COLLINGWOOD, Ont. – Veronica Onyskiw woke up to the sound of her dog growling and a loud noise like a revving engine coming from outside her Collingwod, Ont., home early in the morning last Sunday.
She found the source when she went outside — her hydro smart meter had become a “ball of fire.”
“The meter is about three feet from the main gas line into the house,” she said outside her home Wednesday. “If that wall had gone and then the car parked right beside it would’ve been very, very bad.”
Thousands of smart meters attached to homes across the province were ordered removed earlier this year after similarities were found between the structure of those meters and a similar model used in Saskatchewan that was implicated in several fires in that province.
Onyskiw’s meter was not among those considered a fire threat.
Larry Irwin, the vice-president of the local utility — Collus PowerStream — said the company has never used those meters.
Onyskiw said she has been told that the way in which the meter was installed on her home might be to blame.
If that’s the case, it’s just as much cause for alarm, she said.
In her case, firefighters put out the flames, and nobody was injured and there was no structural damage. But a happy ending might not be repeated for the next person.
“There are people all over this town with wood structures and they have these so-called smart meters attached to their houses,” she said. “I really think this is a very serious threat … I think it’s something people should know about.”
Collus said it is investigating.
Smart meters have been the target of criticism since the province ordered them installed on homes across Ontario several years ago.
In a December report, the auditor general found the $1.9-billion rollout cost has not led to the expected savings to customers.
A Hydro One sale will likely kill a planned review of the program.
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- Budget passing sets stage for Hydro One sale
On Wednesday, the majority Liberal government passed the 2015 budget bill, which allows for the sale of up to 60% of the publicly owned entity, starting with a 15% stake.
“The passage of this budget reaffirms the steps that will be taken in order to broaden the ownership of Hydro One and reinvest some of the proceeds into infrastructure,” Finance Minister Charles Sousa said shortly after the vote. “I’m pleased that we’re taking a long-term view … that builds our economy, creates jobs.”
As a sign of their strong opposition, NDP Leader Andrea Horwath and her caucus stood with their backs turned to the government as they voted against the budget bill.
“She’s the only premier in the history of this province that has to sell off our essential public asset, Hydro One, in order to invest in infrastructure and transportation,” Horwath said. “We’re going to continue to pressure the government.”
The NDP leader has scheduled a media conference for Thursday to demand a public referendum on Hydro One’s future.
Horwath urged Ontarians to make their voices heard if they want to keep Hydro One in public hands.
“I would hope that this premier doesn’t see herself as a dictator and instead sees herself as a leader of a province that is still a democracy,” Horwath said. “And that she actually listens to the people of Ontario.”
Progressive Conservative finance critic Vic Fedeli said the Tories tried to show the Liberal government the “folly” of a Hydro One fire sale, but it refused to entertain any of their legislative amendments to mitigate the damage.
“It’s all because they’re broke,” Fedeli said. “We have a $10.5-billion deficit and this is all about selling hydro to restore the coffers.”
While the Wynne government has stated that $4 billion from the sale will be used to fund infrastructure improvements such as new transit or roads, the Tories argue that the manoeuvre is a “shell game” to balance the budget.
The main effect of the budget on average Ontarians will be felt in hydro bills, as the government takes money out of the electricity system through the Hydro One deal, Fedeli said.
“Of course, they’re going to collect $100 million from a new beer tax, the aviation fuel tax will go up for those who can still afford to fly in Ontario,” he said. “Where you’ll really feel it is that your hydro bill is going to go up.”
Homeowner Warning on Smart Meters
A Collingwood woman is warning homeowners about the dangers of Smart Meters.
Veronica Onyskiw lived through a frightening night on May 31st when the Smart Meter on her home caught fire and melted.
She heard a number of pops that sounded like fireworks going off, and saw flames shooting out of the Hydro meter at the side of her house.
Onyskiw tells Bayshore Broadcasting news if her home was made of wood instead of brick the result could have been horrific, because a Natural gas meter was only about 3 feet away.
She says Collus Powerstream replaced the Smart Meter with a new one within 48 hours, telling her there was no option for any other type of meter.
A company official told her that the problem was not the Smart Meter but perhaps the installation.
He told her the receptacle on the home was not designed for a digital meter.
Onyskiw says it was Collus who installed the Meter and the company should have told her in 2013 that a different base was needed.
When the homeowner told the Collus employee that, he responded people don’t want to hear they need a new receptacle on their home.
Onyskiw has been told the Smart Meter that caught fire is made by the same company that had issues with Meters out west, although they are different models.
She wonders how many more are ready to burst into flames around Ontario.
The Collingwood woman has had wiring replaced by an electrician out to the meter and says is unclear if all the bricks will have to be replaced on one side of the house.
Onyskiw also hasn’t heard if the maker of the Smart Meter or Collus Powerstream will pay for the damage.
RADIO : Smart Meters are EXPLODING! Homeowner Veronica Onyskiw discusses – Jun 4th 2015
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