Metering


Meter Base Ratings; 100, 200, & 320 Services

Electric meters are supplied and owned by Flathead Electric Cooperative (FEC). Meter bases are the responsibility and property of the member. Meter bases that do not meet the requirements listed below will not be approved to be energized.

Voltage: 120/240

  • 100 amp rating: Common on older homes, outbuildings, and wells
  • 200 amp rating: Most common service size. Small to medium homes.
  • 320 amp rating:  Large homes, homes with heat pumps, or to supply 200 amps to the home and 200 amps to an outbuilding or shop.

Voltage: 120/240*:

  • Over 320 amp rating: Very large homes and home sites with multiple outbuildings. 400 amps and over require CT metering.
  • All amp ratings: Gang Metering / “House” Meter

Voltage: 120/208*:

  • 100 to 200 amp rating: Apartment and townhome metering.

All* Voltages with All Amp Ratings

  • Net Metering—Solar, Wind, or other generation connected to FEC’s system.

*See FEC’s Non-Residential Electric Service Handbook. Will need to submit specification sheets and obtain pre-approval from FEC’s metering department.

100 Amp, 200 Amp, & 320 Amp Services Must Meet These Requirements

  • Underwriters Laboratory (UL) approved.
  • Rated for exterior use, and be rain-tight according to NEMA-3R.
  • Must be located on an outside wall.
  • FEC will not accept meter bases that are set flush or semi-flush.
  • Protected from ice, snow, and debris unloading from the roof.
  • All unused openings must be tightly sealed from the inside of the base.
  • Be plumb and securely fastened to the supporting structure.
  • Must have a main disconnect.
  • Must have a ring-type meter socket. Ringless meter sockets are not acceptable.
  • Rated for 120/240 volts and 100, 200, or 320 amps.
  • Contain four meter jaws and one connection point for the neutral conductor.
  • Meter socket must be between four and one-half to six feet at center from finished grade.

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Meter Location Requirements

Typical 200 Amp Meter Base

You must install your meter base where it will be accessible to FEC at all times. All locations are subject to approval by an FEC representative.

FEC requires placing the meter base on the quadrant of your house closest to the FEC transformer. Any deviations must be preapproved by FEC.

Approved meter location on side of house outside of fenced backyard


Electrical Equipment on Your Property

Even when located on your property, electrical equipment is the property of Flathead Electric, and must remain accessible to Coop crews at all times. Why?

  • Emergencies: In the event of a fire, crews must be able to shut the power off before firefighters can begin their work. Every second counts during such a critical event.
  • Maintenance: Flathead Electric routinely checks and maintains the meters to make sure equipment hasn’t been damaged and is in good working order.
  • Outages: Some equipment must be accessed in the event of a power outage. Inaccessible equipment causes longer outages for you and your neighbors.

If we can’t access equipment, we have to contact the member and return at a later date. That’s inefficient for our workforce, costly to your Co-op, and it could be dangerous in an emergency situation.Thank you for keeping everyone safe by keeping electrical equipment on your property accessible!

Electric Meters

Two meters, one covered and one uncovered showing to leave meter uncoveredElectric meters are the property of Flathead Electric and must be accessible by Co-op crews. Some members have opted to enclose the electric meters on their property for aesthetic purposes. Enclosed meters must still be accessible (unlocked hinged door, for example) and unobstructed. FEC has worked with state electrical inspectors and local fire departments to come up with this list of criteria to safely enclose meter bases.

Flathead Electric requires that all meters and meter bases remain safely accessible and prefers that they remain uncovered. FEC does recognize that some members opt to enclose their meters for aesthetic purposes. In an effort to compromise and maintain safe working conditions, FEC will allow meters to be enclosed but the following guidelines must be adhered to:

  • The meter base shall always be accessible to FEC employees.
  • The meter base shall always be on the outside of the house, building, structure, etc.
  • Any enclosure shall have hinged doors and handles for opening.
  • Hinges are only allowed on the sides of the doors to prevent doors from opening vertically.
  • Doors shall not be locked, nailed, screwed, or otherwise fastened closed.
  • Doors shall open fully to a minimum of 90 degrees, not restricting access or working space.
  • Cross bracing and flooring will not be acceptable in a meter enclosure.
  • Enclosure openings shall not extend to the ground where snow and other materials could prevent or deter opening
  • The opening shall be at least 30 inches wide, and at least as wide as all of the electrical equipment inside plus 10 inches on either side
  • The meter, meter base, CT can, disconnect switches, and any other apparatus shall be completely exposed and accessible when the enclosure door is open.
  • An enclosed meter base and all equipment shall be rated for exterior use and be rain-tight according to NEMA-3R.
  • There shall always be a minimum of three feet of clear flat working space maintained in front of the meter and all apparatus.
  • All other FEC meter and meter base requirements and clearances shall still be met including proper separation from other utilities.
  • All applicable local, state, and federal codes shall be followed.

