COMPLAINT: NS Power Inc., an Emera Corporation by @NSRasta #UARB #NSPowerInc

UPDATE: 2015/02/20 (Smart Meter near bottom)

HISTORY: On Monday, 29 September, 2003, Nova Scotia was hit by Hurricane Juan. When it made landfall, it became one of the most powerful and damaging hurricanes to ever affect Canada. Due to the overwhelming damage to homes, finding a contractor to make repairs to my house was impossible. I had been in the process of negotiating an estimate to put new siding on my home, but there was no chance of finding anyone for a very long time.

I had no choice, but to begin repairing myself, and as I installed the new siding near the electrical entrance, there were only two options:
– Call in an electrician (if available), and remove the meter and electrical mast (pole), and then install the new siding and replace the equipment, or
– leave the equipment untouched, and simply place siding around it in an aesthetically pleasing manner, while leaving the meter visible to be viewed by bimonthly Meter Reader employees of Nova Scotia Power (NSP) (an Emera corporation).

I carefully trimmed siding, in such a way, to leave the meter untouched and visible to be viewed at all times. There was no safety issue for the Meter Readers that NSP employs. Over the next 9 years, approximately 54 bimonthly readings were taken, by safety trained employees of the power corporation.

100_6894

VIOLATION NOTICE (which started my investigation and complaint)
On 6 September 2012, I received a notice in my mailbox, from an inspector of NSP, that read as follows:

Code Violation – 6-408 – Description: Metering Standards as per Canadian Electrical Code requires meter base to be free of any permanent obstruction to change or service meter devices as required by Regulator.

NOTE: The Canadian Electrical Code is not an easy manual to access, and it cannot be signed out at the public library. So, I took a fair amount of work and research, to find out what code I had violated. I found no such reference to code 6-408 that explained this necessary action. No electrical work had ever changed since the siding was done, so there was no new codes to follow or permits to obtain. The reporting inspector would not talk to me.

The notice continued to say:
All remedial work must be completed on or before 2012/10/06. Please contact the Local NSP District Office when the remedial work has been completed 428-6230

I immediately called the number provided, and asked to speak to the inspector who had signed the report. I was denied contact with him. When I informed the NSP telephone reception employee that I would not comply with anything, if I could not talk to the inspector who signed that report,  I was told, “in 30 days, my electrical power would be disconnected for failure to comply”. This started a never-ending fight.
(I even had to contact my Councillor to get dialogue started) *footnote

This was at a sensitive period for NSP, as they were appealing to the UARB regulators, to increase electrical power rates by 3 percent. I filed a complaint with the UARB, which got an immediate response by a lady from NSP Public Relations, to address the complaint. I insisted the inspector contact me, and again, was denied. After several attempts, a different inspector came to my home to talk to me. I took him to my meter, showed him the issue in question, and asked him what safety violation he was addressing, since the Electrical Code of Canada does not address this issue. I also discovered in my investigation, that the only piece of electrical equipment in my home that did not have to meet the CSA Standards, was the meter provided by the power corporation. (directly verified with the head office of the CSA)

While waiting for the inspector to contact me, I went to every available source of regulations listed by NSP, and found errors in their webpages, older regulations that were no longer in effect but still linked on their website. Further, their employees are trained in safety, including Meter Readers, and inspectors. When the inspector started quoting additional things, I asked if he received the same training as the previous inspector who refused to allow me to speak to him. This inspector had just returned from additional training that day, and I asked how these safety-trained Meter Readers, could have overlooked this issue more than 54 times in the past 9 years?

I would like to see the records of the Safety Training they received, both the meter readers, and the inspectors to verify they have taken the training that the webpage assures the public that they have received. Nothing was ever provided to me.

Nothing I could say would change the mind of this inspector. It was clearly (according to him) an unsafe condition that must be addressed. I could find no such regulation, and due to the lack of Safety Training records and differing opinions, I am not confident that he is in a position to be making such claims. He even implied that the sag of their power wires, might be caused by the power mast pole being pulled away from my home. You do not need any training to see that the 3 foot exit point from the top of the roof, does not even have a loose shingle, but the power wires have been pulled up and tightened several times over the years that I have been living here, unrelated to my equipment, but normal weather stretching and wear on the wires.  My neighbour has his power wires sagging on my garage roof.

