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You DO NOT Have to Move Your Meters Outside Even if National Grid Tells You To

Several months ago I wanted to upgrade the electrical service of a 5-unit that I own – I wanted to install an owner’s meter, new outside wire and switch panels.

The electrician told me that I have to move all the meters outside per National Grid. The price difference was $3,000.

The electrical inspector told me that it’s not a requirement of the electrical code and the fire department told me that either way (inside or outside) they are OK.

I sent an email to National Grid asking them to provide me with the reason why they need the meters outside. I briefly described what I wanted to accomplish and asked them to provide me with the law or regulation they are relying on to make all property owners who want to upgrade their service go through the extra expense to move the meters outside in this economy and in general.

Repeatedly they told me that that’s the way they’ve done it for a long time and I am not the only one. If they did it for me, they have to do it for all…you know, the usual crap.

After months of stalling, they provided me with a link to the booklet that supposedly gave them those rights. I looked at it but there was nothing in it. Besides, I told them that even if there was something in it, we, as property owners, are only required to meet the electrical code not to exceed it and there is nothing in it to that effect.

I called the Department of Public Safety and they took my side and told me that National Grid cannot demand that we move the meters outside and they would “talk to them”.

A week or so later National Grid called me and told me that they are going to “let me” upgrade my service without moving the meters outside.

I thanked them but I wanted it in writing (a quick email) because I had been told that after you are in the middle of the job, then they insist on you moving them or they don’t start the power.

The email never came. I called the guy and he told me that the powers-to-be in the office are pushing back and do not think it should be in writing.

Finally they put in writing that they do not allow me to keep them inside in an email that basically admits that the law is not on their side.

“Mr. Simov,

I appreciate your patience in this matter. It is a requirement of National Grid that meters be installed outdoors for all new installations and for all service upgrades.

We maintain our option to exercise this right based on specific language in our Information and Requirements Handbook 2000, Page 73, which states, “In multiple occupancy buildings, for residential or commercial use, meters may be installed indoors in one common location accessible to all occupants.” Our decision is hinged upon the word “may” and National Grid has campaigned to make it a requirement to have meters installed outdoors for all new installations and for service upgrades.”

I called the Department of Public Utilities again and forwarded the email because I didn’t want to be bothered to sue National Grid to make them comply with the law (but someone should because what they are engaging in is in violation of 93A knowingly and willfully – triple damages and attorney fees and they are causing actual injuries to a class of landlords in MA).

A couple of days ago a different person from National Grid finally put it in writing that I can upgrade my service without moving meters outside.

If you have been asked to move your meters outside and therefore had to spend more money than you should, you may need to talk to your lawyer.