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Switch Hold on the Electric Meter

Helping Texas residents to get their electricity service up and running as fast and as affordable as possible.

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Switch Hold Overview

The switch hold is a block placed by the utility and it was requested by an energy company. This block is to prevent a change in the energy company supplying electricity to a specific address or meter.

One of the most complicated subjects in residential electricity is the SWITCH HOLD. I will try to make this article as simple as possible, explaining the scenarios and how to remove them.

First, we need to understand who is who in the electricity business. Then, we can figure out how to fix the switch hold problem.

The Utility

So, the UTILITY. The utility is the one that owns the infrastructure and delivers the power to our homes and businesses. Furthermore, they are responsible to fix power outages, transformers, wires, etc. Their job is to transmit the electricity all the way to the premises meter. Therefore, there is a delivery charge on your electricity bill. Maintaining a power grid is not easy and not cheap. Therefore, when there is a power outage, we don’t call the energy company, we call the utility. Also, they make sure that the energy companies are doing their job. They keep the energy companies in compliance and make sure the electricity companies bill the customers the correct amount of energy consumed. The utility reads the meters, not the energy company.

The Energy Company

The ENERGY COMPANY. The energy company buys the energy in bulk and resells it to a consumer. The electricity company receives the meter usage in kilowatts from the utility and then the electricity company sends the bill to the final customer. Therefore, we have the other charge on our electricity bill as ENERGY CHARGE.

Now that we have these two entities separated, we can explain how the SWITCH HOLD work.

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Switch Hold Scenarios

  • No payment or deferred payment plan
  • Tampering

Switch old due to no payment or deferred payment plan

Let’s dive into “No payment or deferred payment plan”. This type of switch hold is when a customer is behind on payments or accumulates a large bill and he or she can’t make a payment, the customer can call the electricity company and ask for help. This help means not disconnecting the electricity service and the customer agrees to a payment plan. With this DPP (deferred payment plan) the customer can’t switch electricity suppliers, and the electricity company sends a notification to the utility to place a switch hold on the meter until the customer pays what the customer owes. Once the customer settles the debt with the energy company the switch hold is removed.

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If a customer tries to change electricity companies, the utility will notify the new electricity company that this address can’t switch energy suppliers because the customer still owes money to the current energy supplier. The new order will reject.

How to remove a DPP Switch Hold

Pay Your Bill. As mentioned above, the customer must pay what it’s owed to the current electricity company.

For New Residents. This is the complicated part. If you just moved to a new residence and the premise has a switch hold on the electric meter, several steps need to be done. The whole idea is to prove that you are a new resident at this address, and you have nothing to do with the previous resident.

  • Be patient, this problem will not be fixed in a couple of hours.
  • Understand that this is not the company’s fault, nor the utilities. It’s the previous resident’s fault.
  • Act quickly. If you promptly gather all the information needed, this ordeal can be fixed in less than 24 hours.

Documentation Needed to Remove the Switch Hold

As mentioned above, the new resident needs to prove that he or she is a new resident at the address in question. So, these are the documents needed:

  1. Appendix J2. This is a document signed by you and the landlord that states that you are a new resident at this address. Sometimes the UTILITY asks for this document to be notarized.
  2. Lease or FCD. These documents tell us when we need to turn on the lights. Depending on if you are renting/leasing or buying a new home. These documents state the dates when the new electricity service is needed, the name of the new resident, and more. With these documents, we can prove to the utility that there is no relation between you and the last resident who left a balance with the electricity company.

The utilities take these issues before 1:00 PM. So, if the documents were sent before 1:00 PM, then the switch hold may be released by 8:00 PM, otherwise, this will be resolved by 1:00 PM the next operational day.

Switch Hold to a Tampered Meter

“Tampering”. Now, most electric meters are digital, and we call them “smart meters” or AMS. These AMS are sensitive and if anyone tries to move it, tamper, or mess with it, it will send a signal to the utility. The utility will place the switch hold until a certified utility technician makes sure the meter is in a good state. This can happen when a mobile home is moved, and the meter is moved. In this case, a city inspection may be necessary.

To conclude. I understand that a switch hold can be a pain in the butt and a hassle, however, if you act quickly and understand the situation, your problems with the switch hold can be resolved in 24 hours.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2022 Gabriel Cueto

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