The item quoted on the Canadian Electrical Code, does not read exactly as the inspector would have me believe:  EXCERPT from reference 6-408

6-408 Location of meters
(1) Meters and metering equipment shall be
(a) located as near as practicable to the service box except as provided for in Subrule (2);
(b) grouped where practicable;
(c) readily accessible;
(d) not located in coal bins, clothes closets, bathrooms, stairways, high ambient rooms, dangerous or hazardous locations, nor in any similar undesirable places;
(e) if mounted outdoors, of weatherproof construction or in weatherproof enclosures; and
(f) in compliance with the requirements of the supply authority.

NOTE:
(1 e) I am providing better protection from elements than they afford their own equipment.
(1 f) Requirements  may have changed several times since my siding work, or the original installation.
(
The utility provider, NSP,  might be acting on a whim, and not a safety concern)
While the inspector insists that ‘it is a safety concern’, none of the company’s Safety Training during the previous 9 years had been sufficient to detect this inspector’s urgent concern, prior to 2012. Perhaps they should put as much effort on their own Safety Management, as the requirements they are placing on their customers, and especially, ME!

What I believe:  Since I have clearly proven that this is not a safety concern (or, if it is,  NSP has a liability issue, for risking my safety all these years through improper training or neglect). The real reason,  (most likely) is that, without seeing the base of my meter, there exists a potential to hide a by-pass to the metering, which would rob the corporation of profits: the same profits they are spending to give ludacris raises to their own CEO, who competes with no one in the private ‘monopoly’ corporation.

All these pictures and even more information, were provided to the UARB regulators, since the Inspector that wrote the original violation, has yet to follow-up on his own report, or provide any communication with the customer. Perhaps he lacks the qualifications to defend his findings, and deferred that task to the second inspector, who was receiving additional training on the day he came to address the issue.  

The full meter extends beyond the siding, with only the base and collar not shown.

Showing intact seal, without any meter bypass

Shown to Inspector, verifying intact seal, and no meter bypass or tampering.

100_6896100_6897

Should the public know about this Profit over Safety interest? I think so. I didn’t want the grief of all this badgering and harassment by NSP, and this could have been resolved by simply walking away before they caused me all the research time and worry. Since they choose to be adamant and wrong, It becomes my responsibility to expose these problems within the NSP corporation, and file complaints with the regulators that allow them to control power rates. Perhaps if this continues, I may discover other Safety issues with their employees, unrelated to Meter Reading and Safety Training.

Mainstream media was contacted when I was refused contact with the inspector who left the non-compliance report in my mailbox, but no one seemed interested in reporting this infraction or the pathetic safety record of 9 years of failure to notice this, and for that reason, I have prepared this story for all to read. While this is my opinion, I have been trained to objectively audit such matters all my career.

This  may not reprinted or quoted by any media without my consent, as I provided that opportunity, and it did not interest them, when it was most timely, in 2012. If this becomes newsworthy now, you should ask, and I will decide who may reprint or interview for additional information.
It may be shared ‘as is’ via sharing buttons at the bottom, as a means to distribute this opinion and blog to others.

NSP: Nova Scotia Power Inc (Emera Corporation)
UARB: Nova Scotia Utility And Review Board
If you have a concern about NSP, this is where you file your complaint
CSA
Canadian Standards Association

QUALITY, COMPLIANCE, SAFETY AUDITOR

My Background:
I am a certified ISO 9000 auditor (Quality Standards) and have had extensive training in Compliance to Quality, Safety, and Environmental standards.
I have been employed as a member and adviser of Occupational Health and Safety boards. This required me to research Industrial standards for compliance and enforce adherence to  regulations in place. For several years, I provided reports to senior managers on risk management, adherence to regulatory bodies, and provided reports of non-compliance and follow-up to ensure shortcomings were addressed.

I am a 2nd class Power Engineer, and former (equiv) 1st class Marine Engineer, in propulsion, main, auxiliary and ancillary mechanical systems and power distribution.

Nova Scotia Power Inc. (Emera) should be able to easily establish who is making this complaint, or they have bigger issues at hand, such as record keeping, and personnel  management, and safety training. I have left my name out intentionally, as I have also left out the name of their employees, including the two Inspector’s names, and those who addressed, or failed to address my concerns.  If required, I can provide those names, and copies of the initial report, all correspondence, and replies and standards sent to me by the UARB.  They have taken this far enough, but may wish for me to continue; I leave that decision in the hands of their senior management to address: Get to the bottom of your personnel, training, and public relations issues, before you require me to provide personal shaming of the employees involved.

Feel free to have your inspector bring his training records, and those of the many Meter Readers over the past 10 years, that verify you are in compliance with the training you assure us is in place on your website.

