Letter to Sun-Sentinel re: FP&L Latest “Smart” Meter Enclosure Fraud

CHASM thanks Marilynne Martin for sharing her brilliant letter to a newspaper journalist.  

Ms. Hemlock,

I came across your article today that was written on July 7, 2013 (http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/2013-07-07/business/fl-fpl-smart-meter-enclosures-20130705_1_fpl-smart-meters-public-counsel) and just shook my head. Is investigative reporting dead? Has every profession been dumbed down? Is no one in America able to critically think anymore?

In the article you state “FPL denies overheating with its type of meters and claims that the few incidents reported at its boxes came from loose wires, rusty metal and other problems that existed before new meters were installed.” Do you not see the problem? Let me explain.

FP&L, under Order PSC-11-0194-DS-EI, was required to inspect the meter enclosures and repair/replace them BEFORE installing the new smart meter. They recognized up front that some of the enclosures would not be in the condition to handle the new network management and communication equipment they call a “smart meter” and they also recognized that the process of switching out a meter can cause damage to the enclosure. These repairs were to be done at no cost to the customer.

FP&L has stated that they “successfully” completed their deployment of 4.5 million smart meters. For them to turn around months afterwards and claim these “problems existed before the new meters were installed” is in de-facto stating they did not fulfill their obligations under PSC-11-0194-DS-EI for all their customers.

The reason we have meter enclosures and smart meters failing so quickly after installation is because of the negligence of both the Commission Staff and FP&L. FP&L did not use trained licensed electricians to do the inspections. Obviously some of these two-week trained installers did not do a good job in inspecting the meter enclosures so they are failing. See attached advertisement on Craig’s List and review the “qualifications” and tell Florida residents why it was appropriate for the Commission to  allow unqualified workers to inspect our meter enclosures. A Florida resident is NOT allowed to get some unlicensed handyman to change out a meter enclosure. Why was FP&L not required to use licensed electrical contractors?

FP&L and the Commission has put every resident in an awful position of “responsibility without authority” by forcing these new untested defective meters on the public. We have responsibility for the enclosures but no authority to determine what is allowed to go in them and how it must be done.

In addition, don’t be fooled, this pilot test is a cover-up. FP&L has some quirks in their network and they are using this as an excuse to poke around. If the meter enclosure is bad like they say why is the meter still functioning? In their responses to Staff’s Data requests they state so. The meter portion of the “smart meter” is still working but the communication component is not.

A “smart meter” is not a meter. It is “Network Management and Communication” Equipment that contains a meter. Who’s to say that their communication network that they set up on our homes is not causing problems with our enclosures? Are the standard meter enclosures that residents have today built to handle this added functionality? Are they compatible? So many questions, so few answers.

Selling this “predictive tool” as another benefit of smart meters/grid is fraud against the people.


Marilynne Martin
Venice, FL


Additional detail to this issue is posted here:

Marilynne Martin says:
July 10, 2013 at 7:34 am
Although the utilities claim in their literature with consumers that smart meters are safe and do not cause fires, they argue different things with their regulators.

Florida Power & Light, as an example, filed a Petition for declaratory statement regarding the repair and replacement of meter enclosures for smart meters on Jan 19, 2011 (filing can be found here http://www.floridapsc.com/dockets/cms/docketFilings3.aspx?docket=110033.

In such filing they argue “As FPL installs the smart meters, in a very small percentage of cases (less than 0.4%) the Company encounters situations where meter enclosures are functional prior to the removal of the existing electromechanical meter and may have continued to function without a problem for many years to come, but during the course of the change-out the existing meter enclosure needs to be repaired or replaced in order to safely and efficiently install the new smart meter in a manner that will help to assure safe and reliable service to the customer. The need to repair or replace the affected meter enclosures occurs in two distinct situations. First, during the course of the meter change-out the existing functional meter enclosure is damaged and must be repaired or replaced in order to safely and efficiently install the new smart meter in a manner that will help to assure safe and reliable service to the customer into the future. In the second scenario, the Company cannot say with certainty that the existing functional meter enclosure is clearly damaged by the removal of the existing meter or the installation of the new smart meter. However, as a result of the meter change-out there is enough doubt about the continued viability of the existing meter enclosure that the Company exercises its judgment and errs on the side of repairing or replacing the meter enclosure. This action is taken as part of the system wide installation of smart meters and represents an effort to avoid a situation where the individual customer experiences problems with the meter and/or meter enclosure within a relatively short time following the change-out. Accordingly, the Company does not believe that the individual customer should be responsible for the costs associated with this work.”

Now fast forward to June 6, 2013. FP&L does another filing, see http://www.floridapsc.com/dockets/cms/docketFilings3.aspx?docket=130160

FP&L has completed their deployment of 4.5 million smart meters. They were supposed to inspect each meter enclosure and do repairs prior to installing the new smart meter to ensure they were safe to install. Per media reports they repaired 180,000 meter enclosures. see http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/business/fpl-contends-customers-must-pay-equipment-costs-co/nYc2C/

Now they find that some of their smart meters have stopped communicating. They shut down, possibly due to overheating. They want to do a study of 400 meters. They want to develop a “predictive tool” so in the future they can send customer notices that their meter enclosures need replacement – fix it or we shut off your electricity (IMHO).

We have been successful in getting the Florida Office of Public Counsel to intervene in this new filing. Hopefully we can stop the rubber stamping of the FPSC and get some answers. But it appears that our meter enclosures are not all compatible with the new smart meters. It seems that this should have come out before the project was started. New meter enclosures should have been recommended. But if you add the cost of new meter enclosures into the cost/benefit analysis it would most likely lead to a no/go decision, right? So just ignore it.

Those who don’t yet have smart meters in their states/towns need to surface this issue during the debate. Older meter boxes create a safety issue. It’s in black and white in these FP&L filings, make them address it before they start deploying.

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