New “Smart Meters” Can Overheat, Cause Fires

PECO to replace new technology because utility says new meters can overheat if hooked up to existing wiring that isn't up to date

PECO's smart-meter program was put on hold after 15 of the units overheated -- two causing fires, according to the power company.

PECO, like many other utilities, put in new meters that allow two-way communication between the customer and power company -- think of your home computer telling you it's time to install an update.

All 15 of the units that overheated were among about 186,000 units installed in Bucks County and parts of Northeast Philadelphia, PECO said.

The Upper Makefield Fire Marshall says a newly-installed smart meter recently put in by PECO caused the fire that made Mike Cappeto's Upper Makefield home unlivable.

“There was a hole in the side and a hole where the flames went up the side of the house," Cappeto said.

“PECO came in and took out the old charred box and meter. It was melted and just burned to a cinder."

An initial investigation of the first six cases investigated showed a problem occurred when the new smart meter was hooked up to a house that preexisting conditions at the home like bad wiring, PECO spokeswoman Cathy Engel Mendendez said.

“We want to understand what's going on and stop it regardless of the cause,” said Engel Mendendez.

PECO is installing new software into existing smart meters and replacing the bad meters with new meters from a different manufacturer.

“We have stopped installing devices to additional customers,” Engel Mendendez said.

PECO says that within two weeks all that new software will be installed in an attempt to try and pinpoint the problem.

If you have concerns or questions you can contact PECO online or call 1-855-741-9011.

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