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Smart meters fail at an alarming rate

Smart meters fail at an alarming rate

If the old “cylinder” counters can last more than 25 years, then the new so-called “smart” devices have a much shorter life. Hydro-Québec has learned that it has had to replace more than 300,000 of them, many of which were defective, over the past three years. Newspaper.

This is an accelerating phenomenon. In 2018, the government company changed 112,000 meters, has already informed Newspaper.

But in 2019, that number rose to 127,000. In 2020, the total was 59,000, due to the arrival of COVID-19.

Then, last year, Hydro replaced 120,000 of its new, mostly “smart” meters, including a batch of 23,000 AXI-type meters that were defective.

“For these, it was a manufacturing defect. The meters broke and no longer transmit consumption data. They were either repaired or replaced, and it was the manufacturer that took on the costs,” explained company spokeswoman Sendrix Bouchard.

Pour l’année en cours, Hydro-Québec prévoit changer 13 000 compteurs du fabricant Landis + Gyr (qui fournit 80 % de tous les appareils), seulement neuf ans après leur installation en 2013. Ces compteurs avaient pourtant une de durée de vie years.

Crown explains that after 10 years, Measurement Canada asks to randomly check installed meters. According to the results, Hydro removes those that “need replacement”.

“It’s a bit like a car repair. The meters can continue to be used for another 8 years. […] In terms of proportions, this is not abnormal. We are talking about 13,000 meters out of a million installed that year,” explains Mr. Bouchard.

Not “lemon,” says Hydro

This means that the state company will replace 8% of all its meters in a fleet of 4 million, in just over three years. Hydro says there are several reasons for these replacements, but 56% of the cases were for faulty hardware, which casts doubt on the reliability of their system.

We are talking about advanced technologies, not talking about lemons. There may be operational issues, that’s for sure. […] But thanks to these counters, it allows us to have tools such as dynamic pricing and Hilo, assures Mr. Bouchard.

These changes included costs of $25 million over 10 years for labor alone. However, Hydro was unable to detail the costs of changing the meter after the manufacturer’s warranty.

Despite our frequent calls, Landis + Gear did not answer our questions.

“I think there are questions to ask with the manufacturer that Hydro has chosen. Is it the same everywhere? asks Dominic Champagne, president of SCFP 2000, which represents employees who replace the meters.

“Should we review our contracts? He said in an interview with Newspaper.

Electricity meters in a nutshell

  • exist 4 million Of the Hydro-Québec meters in operation, most are supplied by the manufacturer Switzerland Landis + Gear
  • in three years, 300,000 Counters must be replacing
  • in 56% They were cases defective

The ‘Center of Excellence’ is no longer sustainable

In 2011 Hydro-Québec embarked on the smart meter adventure and awarded the contract to manufacturer Landis + Gyr, which resulted in the refusal to pass Varitron in Quebec.

The selected Swiss company, which has no employees in Quebec, has promised to create a center of excellence with 75 employees. At the time, Hydro CEO Thierry Vandal hailed the decision, the “best choice” for Quebec.

After more than ten years, Newspaper He wanted to know the true benefits of this Center of Excellence.

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“I don’t really have a lot of details. It’s a center of excellence independent of us.” Hydro spokeswoman, Cendrix Bouchard, explained that Landis + Gear implemented it, so we’ll have to check it out.

No answer

call him NewspaperThe Swiss manufacturer did not answer our questions. A few years ago, a Quebec spokesperson was hired by the company, but that is no longer the case.

According to the business register, there is still a branch of Landis + Gyr, in Longueuil, chemin de la Savane. There will always be between one and five employees.

No more tracking

But when you pass register In the indicated address, there is no trace of the manufacturer or any “center of excellence”. A construction company now has a storefront there.

How many employees have been hired over the years? hard to say. In 2013, during a previous audit, there was only one employee at the site. At that time, we had promised to hire at least 25 people.

As for Varitron, the company was sold to an American company in 2021.

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