11 February 2011

More ICP Switch concerns

IBERDROLA ARE writing to their customers instructing them to fit an ICP (power control switch) or face being charged a higher electricity tariff. A Royal Decree (Order ITC/1.857/2008) passed on July 1st 2008 declared that by law all electrical installations must have a device for controlling the contracted power. In domestic dwellings that means an ICP must be fitted. I previously posted an article explaining the whys and what's, plus the costs involved.

The Iberdrola website is reasonably clear about the new requirements. Unfortunately, there has been some cases of “the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing” when it comes down to informing their staff about the new legislation. One of my customers visited the Iberdrola office in Pilar de Horadada only to asked if they could photocopy the article that I produced for the RTN newspaper so they could “check up on it”. 

Further to the FAQ's posted on the Iberdrola website, there is one useful piece of information they omitted; if you have a power limiter (ICP-A reenganche automatico) in your meter cupboard you may not need to fit the new ICP switch. These 'old' limiters are now obsolete, and can be easily identified by the manufacturers name, Lemag, on the front cover. The ICP-A was first introduced in 1980 (Mo de Industra Energia, 5 Mar 1980) and was fitted in meter cupboards up until the mid 90's (est.). One method to identify whether or not you have an ICP-A type power limiter fitted to your installation is; if you have a lot of appliances switched on at the same time and the electricity cuts off, but then comes back on automatically after few minutes like an Act of God without any 'tripping-out' in your Consumer Unit, then you have a remote power limiter, which should satisfy Iberdrola. 

In order to fit the new ICP (sometimes referred to as an ICP-M) you must have a standardised box. This maybe a dedicated compartment in your existing Consumer Unit, or a separate box mounted next to your Consumer Unit. In both cases, Iberdrola must be able to seal the box, ensuring the ICP is tamper proof. 

For properties with a digital meter, Iberdrola have no plans to use a power control facility incorporated with these meters, therefore they do not qualify as an ICP switch. A national plan to to replace all existing mechanical meters with digital meters in Spain by the end of 2018 has no bearing on ICP's. 

A possible consequence of installing an ICP is that insufficient power maybe contracted, if you need additional power you will need a new upgraded contract.

If you have not received a letter but want to find out if you need to have an ICP fitted, contact Iberdrola tel. 901 10 22 10, and quote your contract number on the top right-hand corner of your electricity bill.


  1. I take it that an ICP is what we call in the UK a trip switch?

  2. An ICP is a "trip switch" that controls/limits your power supply to the amount you are contracted for

  3. I'm reading this and am puzzled. Most air con units except the more recent inverter types will have a surge current which could easily exceed the potencia supplied. If the over power device was a fuse, then depending on its rating it could take both the average running current and the motor surge.

    What class is the ICP being fitted? It would seem a big rip off if the contracted supply value will respond to a cycle of motor surge and disconnect.

    I've not seen anything written about peak surge currents yet, so I wonder how people are coping with their air con systems now they have these ICPs

    Nice description by the way.

  4. Surges don't only come from air con units and the ICP is not a fuse ??? If a surge current is overloading the ICP, and you require more power, then you are going to have to upgrade your electricity supply.

    Spanish electricity law stipulates that all consumers of electricity must have an ICP fitted in accordance with their contracted supply. So if you ain't got an ICP, and they instruct you fit one, it's up to you to get one fitted or pay the penalty with a higher tariff.

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  6. I have an automatic limiter, but have been unable to convince Iberdrola. I have telephoned and written. Can you offer any suggestions? Thanks.

  7. What type of limiter? It maybe Iberdola's records show that you don't have one, in which case you will need to to have an ICP(M) - manual type - get them to inspect and seal it by ringing 902 10 22 10 quoting your contract number.

  8. Thanks for your prompt reply of Apr3,2012. I assume my limiter is Lemag, as shown in your article. It is housed in a cupboard at the end of the terrace of properties, with others, and I only know of one other owner who had 'the letter', and he replied and still pays the 3.3Kw rate. I only spend a few weeks a year in Spain and am having difficulty sorting this out.

