From The Sip Trunking Experts

TMCNet:  Peco to resume smart-meter installations with new manufacturer

[October 10, 2012]

Peco to resume smart-meter installations with new manufacturer

Oct 10, 2012 (The Philadelphia Inquirer - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Peco announced Tuesday that it would resume its ambitious smart-meter installation program after pulling the plug on a manufacturer whose devices had been linked to a series of fires.

The utility suspended the $650 million program in August after several incidents in which the electronic devices overheated and caught fire. Two of the incidents resulted in serious house fires, though none resulted in injuries.

Peco hired Underwriters Laboratories (UL) and two independent consultants to examine the meters. Their reports convinced the utility to swap out all the meters manufactured by Sensus Metering Systems Inc. of Raleigh, N.C., with those made by a Swiss vendor, Landis & Gyr A.G.

"We determined that the L&G meter is the best solution for Peco customers, that it performed better in the field, and that was confirmed by testing," said Cathy Engel Menendez, Peco's spokeswoman.

At the time it suspended installations, Peco had deployed 201,642 meters, including 186,000 Sensus devices. Since August, it has replaced about half the Sensus meters with L&G devices.

Peco said it would replace the remaining 96,000 Sensus meters during the next 45 days and would then resume its installation program. Customers will be notified by mail and phone before a new meter is installed.

The utility hopes the decision to swap out the Sensus meters will restore confidence in the program's safety. Peco also promises to fully test any new meter models used in the future.

"We have taken unprecedented steps to test our meters," Peco president Craig Adams said in a statement.

The decision is a setback for the utility's plan to update its electric distribution system, which is supported by a $200 million federal smart-grid grant. Under the stimulus grant, Peco promised to install 600,000 smart meters by April 2014.

Utilities across the nation are installing digital smart meters to replace analog devices. The industry has installed about 40 million advanced meters, including 10 million Sensus devices.

The new-generation meters are equipped for two-way communication with the utility, allowing for more sophisticated grid management and outage control. The devices also generate constant readings, allowing suppliers to offer hourly pricing to customers who want to shift their consumption to cheaper off-peak hours.

But the new technology has spawned spirited opposition from customers who fear the wireless transmissions are unhealthy and the meter data might be misused. Regulators dismiss the concerns, but feared that Peco's misadventures would strengthen opponents.

Peco is in an awkward relationship with Sensus, one of the nation's leading meter makers. Sensus designed the communications infrastructure that is at the core of Peco's smart-grid project and, though its meters will no longer be used, it remains employed by Peco as a lead contractor.

Peco was careful not to blame the meters for the fires, but by ditching the Sensus devices, the implication is that it believes the firm's devices are more susceptible to electrical overloads.

A Sensus spokesman said the company was disappointed, but insisted its devices are safe. Sensus has installed nationwide two million of the same model that Peco had bought.

"All of the investigations we've seen have proven, the meter is not the problem, the Sensus meter is not a problem," said Randolf Wheatley, the company's vice president of corporate marketing.

Sensus maintains that the incendiary Peco meters and others that caught fire in Texas, Georgia, California, and Canada were all tied to faulty installations -- loose connections in the sockets into which the meter is plugged, which leads to electrical resistance, overheating and a meter meltdown.

Peco says it is negotiating with Sensus over which company will absorb the expense of swapping out 186,000 meters. If Peco pays, the utility could seek to recover the extra cost from customers, said Engel Menendez.

Peco and other Pennsylvania utilities are required to install the smart meters under the 2008 state energy conservation law known as Act 129.

The Public Utility Commission, which has strongly endorsed plans to migrate to smart meters, commended Peco at a meeting in September for moving proactively to get the program under control. But the PUC could punish the utility if it finds that Peco violated any rules.

"The PUC is continuing with its review of Peco's actions surrounding the installation and failures of its advanced meters," Jennifer Kocher, the commission's spokeswoman, said Tuesday.

"The decision to suspend the installation was self-imposed, as is the decision to restart the installations," she said. "We will be monitoring the installations as part of our review." Peco did not immediately release the results of its independent tests, which were conducted by Exponent Engineering & Scientific Consulting, of Menlo Park, Calif., and the National Electric Energy Testing Research and Applications Center (NEETRAC), which is affiliated with Georgia Tech.

As part of its response to the fires, Peco installed new software so the meters shut down automatically if they overheat.

