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This question is an exact duplicate of:

If I cut the pin on my meter and remove the meter in order to replace the incoming power breaker, will I get in trouble? I live in the United States.

marked as duplicate by ThreePhaseEel, Daniel Griscom, Machavity, Retired Master Electrician, Tyson Mar 13 at 22:57

This question was marked as an exact duplicate of an existing question.

  • Who is your electric utility? – ThreePhaseEel Mar 2 at 15:23
  • Duke energy is the utility company. – Karl Seigler Mar 2 at 15:35
  • Furthermore, what state do you live in? – ThreePhaseEel Mar 2 at 16:09
  • North Carolina. – Karl Seigler Mar 2 at 17:40
  • One other thing -- is this main breaker replacement something you can schedule, or are you dealing with an emergency (such as a failed main breaker)? – ThreePhaseEel Mar 2 at 22:02
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This is generally a contract (utility rules) problem

For just about all utilities in the US, what happens if you break a meter seal is governed first and foremost by your utility's service rules. Typically, the primary punishment for such thing is the utility denying you service; if actual theft of electricity is discovered, they can go further by taking the thief to court. However, for cases like yours, where a meter needs to be pulled for work, there will be processes in place, either to accept requests for disconnects for scheduleable service, or to allow the breaking of meter seals for emergency work.

For the former, Duke Energy simply has you call their residential customer service line (7AM-9PM EST) and ask them, with 24h notice, of wanting to "drop service" at a specific time, and then have it "re-tapped" when the work's done, as per their page on the topic. For a true emergency scenario, they also have a procedure by which one can cut the meter seal, then call, but that will require them to come out in person to reseal the meter when done; with modern smart meters, they can drop your service remotely by triggering a disconnect internal to the meter, which makes this sort of request far easier for them to handle.

  • Definitely call your utility company and discuss. I had my house re-sided a number of years ago, and the contractor needed to open the meter box to unscrew it from the existing siding and slide new material behind it. I called National Grid (Mass) and asked, and they didn't bat an eye. They said go ahead and call for an inspection and re-seal when done. Almost painless. – DaveM Mar 3 at 17:45
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Working in this field for many years, today most utilities will make you jump through hoops if you remove the seal and pull the meter, in the past I had replacement seals as long as the work was permitted, or an emergency where the main was inside the home but the line between the meter and the main was down. Today that is not allowed and some utilities require a new electrical permit prior to connecting a service that the seal has been broken to prevent fraud or this is what I was told.

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ASFAIK you are not allowed to break the seals on the meter, but you are allowed to break the seals on the incoming fuses which are before the meter.

Once you have replaced what you need to you are allowed to re-fit them. Then you call the electricity company and they will re-seal or tag the fuses. They have the right to do a safety inspection if they choose to do so.

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    They have fines for that sort of thing. (Partly because people steal power before it gets to the meter.) Get in touch with your POCO and just talk to them about how to fix whatever is going on. – Aloysius Defenestrate Mar 2 at 15:15
  • This is the process in the UK (or was... they may have changed it) but in their eyes, there is valid reason to remove the fuses - but no valid reason to interfere with the meter... And I have done that and got the Electricity provider to come out after : who asked "what did you do?" and once they knew said, "fine, we'll just tag and be off..." – Solar Mike Mar 2 at 15:17
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    There are no incoming fuses in most US power setups -- they are fully hot sequence metered (meter-switch-fuse) – ThreePhaseEel Mar 2 at 15:23
  • @ThreePhaseEel the UK system has supply fuses prior to the meter so that any serious fault "house-side" does not affect the supply to other houses in the street... As the OP has now clarified the location that makes it clearer... – Solar Mike Mar 2 at 15:27
  • It's an older system – Karl Seigler Mar 2 at 15:35

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