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For immediate release:
8:00 a.m. – Thursday, October 22, 2020

Don’t make a $400 mistake. Call San Isabel Electric before having any electrical work done on your meter. If your wire meter seal is cut or removed by anyone else except San Isabel Electric – even a contractor – it will cost you $400 or more.

SIEA does not charge for temporary disconnects that occur during business hours, or during emergency situations. There is a charge if an SIEA employee needs to de-energize a meter after hours.

Broken meter seals could lead to legal action, a bad credit rating, and potential loss of electric service for the member whose meter shows signs of tampering.

Accidental electrocution, electrical fires, explosions, and death are other more serious potential repercussions from breaking the seal, much more costly than the financial or legal consequences.

SIEA encourages everyone having electrical work done to ask themselves if saving a little time or money is worth any of those risks.

Meter seals are a safety precaution, but they also prevent others from stealing electricity. Electric meter tampering and diversion of electricity are crimes that can lead to arrest and conviction.

Electrical work such as replacing your breaker box, upgrading your service to add more breakers or power, and adding solar power or stand by generators are just a few common tasks that would require an SIEA employee to de-energize the meter.

Regardless of what the contractor or anyone else says, the member is liable for the $400 tampering fee that is assessed when meter seals are cut, or absent.

Anytime a member is planning to hire a contractor or to do electrical work themselves involving the meter, the member needs to call SIEA at 800-279-SIEA, so SIEA can de-energize the meter, work can be safely completed, and power can be safely restored.

Most electrical work requires an inspection prior to re-energizing the meter. Members should coordinate the inspection so that any power disruptions are minimal.

A list of approved inspectors, as well as contact information, is available from your local government’s building or zoning department.

In recent years, SIEA has seen an increase in broken meter seals. Due to the potential dangers, the co-op is increasing outreach and education to remind members of the physical dangers of cutting the seal, and the $400 charge if the meter seal is broken, tampered with or missing.

“The 120/240 voltage in the meter is deadly. We don’t want to charge a tampering fee. But we really don’t want to get a call that someone was killed or seriously injured because a meter box was tampered with. The $400 charge is the lesser of two evils,” Chief Engineering & Operations Officer Darryl Stewart said.

The co-op’s increased outreach education efforts include:

  • Stickers placed on new meters beginning in late 2020.
  • Email warning notices will be sent to all members with an email address on file.
  • On-bill notices warning of fines associated with cutting the seal.

“Most of the time it’s not licensed contractors that are cutting the seal. Licensed contractors are putting their licenses in danger by cutting the seals. It’s usually a friend, family member, or someone that was hired by word of mouth, without a license – those are the one’s that we see most often cut the seal, and the member gets stuck with the fine,” Stewart said.

Not even an experienced electrician has permission to remove the meter seal.

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As a not-for-profit cooperative utility, San Isabel Electric provides affordable, reliable electricity with exceptional service to communities throughout southern Colorado. Serving nearly 20,000 member-owners and 24,000 meters, San Isabel Electric has been keeping the lights on since 1938. We don’t just serve communities. We are part of communities.