Developing Scandal: Federal Lawsuit Confirms Problems with FP&L ‘Smart’ Meter Installations…

burndamageFPL was in a “panic mode” over the number of meter can repairs needed and “not open to any ideas other then their own.”

Installers “took 20 seconds” to install the key device mediating electric service to FP&L customers’ homes!

As CHASM has said all along, FP&L was aware of problems with its so-called “smart” meters hurriedly and recklessly installed by the contractors it hired, “on the cheap,” to do the work. Then, when problems became evident, FP&L has denied that any problems existed! Even worse, it has continued to deny any and all liability — and to blame homeowners — for problems triggered by the “smart” meters, where no such problems existed PRIOR TO the “smart” meter installation.

The Florida Public Service Commission (FPSC) is already aware, thanks to FP&L’s vague acknowledgement of “heat damage” problems, that real problems exist with this program. (See the archived “heat damage” links, below.)

CHASM asks: Will one or more Floridians have to die in fatal house fires triggered by inherently dangerous “smart” meters, before state regulators at the FPSC take serious action?

At the very least, ratepayers MUST be given the ability to REFUSE “smart” meters without any penalty. To be clear, ratepayers already possess this right, but shamefully, it is not being respected by either the FPSC or the utilities.

KEY POINTS:

A federal lawsuit filed against Honeywell over alleged improper installation of smart meters for Florida Power & Light Co. has revealed the following about the roll-out completed in 2013:

(read the CLASS ACTION COMPLAINT, here:
http://microwavechasm.org/?attachment_id=1493)

  • From 2005 through 2009 before the smart meter change-outs FPL knew of 950 customers who had meter cans requiring repair and replacement. Customers bore these costs.
  • After the smart meter change-outs, FPL knows of 13,050 customers who were required to make repairs to their meter cans at their own expense.
  • Honeywell’s electrical contractors Kilowatt Electric Co. and Ferran Services repaired more than 18,000 meter cans during and after the installations. Customers did not pay for the majority of these.
  • Tens of thousands of smart meter installations failed Honeywell’s “quality assurance checks.”
  • FPL does not know how many customers sought repairs to their meter cans without notifying FPL.
  • Honeywell subcontracted the installations to such companies as System One and Vanguard, now called Compass. Installers had just a few weeks training and were not licensed electricians. Some installers were paid by the hour, while others were paid per meter, which gave them incentive to rush through the job.
  • An installer who worked for Vanguard was suspended for two days without pay after speaking with media representatives while installing meters on Key Biscayne in 2010. The installer said everyone on his 40-person team installed 88 meters a day and each installation took “about 20 seconds.”
  • A top Honeywell official referred to the installers as “knuckleheads” and said in an email, “Bottom line is to hammer away at the knuckleheads until they understand or disappear.”
  • A Honeywell official said in an April 2011 email to another Honeywell employee that FPL was in a “panic mode” over the number of meter can repairs needed and “not open to any ideas other then their own.”

Read the CLASS ACTION COMPLAINT, here:
http://microwavechasm.org/?attachment_id=1493

CHASM has previously reported on these heat damage and/or dangerous installations here, here, here, here and here.

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FPL customers sue Honeywell over smart meter-related repairs [The Palm Beach Post, Fla.]
http://investing.businessweek.com/research/markets/news/article.asp?docKey=600-201409270001KRTRIB__BUSNEWS_54095_22484-1

Sept. 27–A federal lawsuit brought by two Florida Power & Light customers against Honeywell International claims that improper installation of smart meters caused them and at least 13,000 other customers to have to make costly repairs at their own expense.

Minnesota-based Honeywell Building Solutions was hired to install 4.5 million General Electric smart meters for FPL residential and small business customers throughout its 35-county territory. The $800 million roll-out began in 2009 and was completed March 2013.

Smart meters, part of Juno Beach-based FPL’s grid modernization, can be read remotely. Customers with the meters can view their energy consumption online by the month, day or hour.

