UL finds Sensus smart meters meet safety standards

UL finds Sensus meters meet safety standardsIn some good news for smart meter manufacturer Sensus, Underwriters Laboratories (UL) has confirmed that the Sensus Generation 3 iCon A 2S electric meter meets its latest safety standards.

UL carried out the independent tests last year at the request of Canada's SaskPower and the City of Medicine Hat, both of which experienced smart meter failures following a deployment to residential customers.

The US organisation for electrical meters tested the Sensus Generation 3 iCon A 2S remote disconnect meters against its newest industry standard: UL 2735 Standard for Safety for Electric Utility Meters, released in May 2013, and the meters were found to comply.

The UL 2735 standard, which covers the accuracy and safe performance of smart meters, tests things like flammability, water ingress, meter accuracy, exposure to various voltages and operation under extreme conditions.

Meter safety standards

State utility for the Canadian province of Saskatchewan SaskPower, which has seen 10 smart meters fail in the field due to overheating, said the results are "encouraging in the sense that we now have independent confirmation that these meters meet all standards,” said Mike Marsh, SaskPower acting president and CEO.

However, Mr Marsh, who is facing pressure from political opposition party NDP to move away from its relationship with Sensus, did say "the way these meters failed in the Saskatchewan environment was unacceptable. It’s clear that the bar must be raised. Higher standards are required of a new meter and SaskPower is leading the charge on exactly that front.”

In a statement in December 2014, SaskPower said that any new smart meter designed by Sensus specifically for the utility's requirements, must meet "more stringent requirements than currently exist".

This would form part of the recall compensation package agreed between SaskPower and Sensus last September that earmarks a credit of CAD5 million (US$4.17 million) toward a bespoke next generation meter.

Positive test results

Meanwhile, the City of Medicine Hat asked UL to perform safety tests on 40 Sensus meters, which had failed due to suspected problems with the socket base.

The tests included nine UL 2735 ANSI (American National Standards Institute) tests and nine UL 2735 tests.

The utility also asked UL to conduct specialized tests for dust and water penetration, damp heat and extended overvoltage, which are believed to be the causes of meter failure in SaskPower's service territory.

The city said that as a result of the positive test results, the Energy Committee has recommended continuing with electric automated metering installations using the Sensus Gen 3 iConA metering products.

Gerry Labas, chief operating officer of the City of Medicine Hat, said: “The testing undertaken by Underwriters Laboratories was rigorous and thorough.

"The results prove these meters are suitable for our environment and our electrical system.”

The City council has since approved the recommendation and the City Utilities department is now installing the remaining 5% of its smart metering rollout.

(Pic credit: SaskPower)