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Removing a Meter

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(@rusty)
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Hi, I’d be interested in any thoughts surrounding the removal of one of our meters and supplies to our house and if it would be cost effective or even advisable. The previous owners converted part of the building into a self contained “granny flat”, complete with a separate mains feed and meter to the main part of the house. Subsequently, they returned it back to a single property but retained the meter. Thus we have two 100A cut-outs and two meters serving what is a single residence of around 170m2. This didn’t seem a problem when the standing charge was £70/year but it is now £210/year and unlikely to fall. I’ve been in contact with National Grid and it seems that even if we have the meter removed, electricity supply companies may still apply the standing charge due to the cut-out and MPAN remaining in place. National Grid also do not like leaving unused live feeds due to safety considerations, hence they would want to remove the feed back to the main underground cable out in road. Quite an amount of work, for which they will obviously charge. We are having building work start soon to add a small extension and refurbish the insulation/windows to bring this part of the house up to (hopefully) much better than the required part L limits, so I need to make a decision on rewiring. We will obviously try and get a load assessment for a single meter supply, but I suspect that it may be more cost effective to just keep two supplies and carry on paying the additional standing charge, painful as that is, particularly given that in the future we will probably add a HP and BEV charger. A single (assumed) 80A supply doesn’t seem enough to me.


   
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Transparent
(@transparent)
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Your meter falls within the responsibility of your Energy Supplier, whereas the 100A Service Fuse belongs to your DNO.
So you'll need to seek advice on costs from both parties before evaluating your best option.

It is not necessarily the case that you must be billed a standing charge just because an MPAN exists... although I'm sure any Supplier would like to do so!
There are lots of MPANs around which have no active account associated with them.

When you write 'National Grid', I assume that you're referring to National Grid Electricity Distribution (NGED) and that you therefore live in one of the four regions for which they hold a DNO licence.

Whether they would insist on a disconnection back on the 3Ph Feed on the road depends on the type of Service Fuse you have, and what you tell them about future use for HP and EV charger.
NGED may suggest that it's easier/cheaper to 'upgrade' the house to 3Ph.

A 3Ph cable is their usual preferred choice, whether or not it then has a 3-phase meter on the house end of it.

I do have access to all NGEDs data-sets and mapping tools. So if there are particular issues such as shared access and looped supplies, I can look at those if you wish.
You can send me your Post Code by Private Message - not here on the open website!

Yes, there are costs involved, and such changes are normally scheduled 21 days ahead.

However, I did find the following message on their Disconnections Guidance page:

image

This suggests that you won't have to wait 21 days if you're cultivating cannabis, although the charges still apply.

Just a thought... 🤔 

 

 

This post was modified 11 months ago 2 times by Transparent

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(@rusty)
Estimable Member Member
153 kWhs
Joined: 3 years ago
Posts: 47
Topic starter  

@transparent Thanks for your input. You are of course correct, my DNO is the former Western Power Distribution, now a division of National Grid, NGED. Apologies for the lack of precision.

I am aware that the electricity supplier (in this case Octopus Energy) is responsible for the meter and I have been in contact with them. They advise that they do not charge for meter removal or moving a meter within a 1m distance of the current location. I’ve not yet asked if they charge for a disconnected supply with MPAN. When I last looked into this, quite a while ago, the supplier was Bulb, who did charge, something like £150 if I remember correctly, so it didn’t make much financial sense at the time. As an aside, there is information on the Octopus Energy website that indicates that Electricity Suppliers only rent the meter from investment organisations set up specifically to finance meter replacements. It is, I suppose, these organisations that don’t like you to remove the meter/supply.

I contacted NGED initially through their general contact form and was put in touch with the local expert, so I can only go on what they indicated. I guess that they were hedging somewhat, to be fair, they indicated that the Electricity Supplier probably wouldn’t charge for a disconnected supply, but I suppose that there is always the exception. The suggestion was that NGED do not like to leave live equipment (i.e. the power cable and cut-out) in a property for safety reasons.

I was surprised that they could not tell me what the fuse rating of each supply was. the fuse housings are rated at 100A, but I understand that generally they won’t allow more that 80A fuses to be installed (18kVA) and typically only 60A fuses are fitted (15kVA). It is possible to request a fuse upgrade I believe.

