A technician changing out a BC Hydro meter for a smart meter sparked a minor incident at a Port Alberni business on July 31.
The Port Alberni Fire Department responded to an incident at the 4600 block of Margaret Street at approximately 4:30 p.m.
Witnesses reported seeing a technician wearing blue overalls working on a meter beside a business when they heard a loud “Bzaap” sound and saw sparks coming from near the top of a power pole across the street, and smoke rising along one end of the power line.
The technician appeared from the side of the building and wasn’t hurt. “He (technician) told me that the inside of the old meter base crumbled in his hand when he was changing it out,” AV News employee Sonja Drinkwater said.
Firemen checked the building and the meter base and departed after finding no danger to the building or surrounding businesses.
Hydro and Corix personnel were joined by technicians from Evitt Electric for three hours as they repaired the damaged line and infrastructure. Power was cut to the block for a few minutes as Hydro crews conducted repairs.
Hydro spokesperson Greg Alexis confirmed the incident happened during an attempted meter swap out.
“But the smart meter was still in the box; it wasn’t installed yet,” he said.
This isn’t the first incident involving swapping out an old meter for a new one.
In May, a Corix technician swapping out an old meter for a new one caused a short in the meter base with one of his tools. The short caused a fire inside the wall and damaged the residence.
Corix Utilities has been contracted by BC Hydro to install 1.8 million smart meters throughout B.C. — 17,800 meters in Port Alberni.
Corix officials couldn’t be immediately reached for comment.
*Watch for developments to this story at www.albernivalleynews.com