How to get electricity service connected
Whether you’re moving into a new house or opening a new business location, you’re going to want to get the electricity service turned on. No one wants to walk in the door, only to find out that someone dropped the ball and the whole place is still dark. So what do you need to do to make sure everything is powered up–when you want it to be? When it comes to setting up electricity service, there are three basic scenarios when you connect to the electric grid:
- Moving into an existing location that has previously had electricity service
- Setting up a new location that has never had electricity service
- Connecting a renewable energy system to an existing electricity source
Same day electricity connection
In most cases, electricity simply needs to be turned on at a location where there has previously been electricity service. Whether you’re moving into a house, apartment, or office building, this is likely what you will need to do. This also happens to be the easiest and fastest process. Power can often be on within hours–same day electricity connection!
What you need to do:
Barring unusual circumstances, any retail energy provider should be able to get your power connected in a matter of hours. All you need to do, then, is call an electricity provider and tell them you need the power turned on. While this might seem to make the process easier, it actually adds a layer of complication. How do you choose from the hundreds of electricity service providers out there?
The obvious answer might be to select the electricity provider with the lowest energy rate. These days, it’s a quick process to get on the internet and compare companies. However, not all energy plans are created equal. Simply selecting the electricity plan with the lowest rate might cause you to pay more from the extra fees or additional line-items. Some electricity services come with certain conveniences (or inconveniences) that could also change the overall value of the service. And of course, there’s customer service to take into consideration. Is the company reputable? What do its customers have to say about the experience?
TruEnergy can simplify this process for you. Our advisors can help you navigate the available electricity plans to find the service that works best for your individual energy needs. Give us a call today!
Turn on electricity for the first time
If you are moving into a newly constructed home or office, there is a little more involved in getting the electricity service turned on. Before you get the power turned on, you will need to get a permit from the city or county. An inspector will have to come to the location and make sure all the electric work is up to code. Once you have that permit, you simply have to have an electricity provider turn the power on, as outlined in the previous section.
Grid-connected renewable energy
Some people don’t want to be reliant on the energy grid, and with the right setup of renewable energy systems, such as solar panels, you don’t necessarily have to be connected to the local network. Most people, however, still prefer to be connected for a couple of reasons:
- A connection to the grid ensures there will be electricity service at all times, even if it is overcast or raining. Wind, sunlight, and water are good sources for free electricity generation, but a small renewable energy system is not consistent. If the source of your power generation is not there for a time, and if you don’t connect to the energy grid, your only options are to use expensive electricity storage devices such as batteries, or do without power.
- Any excess electricity that is generated by the customer’s system can be “sold back” to the grid. In effect, the extra electricity your solar panels generate on a sunny day can be saved and used to make up for their shortfall when it’s cloudy outside. This is typically calculated in one of two ways:
- With an arrangement called net metering, the provider charges or pays you depending on the difference in the amount of electricity your home energy system generates and the amount you use. If, at the end of the cycle, you have used more electricity than you have generated, you pay them based on the difference. If you have generated more energy than you use, they pay you for the difference.
- Instead of this, some providers may offer plans that use “Net purchase and sale.” With this method, the provider charges one rate for all the electricity used from the grid and pays a different (usually substantially lower) rate for all the excess electricity put back into the grid. This is not nearly as good an arrangement for the customer since, even if you generate more than you use, you can still owe the energy provider because of the difference in rates.
Aside from the equipment that produces the electricity, there are additional requirements that allow you to connect a home renewable energy system into the energy grid. This equipment includes:
- Equipment that establishes a safe connection
- Requirements from the power provider or local utility commission
- Following state and local codes
How to connect renewable energy systems to the grid
Special equipment, often referred to as balance-of-system equipment, allows your electricity connections to transmit the load safely, according to your provider’s grid-connection requirements. A reputable installer should be able to help you with this, and in most cases, this will include:
- Power conditioning equipment – Most renewable energy sources generate DC (direct current) electricity. Special equipment is needed, therefore, to convert this into the AC (alternating current) that is used by most appliances.
- Safety equipment – Lightning, power surges, and equipment malfunctions can cause costly damage to the electric system. Various forms of safety equipment help to minimize the damage or even eliminate the risk.
- Automatic safety disconnects help protect the system from power surges.
- Manual safety disconnects allow the system to be shut off for service or in case of emergency.
- Grounding equipment allows lightning to discharge straight to the ground instead of passing through the power connection.
- Surge protection protects your equipment if it–or even the power lines in the area–are struck by lightning.
- Metering and monitoring instruments – If you are putting electricity back into the grid, you will want to be able to track voltage, usage, storage levels, etc.
Connection requirements from the utility commission or provider
In order to maintain certain standards, grid-connected renewable energy sources have to meet various requirements about the quality of electricity (such as the conversion from DC to AC) or the safety of the system. Some of these requirements are the same as those mentioned above, but providers may also have special insurance requirements to cover damages, contract terms, metering, rates, or fees for these customers. This will be another issue you can use to compare electricity service providers.
The local utility commission may also have its own policies, so you should be sure to get with them as well.
State and local codes for connections to the grid
Several organizations have developed guidelines in the hopes of establishing a standard for safety when you connect to the energy grid. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), Underwriters Laboratories (UL), and the National Electrical Code (NEC) have created their own standards for many of the previously mentioned safety measures. At this time, states and retail electricity providers are not required to conform to any of these standards, but many do so anyway. Your installer, electricity provider or utility commission can provide you with the specific regulations in your area.