Certified Electrical or Building Contractors are welcome to weigh in on this blog, if they believe I am in error in my findings. If you feel the structure of my roof is not strong enough to keep the mast in place, or if you believe there is a safety concern with the non-CSA approved meter, that would make it dangerous or non-compliant with codes. Bear in mind, there were no changes to the electrical connection since it was an approved installation at the time the home was built.

Meter Reader Safety 

At Nova Scotia Power, the safety of our people and our customers is always the number one priority. Our Safety Excellence Awards program is one of the ways we recognize employees and teams across the company for their outstanding contributions toward continued safety excellence throughout the year.” (via NSP website)

Nova Scotia Power employees, who have been working in my area have received awards of excellence (43 awards – ‘SAC’), and presumably, some who received these awards found no safety infractions or concerns since 2003, re-affirming that perhaps,  there is a failure of leadership and due diligence, possible neglect, or just mismanagement, if any of their employees received those awards in error.

Anticipating there might be an upgrade to Smart Meters, I mentioned that I could easily provide access for that installation, although I have my own safety concerns about the use of  ‘Smart Meter’ in the province of Nova Scotia, particularly since meters do not comply with CSA standards.

Smart meters will eliminate meter reader jobs (first-line safety management taken away?) and come with various concerns, of Cost, Safety, Interference, Health Risks, Fire Hazard and Privacy concerns. I WOULD URGE YOU TO PERUSE THE LINK PROVIDED! It would take three more blogs to provide as many links as you might obtain by yourself with the use of Google, as this was just a random sampling of consumer concerns available.

Here’s what a Fire Captain (someone with considerable expertise in Fire Safety) says:
Matt Beckett is a fire captain, who replaced all electrical devices in his home (All home electrical devices must be Safety Approved). and then his Smart Meter caught fire.  BC Hydro states that all their Smart Meters are certified by Measurement Canada and Industry (NOT CSA). CSA has had numerous concerns and inquiries about Smart Meters, and Measurement and Calibration testing is not the same standard as Canadian Safety Association (CSA).
Smart Meters have been reported to elevate electrical costs, because they measure the electrical distribution in either direction (IE: If you had a Wind Generator supplementing your electrical power, any overage could feed the power grid, but still calculate the power you generated as billable, because it measures the amount across the meter in either direction.)
STOP SMART METERS
Consumers do not benefit from the use of smart meters, and may result in loss of privacy and potential terrorism threat.

If I knew your electrical consumption at any time, I would know your usage patterns, when you are home, or away on vacation, and provide an opportunistic criminal with enough information to know when to make you vulnerable to crime.

Last year, after an extensive discussion with the second inspector (I was never given the opportunity to talk to the inspector who signed the report), we arrived at no conclusion. In order to address my complaint, and close the report I made to the UARB authorities, he wanted me to make some changes to my house siding. I have ‘a life’ (outside of reviewing their training standards), and was not about to tear siding off and work in the cold in October. He said, we would look at it again in the Spring 2013, and here we are, at that moment. I have received an email asking if I have made the necessary change yet? I have not. We aren’t even finished with below freezing temperatures yet, and cold siding could break easily and cause me more grief.
It is still cold outside. It is much warmer inside.  I have wasted another day to post this, in the hopes that someone, will shake their head, and realize that neither NSP, nor I, wish to go through this grief again. If it was good enough for more than 50 meter readings, by several safety-trained employees, there must surely be another 9 years that they could turn a blind eye to it, as they have since Hurricane Juan.
They have already gotten their 3 percent raise, and their CEO is getting a paycheck commensurate with a fortune 500 company CEO, even though NSP is a monopoly, and competes with no one.
Considering some obvious blunders captured in the media, and by Nova Scotia politicians about over-charging consumers, I think they should invest a little more money in their public relations, and not in ‘chasing around people around who might have more time on their hands’ to watch the quality of their performance better than they do.
I have the time, I have the tenacity, and I am annoyed by their condescending and arrogant approach. 

FOOTNOTES

To garner any response from Nova Scotia Power after the initial report, considerable calls had to be made, including to my Councillor, and a complaint filed with the UARB regulators. The open, customer service and public relations image the company portrays is not as they would have you believe. Even the second inspector, stated that the threat to disconnect my power was a mistake, and if my Councillor had not intervened, I probably would be in the dark today, because no one would talk to me. NS Power cares less about its customers than they would have you believe, and if there was no complaint that they had to address with the UARB, I would never have seen the second inspector. In a real world, with competing businesses, I would have been dealing with the competition. In a Monopoly Corporation, they are not threatened by a customer complaint, by violating their own guidelines, and appear to be thumbing their noses at the Nova Scotia politicians.