I did try to use their on-line self service estimator, but at the mapping stage, it only showed a ‘possible’ orange connection and point blank refused to allow a cable route under the road (actually a private farm track). WPD have previously supplied me with a location map indicating the underground cable routes to my and my neighbours properties, so it looks like the tool is incomplete.

I did find some guidance from another DNO, https://www.ukpowernetworks.co.uk/i-already-have-electricity-domestic/disconnect/permanently-disconnect-cost-and-time#underground.

Ah, 3-phase, I won’t hold my breath. We are on a small isolated rural community of a few house and a farm, supplied by a pole mounted transformer and underground cable. The 11kV line is two wire, so single phase. There  was great excitement when they upgraded the main line, about 500m away, to 3-phase, but it only went to the big farm over the hill. I guess we could get together and request an upgrade.

Given that the expectation is that householders will transition to all electric heating and transport, there must be a doubt over the suitability of existing connections, and strengthening may well be required in many cases. The default position of the DNOs seems to be that the householder must pay for these upgrades. I don’t want to instigate an expensive modification now, that only needs redoing at a later stage. Without getting a current load estimate and an estimate of any future HP and BEV requirements, not forgetting potential Solar/battery installations, I have no idea what household supply I need. Or am I being too cautious?

It would appear that the best option would be to request a site visit to discuss the options and to get a quote for any proposed works, obviously, the cost depends on many factors. However, I suspect that it may not be cost effective and that we may as well just continue with the existing arrangement.

I will investigate the PM. Unfortunately no cannabis, only cucumbers.

Thanks again.


   
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Transparent
(@transparent)
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Thanks @rusty. There's lots of correct detail in what you write, which indicates that you have been talking to the right people.

However, it is usually the case that a 100A Service Fuse holder does indeed have a 100A fuse inside it.
80A is the import threshold for G100-certified LCT (Low Carbon Technology) and Storage batteries on that 100A fuse.
I know that because it's in an email from an NGED Policy engineer which I received a week ago!

I understand the electricity distribution constraints in rural areas - because I also live in one!

So you're on a single-phase local transformer, and little leverage to get a 3-phase upgrade.

However, the Ofgem Significant Code Review on Access Charges came into force on 1st April this year ('23).
If you or your neighbours requested a renewable energy generation/storage connection, you can no longer be requested to pay anything towards the associated infrastructure upgrades.

You would be wise to check with your neighbours on the timescales within which they too may wish to install EV charge points and heat-pumps.
That enables you to go back to the Area Network Engineering Team to discuss the options.

They (and I) have details of the available headroom on your transformer and the primary transformer which supplies it.

That allows NGED to assess the timeframe within which a new conductor run to your housing cluster becomes essential.

The alternative scenario is for you to install 'off-grid' battery storage. That enables you to import electricity at times when the local area is less heavily loaded.
In turn, that pushes back the date by which the 11kV cabling must be reinforced.

For the moment, ignore who pays for what.
Open up the discussion with NGEDs area  team and enable both sides to look at the available engineering options.

I have more solutions I can put forward here, but it would take hours to do so!
Let's first narrow down the possibilities by listening to NGED's view.

Save energy... recycle electrons!


   
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(@rusty)
Estimable Member Member
153 kWhs
Joined: 3 years ago
Posts: 47
Topic starter  

Thanks @transparent for the information and advice and correcting the fuse information.

I had read somewhere that the DNO might not allow full loading of the fuse holders due to overheating concerns, but that may have been for older types. We have two 100A type IIb holders, the older one black plastic (labelled SWEB) and the newer one grey/white plastic, cables are around 16mm diameter over sheath. Hopefully NGED can fill me in on whats actually inside.

I will try and engage the neighbours to gauge interest and get back to my NGED contact.

Solar/Battery storage was on the plan, but for various reasons have had to put that on the back burner for now. Although I would like to put in the hooks now, as we upgrade the distribution panel, to allow adding later without incurring addition work.


   
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Transparent
(@transparent)
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Service Fuses and their conditions are covered in the Meter Operators Code of Practice Agreement.
I strongly suggest that you download a copy of the older MOCOPA version online whilst it's still available.
The later version has been modified by the Retail Energy Code to remove all the useful graphics!