Neither FPL or GE are named in the case scheduled to go to trial in March in federal court in Miami.

Emails, depositions and other documents filed in the case made new information public about the smart meter project. According to the court records, Honeywell officials expressed surprise at the wide-ranging scope of repairs needed to the cans that house the meters and said in emails in April 2011 it was “time to hit FPL for some more money” for administering the repairs.

Lissys Cortes and David Knight, two homeowners in southwest Miami, filed a lawsuit seeking class action status for FPL customers who had to pay for new meter cans and damage to their homes.

The lawsuit claims that Honeywell was negligent in its meter installations. Among the allegations are that Honeywell did not warn of the risks associated with the installations and did not train and supervise installers properly.

On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Cecilia Altonaga ruled against the customers and said they do not qualify for certification as a class. The plaintiffs still have the right to appeal that ruling, and the two customers’ claims are pending.

Scott Wagner, attorney with Miami-based Bilzin Sumberg’s Litigation Group, which represents Honeywell, said Friday, “We are very happy with the ruling.”

The judge found that there could be other reasons for meter can failure besides the change-out, such as poor wiring.

Attorneys for Honeywell said in the filings that the customers’ claims are vague and insufficient to link anything Honeywell did to cause their damages.

Attorneys for Cortes and Knight did not return calls for comment.

Last year both Cortes and Knight paid Wiremasters Electric more than $1,000 to make repairs to meter cans after they experienced flickering lights and outages at their homes. In both cases smart meters were installed in 2011, and sparking from the new meters and electrical problems started after that. Both homeowners say in depositions filed in the case that their houses had no electrical issues before the new meters were installed.

Cortes also blamed the meter change-out for the failure of her central air conditioning and pool pump.

The lawsuit alleges that the installers would “strike the old meter with extreme force” to knock it loose. Then they would “strike the smart meter with extreme force to install it in place of the old meter.” Installers did the job that should have taken at least 5 minutes in 90 seconds, the suit said.

FPL allotted $1.5 million for repairs to customers’ meter cans done at the time of the smart meter installation or within six months of it, with a few exceptions. FPL has said that normally the cost of replacing meter enclosures is borne by the customer when it must be replaced due to obsolescence or wear.

In 1987, at FPL’s request, state regulators transferred ownership of meter boxes to customers.

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FPL customers sue Honeywell over smart meter-related repairs
http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/business/fpl-customers-sue-honeywell-over-smart-meter-relat/nhWpb/
Posted: 5:19 p.m. Friday, Sept. 26, 2014
By Susan Salisbury – Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

A federal lawsuit brought by two Florida Power & Light customers against Honeywell International claims that improper installation of smart meters caused them and at least 13,000 other customers to have to make costly repairs at their own expense.
Minnesota-based Honeywell Building Solutions was hired to install 4.5 million General Electric smart meters for FPL residential and small business customers throughout its 35-county territory. The $800 million roll-out began in 2009 and was completed March 2013.

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Plaintiffs Denied Class Cert. In Honeywell Electric Meters Row

[CHASM NOTE: JUDGE’S RULING, HERE:
http://microwavechasm.org/?attachment_id=1492 ]

http://www.law360.com/energy/articles/580614/plaintiffs-denied-class-cert-in-honeywell-electric-meters-row
By Nathan Hale

Law360, Miami (September 24, 2014, 8:25 PM ET) — A Florida federal judge on Wednesday found plaintiffs’ claims insufficient to meet the prerequisites for class certification in a lawsuit alleging negligence against Honeywell International Inc. and a subsidiary over its installation of smart electric meters at the homes of Florida Power & Light customers.

Plaintiffs Lissys Cortes and David Knight brought the suit after FPL refused to reimburse them for repairs needed after Honeywell’s workers allegedly improperly replaced the analog electric meters on their homes with Smart Meters, damaging the connections and allegedly causing electrical…

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