Yes, the electric company owns the meter.
1). The meter comes from the utility company. Once you apply for one, they deploy a technician to deliver and install the meter.
2). The utility provider will periodically send meter readers to your home. People expect them to collect information from the device, which is true. They take the readings an energy company uses to bill you. However, their responsibilities are more wide-ranging than you realize. They include the following:
- They can install meters in new locations. The meter reader ensures that a new meter is set to zero before you start using it.
- If you have an analog meter, the meter reader can turn your power supply off because you’ve failed to pay your bill.
- They will answer any questions you have. They can also connect you to the relevant experts if you present a problem they can’t resolve.
You don’t expect meter readers to return after installing a smart meter. After all, the smart meter talks directly to the energy provider. You don’t need a meter reader to take manual readings. However, the energy company can deploy a technician to your location if they detect an anomaly with your smart meter.
For instance, some people steal electricity by hacking the smart meter and changing its readings. Some smart meters have mechanisms that detect tampering, alerting the energy provider.
3). Electric meters are usually hermetically sealed. Breaking the seal to access the meter is illegal. The severity of the penalties will vary depending on your location. This Tampa Bay Times article mentions a case in which one homeowner was charged with grand theft and fraud, third-degree felonies that carry a five-year sentence (maximum).
The man in question was caught because his bill had dropped from $100 to $10. Apparently, a person had visited his home and offered to lower his energy bill. He paid $200 for the service. In this particular scenario, the homeowner was arrested for stealing electricity.
However, the experts at Firelands Electric Cooperative have noted that merely tampering with the utility meter can attract fines of $2,500 and prison sentences of six months to five years. This proves that you don’t own the electric meter.
But the device sits on your property. Doesn’t that give you some control over the meter? Not necessarily. The regulations in most regions expect you to provide the utility company with easy access to the meter.
This is why contractors typically install electric meters outside. If they install the device in your home, you must permit them to enter whenever they need to access the meter.
The Responsibilities and Obligations Of The Energy Company Over The Electric Meter
Now that you know who owns the electric meter, what can you expect from them? What are their duties and obligations? Most utility providers will do the following:
- They will install new electric meters.
- They will move meters from one location to another. Whether or not they charge you depends on the reason why they moved the meter.
- They will test the meter if they notice anomalies.
- They will install and update the firmware.
- They will fix software glitches in digital and smart meters.
- They will identify and resolve safety issues.
- They will upgrade meters. For instance, they can replace an old digital meter with a new smart meter for free.
- They will upgrade a meter’s functionality if the need arises.
What To Do When The Electric Meter Fails?
The energy company will perform any task that relates to the electric meter. After all, the device is their property. They are responsible for its maintenance. While this sounds annoying to some people, it should also put you at ease because it protects you from the repair and maintenance costs associated with the electric meter.
For instance, if a tree falls and breaks the electric meter, you don’t have to hire a licensed electrician. If you call the energy company, they will fix or replace it for free. What if you notice a fault in the meter’s functions? Electric meters can manifest various signs and symptoms when they develop defects, including the following:
- Your utility bill will increase dramatically even though your energy consumption remains unchanged.
- The utility bill will remain the same even though your energy consumption has decreased.
- The meter will generate strange sounds.
- The numbers on the meter will continue to turn even after you shut all the lights and appliances off.
But even if you don’t know for a fact that anything is wrong, don’t hesitate to call the energy provider. They will send an expert to investigate your worries without charging you a cent.
What Does The Consumer Own?
What do you own if the electric meter belongs to the energy provider? It depends on where you live and the regulations that govern your location. Although, the following is usually true for most people:
- The utility pole belongs to the energy company. Even if it sits on your property, they own it. After all, it supplies electricity to various houses, not just yours.
- They also own the electrical lines that bring the current from the grid to your property. That includes the lines overhead and underground.
- The Citizens Advice Bureau has clarified that service lines that bring power to your meter alone belong to you, whereas service lines running to multiple properties are the company’s responsibility. This applies to New Zealand. The rules in your area may vary.
- The transformer belongs to the utility provider.
- You own the Weatherhead. The homeowner is expected to maintain this hood-shaped cap.
- The wiring in your home belongs to you.
- Surprisingly, the meter base is also your responsibility. The meter base is the enclosure that surrounds the meter.
- If you have a meter board holding your electrical equipment, the utility company may change it for you.