That guide enables you to visually evaluate all sorts of cut-outs, what they're likely to contain, and which require reporting to your DNO for upgrade.

Send out copies to anyone who's likely to visit homes with iffy/old electrics.

 

I absolutely agree with evaluating solar/storage at this stage, even though you may not be installing anything for several years ahead.

In many cases the tariffs we'll need to make it viable don't yet exist.
We require regionally-based Time-of-Use tariffs and Locational/Nodal pricing layered on top.

But prospects for these could change rapidly in order to tackle Climate Change.
That's increasingly becoming important to us as individuals, as is the war in Ukraine causing gas prices to rise.

A UK General Election must take place by 28th Jan 2025, and could be a lot earlier.
In the run-up to that, the rival parties will be laying out the energy strategies they'll be implementing.
Tariff changes should be high on our list of requests to prospective candidates.

At present I still have to pay the higher-rate on my ToU tariff, even if the solar/wind generation sites in my region are discarding electricity due to over-supply.

As a society we can no longer afford to live like that!

 

Save energy... recycle electrons!


   
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(@rusty)
Estimable Member Member
153 kWhs
Joined: 3 years ago
Posts: 47
Topic starter  

Thanks again @transparent. I’ve now (speed) read the OFGEM Access Charges document, I think I have a basic understanding, though I may be wrong. From figure 2 of the Access SCR Final Decision, I assume “extension assets” are from the main supply cable to the house and are charged (demand/generation) and “reinforcement assets at connection voltage” are the main cable back to the transformer and may be charged for generation but not demand (bit of a grey area if you have demand and generation at the same connection, I assume not chargeable in this case). “Reinforcement assets at connection voltage +1” I assume to be the 11kV side and not chargeable in either case.

Our cut-outs and fuses are both the more modern type and appear to be in good condition (apart from missing the covers over the earth screw connection). I found the following document, which refers to the MOCOPA document and has some more photos: low-carbon-technologies-cut-out-rating-guidance-to-electric-vehicle-or-heat-pump-installers although it suggests assuming 60A fuses, which is I guess the safe option.

I have also found some internal WPD/NGED LV design guides, specifically ST:SD5D/3. ST:SD5A/6 is also interesting, as is NGED Standardisation of Fusing to 80A.

I guess it’s another topic specifying what you may need to install to future proof a supply/distribution board, for instance it appears you might want to provide a 32A circuit for a car charger, etc.

ToU tariffs are I expect inevitable in some form. One of the reasons to consider Solar/Battery might be to mitigate the effects of such tariffs, assuming you have the resources. However, what happens when there is significant grid attached storage available (pumped, gravity, battery, etc). ToU tariffs might then be “flattened”, over-generation dumping may be reduced, household generation and storage might be less attractive.

 


   
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Transparent
(@transparent)
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It is typical of the energy sector that they use official terminology to describe something, but that the naming isn't well founded on either the underlying physics, nor the English language!

I was at a couple of NGED public consultation days last autumn, close to where you live(!). So fortuitously we were able to discuss the Ofgem SCR and its likely impact on engineering time & costs.
As I 'think' in diagrams, let me offer this diagram of the transformer hierarchy and voltages used in your DNO Region:

DistrGrid

As has always been so, the customer must pay for their Connection to the local substation.

In most cases this boils down to a short cable run to the nearest 3Ph (440v) in the road.
But if there isn't one, as in your situation, then you'll be charged for whatever cable run is required from the transformer.

The SCR requires the DNO to fund all other network upgrades beyond that...
... for which they have no money, because the SCR was issued in May'22, one month after Ofgem had approved their RIIO-ED2 Licence Agreement. 😯 

The inevitable consequence is that NGED must raise that money by increasing the daily standing charge.

Ofgem's reasoning for the SCR is that more renewable generation would get connected to the grid if the costs of doing so were lower.

The problem for you and I is that we live in the SW Region, which is already over-subscribed for renewable generation.
Since the transformers and cross country cabling are at capacity, the surplus electricity is discarded.

No one knows how much is lost, because you can't measure electricity which isn't now passing through a meter.
So that allows our politicians and Ofgem to remain blissfully ignorant of the the problem.

