By Devin Rose
The Illinois Commerce Commission asked Commonwealth Edison Co. for more information last week about fires — including two in River Forest and one in Berwyn — that were connected to smart meters, according to Crain's Chicago Business.
The meters were installed as part of a pilot program that led to passage of the "smart grid" law in Illinois last year, the Crain's article said. The first River Forest fire occurred in June 2010 and the ICC learned about it in September of that year. The other two occurred in 2011 and 2012. Investigations showed they were caused by faulty connections inside the homes and not malfunctions in the meters themselves, the article said.
A similar incident, Aug. 12, in Pennsylvania, led Philadelphia electric company Peco Energy Co., which, like ComEd, is also owned by Chicago-based Exelon Corp., to stop installation of smart meters while it investigates the fire's cause.
A total of 18 smart meters have exhibited higher-than-normal heat conditions, ComEd said in a statement to Crain's, according to the article.
The meters were designed to provide ComEd with real-time information on customer usage and outages in 130,000 homes and businesses as part of the pilot program approved by the ICC in 2009. According to Crain's, ComEd had planned to begin deploying the meters throughout the service area in Northern Illinois after the smart grid law was enacted. The law authorized annual rate hikes over 10 years to cover the $2.6 billion cost of modernizing the local electrical grid. The meters cost more than $1 billion.