"Customers can be assured if there's any kind of emergency, their meter has the capability to send us an alarm and to shut down," said Engel Menendez.

Customers with concerns about their smart meters can call Peco at 855-741-9011.

Contact Andrew Maykuth at 215-854-2947, @Maykuth on Twitter or

___ (c)2012 The Philadelphia Inquirer Visit The Philadelphia Inquirer at Distributed by MCT Information Services

[ Back To SIP Trunking Home's Homepage ]

Subscribe here for your FREE
SIP TRUNKING enewslettter.

Featured Partner

Featured Whitepapers

SIP Security for the Enterprise
Voice over IP (VoIP) is incorporated into a variety of computer networks, both public and private, and used for everyday transactions and communications among carriers, businesses, government agencies...

Making A Broadband Purchase Decision
Businesses today have many options for broadband connectivity. Clarifying your particular business needs prior to selecting a broadband provider will ensure an optimal match of broadband service to your requirements.

Voice-Optimized Network Delivers Premier Call Experience
Customers equate call quality with business quality. Real-time communication, interpersonal interaction, and the cordial tone of a call center representative can create a positive impression of your business that no email can match.

Featured Case Studies

Business Telecom Expenses Reduced 50%
A small to medium sized company in the midwest was interested in migrating to IP Communications, but in today's economy, they were hesitant to upgrade their communication system due to their perception that the cost would outweigh the benefits.

Multi-State Company Cuts Telecom Costs 50%
A multi-site, multi-state company with extensive monthly long distance fees and toll-free charges did not have adequate broadband for Broadvox SIP Trunking requirements, nor did they have a SIP enabled telephone system.

Discover Leisure Connects Remote Users to its IP-PBX
Discover Leisure is one of the largest resellers of caravans and motor homes in the UK. With 15 branch of?ces all over the country, the company spent a great deal of money every month just on internal phone calls.

Featured eBOOKS

Internet+: The Way Toward Global Unified Communication
Connecting the telephony of the enterprise PBX or Unified Communications (UC) system using SIP trunks instead of conventional telephone lines has been very successful in recent years.

What is SIP Trunking? Edition 2
SIP trunking is becoming more of a focus for service providers. One key issue many service providers face when deploying SIP trunks is NAT, or Network Address Translation, traversal.

What is SIP Trunking? Edition 1
A vast resource for information about all things SIP - including SIP, security, VoIP, SIP trunking and Unified Communications.

Featured Videos

Broadvox VAR Testimonial VAR 1:
Part 1 of the VAR (Value Added Reseller) Partner Program Testimonials for Broadvox...

E-SBCs AS The Demarcation Point:
Ingate's Steve Johnson talks to Erik Linask about the role session border controller plays as the demarcation point at...

Demystifying DPI
How can deep packet inspection protect your SIP traffic as well as your entire network?

Featured Resources

Partner Program Overview:
Over 4,000 VARs, Master Agents, Solution Providers, and Independent IT Professionals trust Broadvox. We offer customized services and solutions to fit seamlessly into any company's business model. And when you partner with Broadvox, every member of our team stands behind you and your customers 100%...

SIP Trunk UC Summit

What's New

Presenting the New Ingate/Intertex Website:
Internet+ is an extended Internet access allowing high quality SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) based real-time person-to-person communication, everywhere and for any application. It applies to both fixed and mobile networks ...

Featured Blogs

Featured Webinars

Secure SIP Trunking:
What You Need to Know

Successfully Deploying Enterprise SIP Trunking:
Tools and Techniques for Overcoming Common Roadblocks

Featured Podcasts

Getting the Most Out of Your SIP Trunks:
Ingate's Steve Johnson and TMC's Erik Linask discuss how best practices forgetting the most out of SIP Trunking services and common pitfalls to avoid.

Featured Datasheets

Ingate SIParator E-SBCs
Adopting SIP is a simple process with the Ingate SIParator, the secure enterprise session border controller (E-SBC). The SIParator makes secure SIP communications - including VoIP,SIP trunking and more - possible while working seamlessly with your existing network firewall.

Ingate Firewalls
Everyone is talking about enterprise usage of VoIP, instant messaging and other types of realtime communications including presence and conferencing.

SIP Trunk Solutions for Service Providers
The award-winning Ingate Firewall and Ingate SIParator deliver a high quality, reliable SIP trunk connection between the customer's IP-PBX and the service provider network, and solve interoperability issues to simplify deployments and support for remote diagnosis of reported issues.