The end of unmetered supplies?

edited March 2012 in General
Hello all

One of our electricity providers in London - UKPN - have made it quite clear that they interpret new guidance on unmetered supplies as requiring an electricity meter for all supplies where the total connected load exceeds 500W. For us, this would mean almost all of our ~5,000 traffic signal installations (let's hope it only applies to new connections).

In our experience the installation of meters delays projects and adds significantly to operating costs, not to mention the cost of replacing feeder pillars with something big enough to fit a meter in.

People might be interested in the "Consultation on draft guidance in relation to the Electricity (Unmetered Supply) Regulations 2001":

The draft guidance certainly suggests that traffic signal installations are not automatically entitled to an unmetered supply. The prinicpal difficulty seems to be that traffic signal installations are not regarded as a "predictable" load - perhaps due to wait lamp appearance, dimming, or even starting ambers.

So my questions are:
* What is happening in the rest of the country?
* Do different Distribution Network Operators or Electricity Suppliers take different stances?
* Has anyone started installing metered electricity supplies as a matter of course for street equipment (in particular traffic signals)?

Any input appreciated. If you'd rather reply off-forum, feel free to email:


  • Danel,

    it would, of course, “helped" if we'd had "heads up" on this before (even I'm not sad enough to frequent BIS web site!)
    If users want to review and make comments IHE can co-ordinate but it would be after consultation has formally closed (we could argue that metered supplies are unnecessary "red tape" that LA's should be released from??)

  • We were told this several years ago by UKPN (then EDF) and have had several meters installed since. Only our junctions typically need meters as most crossings can still go in with less than a 25A supply.

    There is some delay but this can be managed and there is not much increase in cost. The DNO will often install the supply on time and 3 months after the site is switched on, the Supply Company will phone asking which house to install the meter into.

    The biggest problem that we are facing is the apparent inability of the DNO and the electricity supply companies to manage their estates. Few, if any, of the meter numbers that they put on our bills relate to our sites and they are quite happy to add anything with 'County Council' as the owner to the traffic signals account. They have also threatened to disconnect supplies to traffic signals that do not relate to whatever unpaid bill they are chasing.
  • To date we have managed to avoid the use of meters at our signal sites. Several years ago we had some useful discussions with representatives from the DNO who agreed that it was impractical, given the cost of it all and the relatively low useage, to install meters at existing sites. Fortunately they didn't ask for them at new sites either.

    We've had no contact on this issue since those discussions. However, in my opinion the option has always been available for a metered supply to be insisted upon but common sense has prevailed. This latest consultation doesn't seem to change that possibility, but it clarifies some points - page 10 seems to suggest that street furniture is still an appropriate use of unmetered supplies. The biggest issue seems to be that some Authorities didn't correctly maintain their inventory and so were claiming a lower useage than reality. If that's the case then I have no sympathy with them and if unmetered supplies are forced on them then I think that's fair enough. We update our inventory 6 monthly (it also includes VMS, CCTV cameras and RTI signs) which is a very manageable interval.
  • All new sites in Plymouth have to have them.

    This means one company provides the new Haldo and ducts, one provides the supply, one provides the meter, someone supplies the secondary isolator, someone makes sure the supply and Haldo are Earth Bonded, then Siemens come in and connect it up.

    How could anything possibly go wrong?

    The supplier then sends estimated bills as they never read the meter, sometimes to us (as the outsouced operator), sometmes to the supply address, sometimes to the client (the council) and sometimes to Parking dept. We have to go out every few months to read the meters and supply accurate readings, as they increase their estimates every year. Fortunately we are a fairly compact and lightly trafficked city, so it only takes half a day to drive around and read them all.
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