Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Our main panel. Wanting to be powered up.

Our electrical service was installed. But now, due to some misunderstandings and permit issues, we can't get hooked up. I was hoping it was straightforward, when I picked up the permit last week from the Inspections Group.  I even had it all scheduled today for the inspector to come by.  But he calls to say why is the permit for an underground service?  And then why was it issued to someone who isn't a master electrician? I didn't realize you needed a master electrician to "pull the permit" for any service over 100 amps.  All I wanted was a simple electrical service at 150 amps so I can have some power for continuing work! Nope.  Not only do I need a master electrician to pull the permit, I also need Epcor Power to provide a letter to the permit people stating that 150 amps is available to me! So, I call Epcor.  And then I get transfered to "Metering" then transfered again to customer engineering. Only then to get the guy who is away until Jan. 14. I phone and listen more closely, to get the number of his covering person.  I call them- and it's 12:15pm- and go directly to "I'm away from my desk..." Lunch time.  Sheesh.  So, I call the "Inspections Group"  to see what they know. So they tell me they made a mistake issuing the permit. And I need a master electrician. And even if I want a 100 amp temporary service, I have to pay a termporary service fee of $177 and change, not to mention pay Epcor to connect the "temporary" service. And that could be hundreds more. Wow. So, I'll stop ranting now.

I was thinking 150 amps would be reasonable, as we are using electric baseboard heating. We are also going to have an induction range/oven. And an HRV. And a PV system. And a basement suite. And power to a future bike garage/workshop. So, better be safe than sorry with 150 amps, right? Sigh.

So, hopefully in 2 weeks, Epcor will send out a crew to check if a 150 amps will be do-able with the existing pole-mounted transformer and capacity for our neighbourhood.

I only wished they would have told me to get this sorted a few weeks ago- or at my building permit stage.

This is where the service comes into the house.

I need a power meter!
The panel is connected to the grounding plate.

Service reaching up to the overhead power line.


  1. Shafraaz and Serena,
    Your story makes one wish they lived Off Grid.
    I find that exploring the blogs posted by you, Conrad and others is incredibly educational, not only for all the innovative ideas and the technical information, but also because of the tales about the unexpected setbacks and problems that the lay person never anticipates. Informing us of your problems and obstacles could make our lives easier when we begin our own build. Thank you.
    Would it help to write a letter to the head of the hydro permit office. Explain the circumstances. Point out that just because their staff know about all the rules and regulations there are many people, such as yourselves, who do not. It would be useful and avoid unexpected delays if their first questions to an applicant were - "Are you a licensed master electrician?" "Have you ever applied for a permit before?" They could create a short, but informative brochure with FAQs and an outline of what is required to get a permit with the time lines etc. They could post this info on a website and direct people to that site. Some solutions are not that difficult, if the person behind the counter takes the time to put themselves in the shoes of the neophyte. All of us find ourselves on the newbie side of the counter at some point in our lives.
    Good Luck. Have a wonderful Christmas and best wishes for the New Year. - Jim

  2. Shafraaz I feel for you --!!! That is just incredible -- I find it amazing when the people who 'should' know don't know and yet they expect you to 'know' and guess who has to pay the price?!!

    I hope that your next tries to get this straightened out go smoother.

  3. Hello Jim:
    Thank you for the encouraging words! And Merry Christmas and all the best of the season to you and your family too!

    Hey Mom: Yup, we'll straighten out the electrical people one way or another!

  4. I tried writing this earlier, but the post didn't take.

    Anyways, where we were upgrading from 60A, I also had to navigate Epcor phone directory to talk to the right person. Took 3 or 4 calls. The final person I talked to mentioned that I could do 100 or 150 or even 200A, as there was still room on the pole transformer for the area (they can tell online). But it's a first come first serve system until the transformer is at capacity. At that point, they schedule an upgrade to the transformer, but that could take months and months. We went with 100A and have not had a problem. With your super insulated house, I would think you could do 100A, but maybe 150A just to play it safe. USually the main wire from the street will be capable of handling 150A, so then it's just a matter of changing out the main breaker and possibly breaker box.
    Have you done any computer modeling/simulation to determine energy demands throughout the year?

  5. Hello nobleea,

    Thanks for your post and persistence!

    We did do some energy modelling- you can see our Hot2000 results here:


    I think 150 amps would be good so that we can plan for any future site development. I'm hoping in the future, we'll build a garage suite/workshop, so I'd rather have enough capacity now while we put it in. We are also developing a basement suite, so there will be 2 stoves/ranges in the house.

  6. Mr. Kaba, congratulations on your Net Zero project. EPCOR supports any consumer initiative to conserve both power and water.

    I'm sorry to hear that you had trouble. We'd like the opportunity to clear this up. We've Twitter-DM'd you the number of someone who can help you today.

    Also, this might be of help: the EPCOR Customer Connection Guide. Page 12 outlines permit information.


    Tim LeRiche
    Public and Government Affairs

  7. now, that's service! I'm glad to see that you're reaching the right people with this blog, Shafraaz!

  8. Yup, that's good service! I am pleased that Epcor was able to step it up and get the power issue resolved for us before Christmas! So, we have heard that our requested 150 amp service should be ok- and it has even been followed through with the Inspectiongs Group- and they are waiting for the master electrician to submit the forms! Yay! Thanks to Tim, Wendy and Danielle at Epcor for their help!