Non-qualified electrical workers allowed to install smart meters, thanks to exemption
The government is using workers who are not qualified electrical workers to replace SaskPower and SaskEnergy meters with smart meters. With six fires resulting from meter swaps in just two months, the NDP wants the government to reconsider that policy.
The laws in Saskatchewan require a worker be a journeyman electrician or supervised apprentice to work with the voltage contained in electrical meters, but the government gave the smart meter project an exemption to the law so less-trained workers could remove the existing meters and install the new smart meters.
“We’re concerned that the government’s decision to do the work with less-qualified workers may be putting the safety of people and property at risk, including the safety of the installers,” said Cathy Sproule, the NDP’s critic for SaskPower.
The government’s exemption was initially given to Pennsylvania-based Grid One Solutions, to which the government contracted out the smart meter project. Because Grid One was using only subcontracted labour from Canada Manpower to install the meters, the exemption was challenged.
As a workaround to that concern, Grid One’s subcontracted workers were absorbed into SaskPower so Grid One could continue to use less-trained workers for meter removals and smart meter installations.
“Safety has to be the most important consideration,” said Sproule. “First the government gave out an exemption to the law, and now a workaround to the law through a scheme to absorb Grid One subcontracted workers into SaskPower. This government seems determined to plough ahead without consideration for how to make this project as safe as it could be. During the project’s halt, the government needs to consider again if this exemption is in the best interests of safety.”