Sorting out the electrics

elec meterWhile we’re pausing to let the weather catch up with us, here’s an update on progress on some of the services we need in our new house. We’d been warned that it could take months for an electricity supply to appear, and with a target completion date only 4 months away, we didn’t want to hang around.

Fairly obviously we are going to need a connection to the electricity supply. OK, we’ll have some photovoltaic panels on the roof but they won’t generate enough power for the whole house, and certainly won’t generate electricity at the time of day we’ll need it most.

So, how do you get connected?

In Scotland the first stop is Scottish Power. Specifically SP Energy, the power distribution arm of Scottish Power. They are responsible for getting electricity from a nearby mains supply across your building plot and into your house.

Then you have to speak to one of the many electricity companies to get them to attach a meter to the main supply so they can start billing you.

So Step 1: SP Energy. We filled in their application form and provided a site plan. We asked for a single phase 18kva supply with the potential for feeding electricity back into the Grid. We provided a diagram showing where the nearest supply is located (across the lane but with a duct already in place to get a cable onto our land.) It also showed that we needed at least 35metres of cable to get from the current supply across the plot into our utility room.

Step 2. SP Energy talk to us! A supply designer rang me up to discuss the application. We quickly established that we would need nearer 50 metres of cable. This meant we would be “given” cable suitable for 3 phase supply but that we should attach a standard 1 phase meter to it. Sadly this doubled the cost of providing the supply to over £2000.

Step 3: SP Energy visit us on site! Davie turned up in a large van with 50 metres of red ducting. We went and examined the trench in which they would attach our joint to the existing supply, and the duct under the lane. We talked about the route round the garage our supply would take. Davie left us with about 35 metres of the red ducting and the instruction to use only 10 metres of it – putting a 3 phase cable into the full 50 metres of ducting would lead it to heat up too much, losing energy as it does so.

Step 3.5: Getting the duct into the house. We got hold of the ducting at the right time to enable our builder to dig a trench into the right location in the house. We could then lay the red ducting so that it passes through the lintolled access point in the foundations and pops up in the utility room. All this before we pour any of the concrete slab.

Step 4: Select a supply company. SP Energy made this easy. They supplied us with a list of suppliers in our area, and an MPAN number to act as a reference to the supply. I phoned Ecotricity, had a perfectly civil conversation with their connection representative and signed up for a meter with them.

Step 5: It just remains for us to contact SP Energy when we are ready with a meter board in the utility room for them to terminate the supply cable on. They then thread the new cable through the trench and ducting we’ll have in place for them. All they have to do is provide the cable – all ground works will be carried out by our builder, Stanley Brash. Ecotricity will come along 2 days later and give us a temporary meter which will be finalized when we have completed all the electric second fix work.

So, nearly all done. And not too difficult to sort out. We’ll see how the installation itself pans out.

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