12/17/2014 12:31 EST | Updated 02/16/2015 05:59 EST

SaskPower reports smart-meter failure similar to nine previous ones

WHITE CITY, Sask. - Saskatchewan's Crown utility is investigating another smart-meter failure after one of the devices overheated and melted on Tuesday.

SaskPower spokesman Tyler Hopson said a smart meter failed in the White City area, east of Regina.

He added it's similar to the failure of nine other devices earlier this year.

"All damage was contained to the meter. There is no damage to the customer’s home or property," he said in an email.

Last summer, the province ordered SaskPower to remove more than 100,000 of the newer models that had been installed, after reports of fires related to the devices.

Hopson said 65 per cent of the meters have been removed and the process will be completed by March 15 at the latest.

Saskatchewan's Crown Investment Corp. was directed to do a review after the fires. It found that rain water and contaminants getting into the meters appeared to contribute to their failure.

The report said customer safety wasn't enough of a priority.

"In various parts of the province, eight meters failed catastrophically, melting or burning and in some cases damaging the sides of houses," the report said. The failures were not related to "hot sockets" or installation issues, it added.

The report also said SaskPower failed to look at the possibility that meters could short out and catch fire.

It said the utility looked at 359 returns and found that 18 smart meters were burned and were no longer operational. Three more had high temperature errors, while 107 had display problems and 67 showed error codes.

The Opposition has been criticizing the government for its response to the safety issues and has called for the resignation of Economy Minister Bill Boyd, who is also the minister responsible for SaskPower.

The CEO and president of SaskPower, Robert Watson, resigned as a result of the issue. Boyd said Watson has taken responsibility for the project's shortfalls.

Hopson said SaskPower customers may request a priority exchange if they are concerned about their smart meters.

— By Clare Clancy in Regina