What’s Involved in Completing a Service Upgrade?

The first important thing to understand is that there are three parties involved in service upgrades – you, an electrical contractor, and BC Hydro. Knowing where to start can feel a bit daunting, but never fear, there are only four main steps needed to get the job done.

One – Call an Electrical Contractor to Request an Estimate

An electrical contractor will visit your home and help you to confirm if an upgrade is needed. 

A good electrical contractor will also provide a free estimate that provides details the labour and materials needed, as well as permit requirements. If you’re keen, you might even get two or three estimates to compare. Find out more about comparing estimates here (link to blog – Comparing Estimates for Electrical Work).

Two – Order Your Upgrade from BC Hydro 

Call BC Hydro or order your upgrade through their website. Be sure to review their fees for service upgrades, which will be billed to you directly by them on your BC Hydro account. Once you’ve completed your order, invite your chosen contractor to link up with your BC Hydro order by providing them with the orders reference number. The contractor will then be able to handle the BC Hydro scheduling, will take out the required permit, and will deal with the necessary inspections.

Three – Discuss the Work Arrangements with the Contractor 

Talk to your contractor about their plans to complete the work so you can set down a schedule that both works for you and them.

Four – Understand the Process

The entire process of completing a service upgrade typically takes about two weeks, depending on the schedules of the three parties involved. Here’s how it typically works:

  1. Pre-Work – An electrician will visit your home to complete the pre-work that is needed to prepare your electrical service in advance of BC Hydro’s.
  2. Inspection One – There are two stages for this inspection which starts with an Electrical Field Safety Representative (FSR), employed by your contractor, who will visit your home to be sure the pre-work is ready and properly done to the Canadian Electrical Code. They will submit the necessary paperwork to the safety authority, Technical Safety BC, as required for the permit. The next stage usually involves a physical inspection of the work done by a Safety Authority inspector to determine if the work done is compliant.
  3. Connection Request – When the work completed has been found compliant, your contractor can then request a connection by BC Hydro. You and the contractor will receive an email from BC Hydro to confirm the connection request and will provide a specific date or a range of dates when their work will be done.
  4. Connection Day – Upgrades require your contractor to do a ‘work-with’ with BC Hydro. This means your contractor will work at the same time as BC Hydro, since each requires the other to complete your service upgrade. When BC Hydro arrives on connection day, they will disconnect your power. This enables them to complete any work they need to do, while, at the same time, your contractor can complete their work to connect up your new electrical panel(s) and attach the new power supply lines. Depending on the way the upgrade is being done, completing the work to connect the supply lines and the new panel and breakers may require several hours and a second visit by BC Hydro to reconnect your upgraded service. Read more about your upgraded panel set-up here. (Link to Why Do I have to Replace my Electrical Panel When I Upgrade My Service.)
  5. Inspection Two – Before the final connection can be made, a second inspection must be done. Your contractor’s FSR will visit your home to complete an inspection of all the work completed and submit a declaration along with photos to the TSBC to enable the connection. The Authority’s inspection is done remotely at this stage and is completed quickly to ensure your service can be re-connected on the same day. 
  6. Electrical Connection – Your electrician will contact BC Hydro whose technicians will return to re-connect the power to your home. 

Still not enough info? Call or email Barr Electric. Our contact information is at the bottom of this post.

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