Clay County woman warning others after new digital energy meter explodes, starts small house fire

CLAY COUNTY, Mo. -- Cerise Edwards was asleep inside her home when a small explosion woke her children, who then woke her up.

A new digital meter installed by Platte-Clay Electric Cooperative combusted and started a small fire at her home, she said.

“My son had filled up a bucket of water and handed it to me, and I came out and tried to stand as far away as I could because electricity and water don’t mix, and I threw it on there and the flames went out,” Edwards said.

Once the fire and smoke cleared, she found her newly installed energy meter had melted.

“I did a little research, and I’ve seen we are not the first people in the KC area to have experienced this kind of thing," Edwards said. "KCP&L had problems last year with them."

“With some of the data I've seen on these smart meters, it seems like they're very finicky," she said. "So it kind of makes me nervous, and I'd like for other people to be on the lookout for this."

Fox 4 spoke with representatives from the company who insist the new meters are safe. This fire was just an isolated incident, they said.

“What causes the problem is loose connections or improper installation, as far as the connection goes, but not the meter itself," said Jared Wolters, engineering manager for Platte-Clay Electric Cooperative. "The meters, they can melt, but the problem isn't the meter."

Company leaders said they're in the process of switching all customers to the new digital meters because the analog meters are no longer being manufactured.

“We've had a really smooth transition as far as going to the new meters," Wolters said. "We have had one instance that we are aware of out of 22,000 where the meters aren't the problem."

Wolters said the new system should benefit customers and help simplify the billing process.

“It could help them in understanding how they're using their electricity, so they can use them by lowering their usage by knowing where all of their energy consumption is going and what's causing it," he said. "They work very well. We've had a very high success rate and very little concern."

Electric providers across the country are switching to the new digital meters as analog meters are no longer being manufactured. Platte-Clay Electric Cooperative representatives said all of its members will be switched to the new system by the end of 2018.