August 1, 2014 6:43 pm
Updated: August 2, 2014 11:34 am

Smart meter fiasco needs independent probe: Broten

REGINA – The only way the opposition NDP leader believes we’ll find out just what happened with the failed smart meter program in Saskatchewan is through an independent investigation.

Cam Broten said Friday the provincial auditor is the only one with the authority to hold an open and transparent inquiry.

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Premier Brad Wall promised Thursday the government would find out if enough due diligence went into the smart meters.

But the investigation would be led by the province’s own Crown Investments Corporation (CIC).

Broten doesn’t believe the CIC would uncover all the answers.

“In order to have that happen, there needs to be a truly independent investigation, free from all political interference,” Broten said.

“The provincial auditor is the right person to do that job.”

There have been eight reported fires linked to smart meters and 105,000 units already installed are slated to be replaced with the older-style unit over the next six to nine months.

Smart meters were supposed to save $470 million over two decades, according to SaskPower.

Instead, the province’s electrical utility is on the hook for $47 million to $32 million for purchasing and deploying the smart meters and $15 million to replace them.

The government said that tab will be negotiated with the supplier, Sensus Corp., though no one has shared anything about those talks.

“Until we know the details around that, we don’t know how much can be recouped,” said Broten.

“Its is unacceptable for ratepayers to pick up the tab for this costly and dangerous error.”

The power company in Portland, Oregon, is in a similar position, trying to negotiate a replacement of 70,000 smart meters. Philadelphia’s utility did so two years ago and reached a settlement, saying its customers did not have to bear the cost.

Sensus Corp. has not responded to Global News for comment.

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