Having safe and easy access to meters is not only for the benefit and safety of Flathead Electric employees and others that need to work on your electrical equipment, it is for the protection of your building, property, and possibly your life in the case of emergency. First responders look for meters and their associated disconnecting devices when they report to structure fires.

Protecting Your Meter from Snow & Ice

Heavy snow and ice coming off your roof can damage Flathead Electric’s meter or your electric equipment, which may cause outages and lead to costly repairs. To avoid broken or damaged meters and equipment, members should consider placing a protective structure over their meter base in areas where heavy snowfall or ice buildup is likely.

Locked Gates

If you have a locked gate or secured private property, Flathead Electric offers several options for property owners to ensure that we can access it when needed:

  • gate with padlockIn the case of a coded gate, the property owner can provide Flathead Electric Cooperative with a gate code or 24/7 contact information enabling us to gain immediate access to equipment. Some systems allow you to set up additional codes just for utilities and other approved visitors. The code will only be used to access our system and will never be shared outside FEC.
  • In the case of a gate requiring a key, Flathead Electric Cooperative can furnish a lock (right) for the property owner enabling both the property owner’s key and a key retained by Flathead Electric Cooperative to work.

We respect your privacy and right for security as a property owner, and we will only access our equipment when necessary to provide reliable and safe service to our members.

Padmount transformerPadmount Transformers

Flathead Electric crews need room to work safely around padmount transformers. Please keep shrubs and fences 10 feet away from the side with doors and 5 feet away from all other sides. Obstructions closer to the transformer may be damaged or removed during service restorations and maintenance.

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Meter Base Installation Requirements & Material List

Member supplied meter base with a plastic insulating bushing and metal lock ring connecting the base to the threaded slip joint. Use schedule 80 PVC above grade. Do not sweep directly into slip joint. The continuous copper ground wire landed in member side. The copper ground rods shall be driven and left above finished grade for inspection only. After inspection they should be embedded below permanent moisture level. Secure and protect copper ground wire from physical damage. There should be a six foot separation minimum between the ground rods. There should be a four foot six inch minimum to 6 feet max from finish grade between the meter and ground.

 

Meter Base that contains a main disconnect breaker on the Member side of the meter, and 4 terminal, ring type, and wire landing lugs on the FEC side of the meter.

  1. Member Supplied Meter Base
    1. 4 Terminal
    2. Ring Type
    3. Wire Landing Lugs
    4. Main Disconnect Breaker
  2. Plastic Insulating Bushing
  3. Metal Lock Ring
  4. Threaded Slip Joint
  5. Continuous Copper Ground in accordance with the NEC. Use 6 AWG or larger.
  6. Two 5/8 inch Copper Ground Rods and Clamps

After energizing your meter base, FEC will lock the FEC (meter) side of the base with a tamper seal and leave the main breaker in the off position.

Concrete-encased electrode (UFER) Ground Exception. FEC will accept UFER grounds as an alternative to driving two copper ground rods. UFER grounds must meet NEC code and be inspected by an FEC designer or electrical inspector. An electrode encased by at least two inches of concrete, located within and near the bottom of a concrete foundation or footing that is in direct contact with earth, consisting of at least 20 feet of one or more bare or zinc galvanized or other electrically conductive coated steel reinforcing bars or rods of not less than 1/2 inch diameter, or consisting of at least 20 feet of bare copper conductor not smaller than 4 American Wire Gauge (AWG). Reinforcing bars shall be permitted to be bonded together by the usual steel tie wires or other effective means.

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Class 320 Amp Ground & Bonding

Typical Class 320 Amp Ground and Bonding

FEC side of meter base in between member side of meter panels of meter with ground wire bonding meter base and sub panels, and continuous ground wire landed in member side with a six foot separation minimum between the copper rods. Ground rods should be driven and left above finished grade for inspection only, then embedded below permanent moisture level. Secure and protect copper ground wire from physical damage.


Meter Base Clearance Requirements — Underground Feed

Vertical Clearance form elevation view showing the meter should have 10 inches of space above it, and 72 inches of space from floor to ceiling. Horizontal Clearances from plan view shows that the work space in front of the meter base should be 36 inches by 36 inches, and there should be a 10 inch minimum from the meter base to the sidewall, and a 36 inch minimum from the meter to the gas/liquefied petroleum gas.

