Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Saskatchewan Revoked Exemption for Meter Contractor over Supervision Issue

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Saskatchewan Revoked Exemption for Meter Contractor over Supervision Issue

Article excerpt

Meter installers lacked supervision: official

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REGINA - A senior official in Saskatchewan says a supervision problem prompted the government to revoke an exemption that allowed a SaskPower contractor to use workers who weren't electricians to install smart meters.

Mike Carr, who is the deputy minister for Labour Relations and Workplace Safety, says several months after the exemption for Pennsylvania-based Grid One Solutions was approved in July 2013, his department began having concerns.

Carr didn't have specific details about what specifically was wrong with Grid One's supervision, but he says an officer's inspection in early 2014 showed there wasn't "appropriate supervision of the workers."

The exemption was revoked in February 2014 and Grid One's employees were then hired by SaskPower.

Carr says that was acceptable to his department because it meant SaskPower would be in charge of supervising the workers.

The Opposition NDP says documents show there were several incidents of smart meter malfunctions in August 2013 when SaskPower used non-electricians to install the devices.

The province announced Friday the Crown Investment Corporation will head an investigation into the smart meter program, which SaskPower has halted following eight fires between May and July of this year.

Carr said the workers were trained for the installations and there were no reports to the province of any workers being injured.

He said his department was concerned only with worker safety -- he said he couldn't comment on the quality or the competency of the installations.

"It's the responsibility of the project owners and the employer to ensure that the work is performed up to standards and that it meets the specifications of the work while maintaining the safety of homeowners and the public. There's a very clear division of responsibilities here," Carr said.

No one from Grid One Solutions could be reached for comment on Saturday.

Sensus, the company which manufactured the smart meters, stressed in a news release earlier this month that careful installation and training of meter installers is critical. …

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