New meters not to blame for fires, PECO says

    A spate of electrical house fires in Bucks County is not the fault of PECO, according to a representative of the utility, which is in the process of installing new “smart” energy meters.

    The meters are being installed in homes across the state by PECO as part of a 2008 mandate that requires utility companies to improve energy efficiency. But fire marshals in some Bucks County communities says it’s possible the meters have a design flaw that causes them to overheat and catch fire.

    Existing home electrical systems are likely the root of the problem, says Cathy Engel-Menendez, a PECO spokeswoman. She added that the safety of customers is paramount.

    “Our primary focus always has been and always will be safety,” she said Tuesday. “There’s not a one-size-fits-all answer to this. That’s why our process of continuing to evaluate all of the meters as they are installed and continuing to be nimble and adjust our plan as we move forward with the bottom line goal of keeping our customers safe is really the plan of attack.”

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    So far 13 fires have been reported out of 186,000 homes where meters were replaced in Bucks and Northeast Philadelphia since March.

    PECO encourages concerned customers to call 855-741-9011 to have an inspector come out and check their equipment free of charge.

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