New Safety Concerns Over PECO Meter Installations - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

New Safety Concerns Over PECO Meter Installations

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PECO'S multi-million dollar smart meter program shut down last week following fire and safety concerns.

Now, as the energy giant re-evaluates the program, a new safety issue is being raised - are some workers required to meet installation quotas?

"This is shocking to me."

PECO spokesperson Cathy Engel Menendez was taken aback when Fox 29 showed her a notice that seems to indicate that smart meter installers for a PECO sub-contractor must meet a performance quota, or be disciplined.

A so-called "Constructive Counseling Notice" was given to Fox 29 Investigates Jeff Cole last week by a worker who claims he was suspended for not installing enough meters. The employee works for Grid One Solutions, a company sub-contracting with PECO to install thousands of the new meters.

The notice, written about two weeks ago, states that the employee will be "required to meet and exceed his 30 meter quota," and "failure to do so will result in further disciplinary action."

Last week, following a Fox 29 investigation and two recent fires in Buck's County, PECO suspended the federally funded program over growing concerns that the installation of the digital meters could spark fires.

PECO says there have been 15 overheating incidents since they began installing the meters last year. To date, 186,000 meters have been installed. PECO says nine of the incidents were the result of existing electrical conditions. Six are still under investigation.

Engel Menendez says Grid One has told PECO that it does not impose a quota system. Menendez believes if installers must meet performance goals, safety could be an issue.

"It's just frankly against the paramount focus of safety," Menendez says. "It is unequivocally not the way PECO conducts itself."

"The guys are driven pretty hard."

Scott Cummings of northeast Philadelphia says he worked for Grid One Solutions for about two years. He says smart meter installations have involved electrical arcs, flashes and fires. He says he also knows about performance quotas.

"We have guys that could put in 50 or 60 per day and they were the golden boys," Cummings says. "We had guys that put in 18 and we were told to manage them to production and get rid of them."

 "Our bottom line is to keep people safe," Menendez emphasizes. "And if that's something that would not keep people safe, we want to put a stop to it."

 Late Tuesday afternoon, Fox 29 received an email from Grid One.

It states that "an employee goal" was incorrectly referred to as a "quota" as part of an individual employee's performance counseling. The email says that Grid One has an "employee performance goal of 30 meter installations per day" based on past experience with similar installations."

 

 

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