For your interest, here is the 2022 map of SW Region showing the Bulk Supply Point transformers and the Primary Substations which they feed:
(I've superimposed the 400kV and 132kV lines on top).

Constraints E Apr22

Note that the region is above capacity before the two major zero-carbon projects are added

  • Hinckley-C Nuclear plant; 2 turbines, max total output 3.26GW
  • Xlinks undersea cable from Morocco; 3.6GW, plus associated battery storage at the UK end at Alverdiscott (circled on map)

The obvious solution is for customers in the region to install home-based batteries, and store all that we can using ToU tariffs.

Whatever we don't store must be exported from the region, mainly to London & SE England.

To do so, NGED is engaging in major network upgrades using our standing charges.
Ie the West Country residents are funding grid enhancements to send 'our' renewable generation to the area of the UK which has the lowest standing charges.

I'll pick up your other points anon.

This post was modified 11 months ago 3 times by Transparent

Save energy... recycle electrons!


   
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(@rusty)
Estimable Member Member
153 kWhs
Joined: 3 years ago
Posts: 47
Topic starter  

Thanks again @transparent for correcting my ignorance. On first reading, I did get the impression that the conclusion was only to charge at the point of connection voltage, but I guess I don’t fully understand the terminology. The comments about “freeloaders” waiting until another householder had paid for an upgrade before submitting their own request was, I thought, an interesting observation.

I certainly don’t want to pay for upgrades back to the substation, it’s several miles away!

I can’t believe that it is not possible to measure and record how much renewable energy is discarded, a couple of meters perhaps. Any idea how is it discarded? Wind turbines I would imagine to be feathered and rotated out of the wind direction to reduce generation, which could probably be estimated. Solar, perhaps dumping into a dummy load. If they sell it to me cheaply enough I will fill the garage with Chinese batteries, but that probably requires a costly network upgrade back to the substation.

I’m sure I read somewhere that the whole of the South West has been designated a solar resource, hence all the solar farms.

There is a proposal for a large off shore wind farm in the waters just beyond Lundy Island, making landfall at Staunton Sands and heading for West Yelland substation via the SSSI at Braunton Burrows.

Last year, I think, I got a bit cross about OFGEN raising the standing charge in the South West to significantly above that for London, and indeed for those households in the Scottish highlands and other remote places that actually supply all of this alternative energy, so I made a formal complaint. Apparently, we are not all in this mess together. If I remember correctly, the excuse was the cost of the local distribution, not the National Grid.

Thanks for the regional map, very interesting to see this, makes it a bit easier to visualise where it all comes from and goes to.


   
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Transparent
(@transparent)
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Posted by: @rusty

I certainly don’t want to pay for upgrades back to the substation, it’s several miles away!

No. The substation is where the voltage drops from 11kV to 440/230.
In your case that transformer is 35/1198 and it's on a pole next to your house!

It's probably the smallest size transformer they use (25KVA).
But daytime peak demand is only 14kVA, so it's still happy.

As soon as you and your neighbours start wanting LCT (Low Carbon Technology) devices, then NGED will need to upgrade it.
That's not your problem. You just pay for the connection to it.

For readers who haven't yet realised, @rusty & I have exchanged PMs, which enables me to see his network information on NGEDs database.
We're obviously not going to reveal his location here on the open forum.
A. for the usual privacy rules
B. Because it's idyllic and you'll all try to visit!

 

Posted by: @rusty

I can’t believe that it is not possible to measure and record how much renewable energy is discarded, a couple of meters perhaps

Hah! There's a contactor which opens to prevent current flowing.
Try measuring that!

But remember, the Active Network Management system is only implemented for the larger commercial generators.
Those whose grid connection is at lower voltages have a licence condition which restricts the maximum they're allowed to export at all times.
There are tried and trusted ways to enforce that.

 

Posted by: @rusty

I’m sure I read somewhere that the whole of the South West has been designated a solar resource, hence all the solar farms.

Where you're situated there's also a fair amount of wind generation.

The map showing Large Generator Connections (above 1MW) is publicly available.
Here's a zoomed-in section showing the W Region, to which I've tacked on the key.

LargeGeneratorsConnections

NGED's fastest area of growth is their Data Team.
Us consumers need to get stuck into those parts which they openly publish, and use it to better inform ourselves on future energy strategy.

