19 May 2013

Smart Meters prevent Illegal Electricity Upgrades


UPGRADING AN electricity supply is required when you need more power than you are contracted for with your electricity supplier. This is evident when the electricity supply constantly cuts off when using appliances. This is caused by having too many switched on at the same time, and it causes an overload to the system. The overload indicates the amount of electrical power required to work all the appliances is insufficient for the consumption requirements of the user. Hence an upgrade is needed to the contracted power supply. 

The contracted power supply (potencia contratada) is stated in kilowatts (kW) on your contract and electricity bill. It is the amount of electrical power that you agree and sign up for with the electricity supplier when moving in to a property. It is the maximum amount of power you are allowed under the terms and conditions of the contract. The contracted power supply is controlled by a power limiter called an Interrupter de Control de Potencia (ICP). 

Properties with a contracted power supply of 3.3 kW or less are generally those which need to upgrade. The ICP trips out when the appliances used total more than 3300 Watts. It is not possible use an oven and washing machine together because both are high powered appliances. Running a modern day home with only 3.3 kW available is practically impossible, and those who do, have to supplement gas appliances for cooking, heating and hot water production. 

The new generation of electricity meters, called Smart Meters, currently being fitted across Alicante are fitted with an automatic ICP. When fully operational, Smart Meters will control electricity consumption and other operations remotely via a state-of-the-art communications system. Their introduction prevents the malpractice of illegal electricity upgrades. 

An illegal upgrade is one where the current manual type ICP has been subject to tampering. It will have been disconnected, by-passed or changed without authorisation from the electricity supplier. This is normally evident by the approved seal being removed or tampered with. To legally upgrade an electricity supply an electrician must be employed to produce a boletin aka BIE (electrical installation certificate). 

All across Spain, traditional meters are being replaced with Smart Meters. The region of Alicante is scheduled to have them replaced by the end of this year. A possible consequence for property owners is they are not contracted for sufficient electrical power. Soon illegal upgrades will be a thing of the past.