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Diary of a Mad Renovator: Let There be Light… or Maybe Not!

Written by Jaqui Lividini

A new obstacle presented itself this week in the form of bureaucracy––specifically Connecticut Light & Power. Every house must have a meter box that gauges how much electricity is used from month to month. For our house we have two choices: a smaller meter box with above-ground cables that start at an electrical pole across the street and attach to a rod sitting on our roof, or a larger meter box which attaches to underground cables. Since we want to contribute to the beautification of our neighborhood whenever possible, our desire is to go with the underground cables. This, however, is proving to be a nearly impossible feat. 

Current meter box on the house

The Town of Branford, which has been phenomenally reasonable and a true pleasure to work with, has a requirement that the bottom of the meter box must be 5 feet above sea level. This new requirement is a direct result of the FEMA zoning change. Sounds reasonable enough. However, bureaucracy rears its ugly head with the additional requirements that Connecticut Light & Power are demanding. Since the box now sits 5 feet above sea level, CL&P has informed us that we must provide a staircase, railing, and a landing to provide access to the meter! Have you ever heard of such a thing? Who has this? No one!

Naturally, the box cannot be placed in the logical and least offensive location––underneath the porch or inside a support column––as this would not meet code. Our first thought was to put the box in the back of the house on the porch because there is already a staircase there. Genius, right? Nope. The house sits on ledge rock, remember? So, in order to get the cables underground, we’d have to blast. This would be costly and problematic (and noisy!) to say the least. Next, we thought we could build a landing onto the staircase to the left of the house and put the box there, but this would ultimately alter the design of the house––which we don’t want to do. It would also add considerable cost. A third alternative is to go ahead and have an eyesore above-ground box with wires over the house placed directly next to the front door, but who wants a meter box by their front door?

So we are left with this unexpected and costly conundrum created by Connecticut Light & Power. Personally, I don’t see the need for the staircase, railing, or landing, since the meter is read from the road with a wand. But because we lifted the house––as required––we are subject to all the rules and regulations of a “new construction project,” even though the house dates back to 1901! 

Any readers with suggestions on how to solve this problem… I am all ears!

Unsightly wires



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