 

There's little point getting upset at Ofgem, because they're the industry regulator.
They are not permitted to interface with us grass-roots consumers.

Ofgem are governed by the Dept of Energy, Security and Net Zero under Grant Shapps MP.
The route to DESNZ is via your MP, who I happen to know well.
We have discussed energy issues on several occasions.

Better still, the Parliamentary which scrutinizes DESNZ (and hence Ofgem) is currently calling for Written Evidence on several issues.
The deadline is 25th August.

I've checked with the Committee Administrators' office, and we are permitted to submit evidence which includes maps, diagrams and graphs.

 

Finally, regarding the matter of filling your garage with cheap Chinese batteries,
please dive into the other topics about such strategies on this forum.

A beginners Guide to Home Energy Storage - no solar

My experience with the Seplos Mason DIY kit

 

This post was modified 11 months ago by Transparent

Save energy... recycle electrons!


   
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(@rusty)
Estimable Member Member
153 kWhs
Joined: 3 years ago
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Topic starter  

@transparent Ah, terminology tripping me up again. I think we’ve got to the bottom of the point of responsibility now. If NGED could just draw me a picture I’d understand better. They have provided me with a map of the rough location routes of cables and equipment, which helps.

If anybody does come down, to gaze at the transformer, can they take a cucumber away with them please?

Another useful map, good stuff thanks.

I have a contact who knows the local MP, but as you say, scrutinising the energy policy and responding to DESNZ might be more productive. Contacting OFGEN was just frustration.

I have a tendency to flippancy, I’m trying hard to stop, don’t want to be de-banked.

I’ll wait and see if I can get a site visit and suggestions/coatings from NGED and look again at the solar/battery topics.

Thanks.


   
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(@rusty)
Estimable Member Member
153 kWhs
Joined: 3 years ago
Posts: 47
Topic starter  

I've just realised that I've not provided an update on this, been rather busy. In summary, from my understanding:

Octopus Energy confirmed that, at the present time, they do not charge to remove a meter nor to move it within 1m of the current location (although when asked if moving it from the inside of the house to the outside, still within 1m distance, counted, they advised that in this case this would be chargeable).

The NGED engineer performed a site visit and provided a couple of free costings, one to remove one supply cable and fuse and one to move an existing cable from inside to a new meter box on the outside.

The NGED engineer insisted that if the meter were removed, the cut-out, fuse and cable would need to be removed, or made good such that it was no longer visible/useable. In effect, the internal cable would need to be cut back to the wall and covered over (the cable disappears under a porch, so cannot realistically be completely removed). In addition, the cable run under the front garden would need to be exposed and a length of the order of one metre removed and the supply capped as near to the boundary as possible. NGED suggested this option as the main cable joint is on the other side of a roadway. The costing did not include the trenching, which would be our responsibility.

For the second supply, the NGED engineer said that the existing cable couldn't be pulled through the wall successfully and hence would need extending by exposing the cable externally and jointing a few metres of new cable up through a "hockey" stick conduit and into a new external meter box about 1m or so up the wall. Cutting out the meter box recess and inserting a lintel would be our responsibility and hence was not included in the quote.

If anybody is interested in the figures, as a guide if they are considering something similar, then I could provide them by PM, but I don't want to publish here as they are obviously subject to site specific variables and may become out of date rapidly.

Currently, I've decided to park this for now due to the cost and other matters, though I might reconsider if the standing charge rises again. Not sure if I could get away with just asking Octopus Energy to remove the meter and absent mindedly forgetting to inform NGED, I assume that there is a process with the MPANs, rather like for the recent discussion on Gas meters, whereby the Supplier would inform the DNO.

The NGED engineer told me that the main fuses would be 80A and that NGED/WPD did not install 100A fuses They also said that NGED were happy to allow a 25% overload for up to 4 hours continuously. Presumably the thermal rating of the fuse/cables can cope with such overloading and this allows for some peaking/tolerancing without blowing the fuses all the time.

One of my neighbours has just had an ASHP, Solar Panels and a Car charger installed. Unfortunately they couldn't say if this raised any issues with NGED, presumably the installer dealt with all that.


   
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