  9. If it's a Lemag limiter then it's the old automatic ICP(A) which Iberdrola don´t fit anymore. However it really all depends on what Iberdrola have on their computer records. My advice is get a new ICP(M) fitted ASAP, inform Iberdola, then you'll stop paying the penalty (which I presume you are). There is no sense in arguing with Iberdrola about the old ICP. If they've written instructing you top to fit one there is no way round it.

  10. Hi, I'm an American visiting my partner's parents in Castellon. They are iberdrola customers and have had a nightmare in the last year. They live in a 40+ year old house and are on a contract with a 1,5kW Pontencia (apparently inherited from the former owners). Early last winter (Dec or Jan) ince they were instructed by Iberdrola to upgrade their meter to a new digital meter (they have a Landis Gyr E450 installed now in their garage). A month later - for the first time ever - their power tripped off and kept tripping - despite just normal usage. Apparently with the new meter Iberdrola was able to monitor their instantaneous usage and finally got around to enforcing the limit on their usage. Since then, they have stopped using the dishwasher, and washing machine (both trip the power) and purchased a new fridge and smaller microwave to try and work under their limit. They can only take showers in the one bathroom in the house that gets its water heated from the gas heater.

    They hired an electrician and he said that they need to upgrade their plan, but to do so he said Iberdrola required some internal upgrading and cleaning up of the old wiring in the house... as well as sealing the Power Meter. He performed all those tasks and went to the government to get this work certified (maybe that's the Boland?) . They then went to Iberdrola with this formal paperwork and asked to be upgraded above the 1500 watt limit - which seems to be impractical, even though they don't have electric heating or cooling. Iberdrola charged them 160 Euros for what they thought was the fee to be upgraded .... once the money had cleared the bank Iberdrola announced that they could not upgrade their power plan until:

    * They pay over 10,000 Euros to Iberdrola to bring the underground power (they get their power from overhead wire - as do the neighbors) half way round a city block to their front doorstep AND moved their new power meter (the one that Iberdrola asked them to install a year ago) out to the streetside.

    They are not inclined to pay 10,000 Euros for a task that they feel should be the power companies obligation (bringing underground power along the street in a fairly dense residential neighborhood) so now are turning off most lights before using the toaster etc.... forgoing simple amenities like a dishwasher. The electrician now says that if they want to "wait out" Iberdrola... they need to simply limit their power or buy a diesel generator.

    I started doing some research, but it seems that even with the best new energy efficient appliances its going to be very very hard to stay under their 1500 watt limit.

    Of course had they not put in the new meter (as requested by Iberdrola) then Iberdrola would not have been able to enforce the 1500 watt limit from the ancient contract that they inherited from the former owners of the house (some 40 years ago).

    Any advice would be appreciated.

  11. Castellion is a unique situation. It is the first city in Spain to get a "Smart Grid" as part of the STAR project (you may want to check that out on Iberdrola's web site). I don´t know about the progress of the project in Castellion but every home is due to have a "Smart Meter" fitted, which is mandatory not optional. The Smart Meters have an ICP (power control switch) in accordance with customers contracted supply, and the power consumption is limited to that amount. In your parents case 1.5 kW. It is protocol for Iberdrola to request a boletin (certificate) in order to upgrade the electrical supply to the property if more power is required. Undoubtedly an installation wired to take 1.5 kW will require a considerable amount of work to bring it up to the current safety standards for a 5.75 kW (current normal installation) to the spec of the latest Spanish Electrical Regs so a boletin can be issued. So everything you say that has happened sounds perfectly correct.

    Unfortunately if the power line feeding the property needs upgrading also the cost is borne by the customer. Sounds unfair but that's how it is in Spain.

    I expect there will be many similar cases in Castellion and eventually the rest of Spain as more Smart Grids go on line.

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