At the request of the Crown Investments Corporation of Saskatchewan (CIC), Robertson Stromberg has completed its independent investigation into the legal issues surrounding the troubled SaskPower Smart Meter program. The results of the review were made public at a news conference on October 28, 2014.
Findings included a breakdown in risk assessment, particularly protection against risk of a safety defect. The contract with Sensus limited the rights of SaskPower to claim damages from Sensus where the loss was a result of defective meters.
It was found that SaskPower did not focus sufficiently on the safety qualities of the smart meters. Only after reports of smart meter fires elsewhere did customer safety appear to have become a matter of central importance.
Prior to procurement and installation of Sensus meters, SaskPower received information which should have acted as warning signs. Had they “stood down” the program they could have protected themselves from the economic loss flowing from the safety defect.
There appeared to be a lack of ownership of risk management issues in the early stages of the AMI project, a critical time for risk identification.
The roles and responsibilities of those dealing with external legal counsel were found to need clarification. The relationship between a variety of consultants and the SaskPower legal team may have contributed to a disconnect between those who drafted the contracts and the buyer procurement team. Some members of the project indicated that it was sometimes difficult to know who was a SaskPower employee and who was a consultant. Some key individuals in this process did not appear to have knowledge of critical facts.
SaskPower was encouraged by legal counsel to purchase and install small numbers of meters in order to allow time to judge performance. This advice was not followed.
In preparing this report, the Robertson Stromberg team reviewed thousands of pages of contracts, reports, emails and general documentation. In addition, the law firm interviewed 20 employees and consultants of SaskPower, and used its own resources for contract review and information gathering. Gary Young, RS group leader, spoke at the news conference on behalf of the RS team who worked on this project including M. Kim Anderson, Jared Epp, Dustin Gillanders, and Kelsey Burke.