Installer…..( read here Criminal Smart Meter installer ) stole that and many other people’s Safe and Passive Analog Electric Meter/s.
      Now we have homes burning down…… that is a number of them here in Victoria Australia and other States in Australia and only after these ACCURSED and dopy INCENDIARY and far from Smart Meters have been foisted on people. Of course much Microwave Sickness abounds as well such as Tinnitus and or Chronic Insomnia and chest pains and bleeding noses and Takicarditis etc., and only after these accursed machines have been foisted on so many people here in Victoria Australia and in its other six (6) States in Australia

      • smartest thing you could have ever done.there is no end to my suffering here ,been 4-5 years now,ALL of the symptoms you listed and more.i live in a subsidized housing complex ,mine is the end unit with the “smart”cell reciever on it .we had no warning,never heard of them before,they just came through and installed them city wide and added towers one by one hot water heater literally caught fire in the electrics.thank God i was in the bath tub when it happened and smelled something foul because it was flaming .shut the breaker off ,got it replaced and leave the breakers off of everything but the main for lights and the refrigerator ,turning the hot water tank on 20 minutes before i use it ,and off again immediately where to move ,they have these everywhere up here.they need to shut this program down ,its a trojan horse

  • Good to see a CEO resign from this. More people need to be held accountable. Aside from the safety concerns, the escalating costs, privacy and health issues are HUGE. See what the experts are saying at

    • Dear longevity rescuer,
      All of these I allege to be Criminal C.E.O’s and their Ilk including their I also allege to be Crooked Lawyers need to be locked up for the termsof their Natural Lives and never released. Yes they should all stay in PRISON until they all ROT !

  • Dear Readers,
    This from me in Victoria Australia. We have the same catastrophes in Australia in all States. It’s time to get these dopy and I allege to be CRIMINAL Electric Power Companies C.E.O’s and their I also allege to be Evil Ilk to rip out every one of these damned Electric Microwave A.M.I and now proving to be FAR FROM SMART Meters at their expense, and replace them with the Safe and Passive Analog Electric Meters they stole from all of their Electricity Customers IMMEDIATELY.
    Far too many house fires are happening from these Far From Smart Meters. Far too many Fusions of Fridges and deep Freezers. Far too many computers blowing up and or any other electrical goods such as Printers and or Electric Ovens burning out etc.

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