It’s time to clip a little control from the monopoly, or find a political party that can. Price gouging and sending CEO kids off to college at the expense of Nova Scotians, is unacceptable, and from a Quality Assurance perspective, this company cannot meet its own policy statements. Say what you do, and do what you say!  Stop hiding from  dialogue. The customer does not come first. Profits do. You’ve made your point. I’ve made mine.
If you see your Meter Reader, or an Inspector, or any Nova Scotia Power Employee, stop and ask them what their “seven minutes for safety” briefing was on, at the start of their shift. You paid for it, you should be able to request it.

Google in Smart Meters and see what you find. Here’s another link to a video you should view on Smart Meters.

Customers says Smart Meters making them sick

Headaches, nose bleeds, muscle cramps, cognitive dysfunction, fatigue, skin irritation and irregular sleep patterns are just some of the symptoms sufferers describe when they are exposed to electromagnetic fields.
Three states instituted moratoriums on Smart Meters, class action lawsuits were filed, and at one time, in California, 47 municipal jurisdictions had demanded a halt to installations of the meters.

Comparing Personal Choice Cell Phones to Mandated Smart Phones is unreasonable.

N.S. Power accused of underpaying for solar energy

Depending on what information is provided to the consumer, there is supposed to be a meter life cycle, either for calibration purposes, or for meter replacement. I have heard 10 years was the limit (I have no link) but let’s pretend it is 20 years, I would have been overdue to have my meter replaced, but this has never occurred, so unless there is a Smart Meter in the forecast, the frequency of upgrades, life cycling, and equipment maintenance, seems to be much longer than 20 years, some employees may say they have seen meters unchanged for 30 to 40 years. This information is not provided on the Nova Scotia Power website, or available on the regulatory UARB website. So, there is no good reason to be upgrading to Smart Meters, since the accuracy of the metering device has never been a concern in the past, and perhaps we should be raising questions about why that is? Your gas pumps have to be re-calibrated for accuracy, based on temperature and wear, but not your electrical meters. The Electric Act of 1998 should contain a reference, but does not. If I encounter a reference at a later time, this blog will be updated to provide the reader with that information as well. You should bookmark this page to return, should additional information be obtained later.

NOTE: I have no personal gain in addressing these issues. All I really wanted to be, was left alone. If Nova Scotia Power provides me with an exemption to their requirement to make changes to my siding and gets off my back, I will remove this web blog, and put the matter to rest. If they continue, as I expect they will, I will continue to consult regulatory bodies from the every available source, and provide it here in one place, for all customers to read.
Perhaps one of the Nova Scotia Politicians, hoping to win public opinion, would look into that matter before the next election. We will be watching for their concern before we vote. 

Nova Scotia Power Inc. needs to be regulated a little bit tighter.  Now, a Nova Scotia Man has filed a privacy complaint, and as usual, NSP has declined to reply t

Man to file privacy complaint after personal info released by Nova Scotia Power Inc –

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/story/2013/05/15/ns-nsp-privacy-complaint.html ( via @CBCNS )
90,000 received home energy audits from 3rd party contractor using Nova Scotia Power  customer information!

CBC News contacted NSP to ask if it had consent from the 90,000 customers whose personal information it sent to Opower.

Spokesperson Neera Ritcey did not answer the question and declined an interview.

She responded by saying, “Protecting our customers’ privacy is our top priority. We have done our thorough due diligence on it.”

SOUNDS FAMILIAR: NSP is a Monopoly, that needs better regulation. They don’t have to provide interviews, safety training records, or answer to anyone it seems, and customer service is not their specialty.  Wait and see what they get away with next.
Time for a REAL UARB review!

1 JAN 2013 Changes to Nova Scotia Power Regulations (PDF – Download)
Highlights include:

EFFECTIVE: JANUARY 1, 2013
No agent, employee or representative of the Company shall have the authority to make any promise, agreement or representation, whether verbal or otherwise, which is inconsistent with these Regulations and no such promise, agreement or representation if made or given shall be binding on the Company.

(Sounds like NOTHING that is said by any employee, in error, by bad practices or training, is binding. My discussions on the phone with representatives, or verbal agreements that the inspector has claimed, are not binding to the company under this policy makes “null and void” any verbal discussions made prior. Someone outside the company who can make legally binding decisions for the company must be attained. Since the supervision of their operation falls under the UARB, there should be no further need to deal with Nova Scotia Power Employees at any level, is binding on the company)

If, in the opinion of the Company, any Customer has failed to comply with these
requirements the Company shall, after written notice to the Customer, discontinue
electric service to such Customer. The standard connection charge will apply if service is
subsequently reconnected.