Vertical Clearance

  • 72-inches headroom from floor to ceiling
  • 10-inches minimum from meter base to ceiling

Horizontal Clearance

  • 10-inches minimum from meter base to sidewall
  • 36-inches minimum from gas/liquefied petroleum gas tank
  • 36-inches by 36-inches work space in front of meter base

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Meter Pedestals — Underground Feed

Factory Built Meter Pedestal

Factory built meter pedestal

This is a factory-built meter pedestal. This setup is most common in mobile home and RV parks. The grounding requirements are the same as a typical service mounted on a home.

Installation note: For factory-built pedestals to accept wide radius sweeps, the trench and conduit will need to be excavated much deeper than a normal service.

Custom Built Meter Pedestal

Custom built meter pedestal

There are many variations that can be utilized when building a custom meter pedestal. Some are extravagant but most are simple. The requirements are the same as placing a meter on a home.

Only materials that are made for outside exposure should be used (for example green, treated lumber, unistrut, or steel).

The base supports shall be rigid to keep the base from moving and vibrating.

Temporary Service

Most service installations can be coordinated to provide your permanent service early in the construction process. This will eliminate the need for a temporary service, in turn, eliminating an additional visit to your construction site and additional costs to you. However, if temporary service is required for your project, FEC will connect it under the following conditions:

  • You or your electrician must submit a state electrical inspection permit to FEC. Temporary services are allowed for the duration of your electrical permit.
  • FEC will collect a separate charge for temporary services.
  • Temporary meter loops and pedestals will be provided by you or your electrical contractor. Only one ground rod is required for temporary services.
  • Temporary services should be located adjacent to an FEC transformer or secondary pedestal.
  • Must have enough wire stubbed out from the wire landing lugs to connect directly to FEC facilities. Members (or their contractors) shall not extend wire into FEC equipment.
  • Member (or their contractor) shall expose the bottom of transformer wells and secondary pedestals or concrete vault knockouts. Contact FEC’s distribution design department with questions regarding exposing FEC equipment.
  • A primary line extension will be necessary if a secondary pedestal or transformer are not located on your property.

Removing & Installing Meters

Only authorized and qualified FEC personnel shall remove and install meters. Qualified electricians with prior approval from FEC may remove a meter to disconnect the service only under abnormal or emergency conditions.

Note: With some types of meter bases, removal of the meter does not de-energize the members’ system. The purpose of FEC’s seals on meters and associated service equipment is to prevent injury and/or tampering.

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Overhead Service Requirements

Before installing an overhead meter base, please contact FEC to set up an appointment with a distribution designer to assist in determining an acceptable location for the proposed service. All overhead services must meet National Electrical Code (NEC) code requirements.

overhead meter on house
Safety Matters! Stay away from overhead power lines. Contact FEC prior to performing any work within 15 feet of power lines.

You must clear and maintain a clear path for the overhead service line from trees. Overhead service lines through trees are a safety hazard and also put your home and/or service equipment at risk of damage. Large limbs and trees that are at risk of falling through the overhead service line can bend masts and damage the area of roof that the mast extends through. See wire clearance requirements in the next section which will help determine mast height needed.

Please note, FEC will not attach overhead wire directly to the home using a house knob. All overhead services must attach to the service mast.

Masts over 26 inches above the roof, large service conductors, and service wire over 100 feet require additional mast supports.

Once you have installed the meter base and mast, you are ready to provide and install your service entrance conductor. The service entrance conductor is the wiring that is typically connected to the top lugs in your meter base and runs upward through the service mast. The service entrance conductors must be sized according to the NEC and to the rating of your meter base. When installing the wire, leave at least 2 feet of wire exposed at the end of the weatherhead to allow FEC to connect the service line to your wire. When you install your meter base, make sure the center of the meter will be four and a half to six feet above finished ground level.

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Meter Base Clearance Requirements — Overhead Feed

FEC Supplied Overhead Secondary Line

  • 24.5-foot minimum clearance over State Highways
  • 16-foot minimum clearance over County/City streets
  • 12-foot minimum clearance on residential property.

Other Minimum Clearances

  • 11-foot clearance over roof with permanent access
  • 36 inches clearance over roof without permanent access
  • 11-foot clearance over deck

Roof Clearances

  • 3-foot minimum clearance over roofs
  • 18-inch minimum clearance from roof to drip loop
  • Member supplied service entrance conductor: 2-foot minimum clearance

Contact an FEC designer with all clearance questions.

Tree trimming around the service line is the member’s responsibility.


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