A scathing report, a high profile resignation and a promise to do better were all part of the latest developments Monday in SaskPower’s ongoing smart meter debacle.
The government says it takes the findings of a review very seriously and will act on all recommendations.
The most damning part of the report concludes public safety was not given enough of a priority when the Crown power utility moved to install smart meters.
SaskPower Minister Bill Boyd says he accepts the findings of the report and also made a surprise announcement on the future of SaskPower President Robert Watson at the same time.
“He offered his resignation and it was accepted,” he says. “He has accepted full responsibility and we believe that concludes it.”
The faulty smart meters are blamed for eight home fires last June and July.
Moisture getting inside of the housing of the meters is believed to be the likely cause.
The review also finds SaskPower ignored advice to buy small batches of the meters, install them gradually and watch for problems.
Instead, the power corporation bought more than 100,000 smart meters and moved ahead with a full-scale installation program.
The review finds many other shortcomings as well, including a lack of oversight on the overall project and failure to act on warning signs that the smart meters posed potential problems.
The NDP opposition calls the report damning.
Regina MLA Trent Wotherspoon says even though the report outlines a number of major concerns, he would still like to see the provincial auditor conduct a separate review.
“As damning as this report is of government, it is still critically important to us at this time to have the full scope and the full trust that all aspects have been considered,” he says.
Crown Investments Minister Don McMorris says all the recommendations of the report will be implemented and the lessons learned will be shared with other Crown corporations.
Meanwhile, work continues on the removal of more than 100,000 smart meters installed on homes around the province.
All of this work is scheduled to be completed no later than Mar. 15 of next year.