Written Notices are not binding on the company, made by any employee, outside of these regulations, but that burden is placed on the customer, at the risk of disconnection threat? The verbal agreement made in 2012 is now confirmed to be “null and void” as the inspector, the spokesperson that has contacted me, or any other person who is trained and employed by the company, is not legally binding? The UARB will have to talk to Nova Scotia Power’s legal adviser, as he is paid quite well for his services. This isn’t something that I should concern myself with at the mere *employee* level, which their amended regulation is clearly absolving them of, including any responsibility of training, or expertise, credentials or adherence to company policy or changes. Nice corporate safety net, why bother to contact the company at all?


2014 UPDATES

July, 2014 – Never hear from NSPower anymore, can’t even get their attention for a SAFETY CONCERN: Seems wires that they splice together, are normally covered with insulation, but over the years, and many wind storms, there is now bare wires exposed, a foot from my roof, near the steel electrical mast (that runs to the meter) and within 6 inches of each other, or perhaps my hand, when cleaning the roof drain gutters.

FOOLISH ME THINKING NSPOWER WOULD BE INTERESTED IN SAFETY
They used two Safety Inspectors to bully me for my Cosmetic siding near the meter, but when real safety concerns come up, I can’t file a repair order or even get them interested in reporting it for the next available road crew to assess. I did call the UARB (regulatory body) to see if they can wake up the monopoly to DO THEIR JOB, since only they regulate Electrical Safety from their transmission lines, to the Power Meter of your home.

Let’s see if they understand Due Diligence in Canadian Law: They know there is a problem, and ignore it, and the wind sparks the wires and burns my house down, that would kind of make them legally responsible for the loss, right? Profit before People, remember those 47 safety awards in my area? Do they draw them from a hat, or based on some Safety criteria?

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2014-02-20 UPDATES

Surprising to see that many of the ABOVE LINKS to SAFETY have been removed. Before, you could search Nova Scotia Power webpage for Safety awards, history, Safety Policy, training, all removed since reporting the discrepancy between what Emera says they do, and what they can prove they do, in the aspect of Safety. Soon, they will want to add Smart Meters, that every Power company is attempting, you should be very well informed before that time.

SaskPower ordered to remove all smart meters in the province

The minister responsible for SaskPower Bill Boyd said the utility company will be taking out all 105,000 smart meters around Saskatchewan.

“I think the concerns about safety are paramount here, the concerns are significant enough, anytime families are at risk in Saskatchewan, actions have to be taken and that’s why we’ve directed SaskPower accordingly,” said Minister Boyd.

RELATED

Homeowner calls on SaskPower to recall smart meters after one explodes at his home early Saturday morning. Another SaskPower smart meter explodes in Saskatchewan
Ontario ombudsman André Marin is set to announced an investigation into Hydro One’s billing practices for its smart meters. SaskPower installer requirements questioned after smart meter fires
SaskPower, SaskEnergy to begin installation of smart meters in Saskatoon and around the province. Smart meter installation begins in Saskatchewan
Ontario ombudsman André Marin is set to announced an investigation into Hydro One’s billing practices for its smart meters. SaskPower reports small number of smart meter concerns
The removal of the smart meters over the next six to nine months will cost around $15 million, according to SaskPower.

Global News

MONOPOLIES ARE EXPENSIVE

Nova Scotia Power’s parent company top 3 executives worth $7.9M via CBC News

It’s crazy to think that Emera pays top executives as if they were competing with the top execs in similar organizations, whose companies compete on the open market. This is customer money gouging.

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About novascotiarasta

A retired Canadian Sailor, activist, DJ and Performer, and new to blogging, but a *very* long-winded talker. ;-) Passionate about what I believe in, and relentless when scorned. I have the tenacity! I often play "l'avocat du diable" (Devil's Advocate) and may take either side in a debate. Known to fight for the underdog, and against the system, full of wit (or something that *sounds like* and usually get told I should do standup comedy.
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One Response to COMPLAINT: NS Power Inc., an Emera Corporation by @NSRasta #UARB #NSPowerInc

  1. Pingback: A Sackvillan Is Extremely Frustrated With The Run-Around And B.S. From Power Corp: | Sack-Vegas!!!!

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