Customer vs. utility responsibility: Owner information for safe and efficient service.
Knowing how your electricity or gas is delivered to your home or business is helpful — especially during storms and emergencies — because you are responsible for maintaining or repairing certain portions of the service.
Electric Equipment Responsibilities
Operating the electric grid requires a consistent and coordinated effort by many parties. The production of electricity is called generation, and is measured in kilowatts (one kilowatt is equal to 1,000 watts). The electricity produced by a power plant or generation facility is sold in units called kilowatt-hours (kWh). The generation facilities are the first step in providing electricity to customers.
The push of electricity across a cable is measured in volts. The electricity produced by generation facilities is stepped up or increased in voltage for improved efficiency and transported over long distances by transmission lines. These transmission lines supply substations with electricity, which is then stepped down by large transformers at substations to reduce the voltage for local distribution to businesses and homes.
The distribution lines are the poles and wires common along the streets and roads. These wires deliver the electricity to the customer via service drops or cables. Commercial customers who run heavy machinery usually have three wires to supply their facility, while residential customers have a smaller need with only one supply wire.
Prior to entering the customer’s facility, though, the electricity is stepped down in voltage once more for safety by a smaller distribution transformer. These can usually be seen mounted on a utility pole along the street or located atop a concrete pad. Electricity is moved through the service drop or cable and its supply is measured via a meter before it finally energizes a home's network of electrical wires and outlets.
Unitil is responsible for all equipment prior to the point of attachment to the structure, as well as the electric meter.
Unitil’s service drop or cable connects a transformer to the weatherhead or downpipe on your home or business. A service drop is the overhead line which connects a polemount transformer to a weatherhead. A service cable is the underground line that connects a padmount transformer to a downpipe via an underground route. Both the service drop and cable are insulated wires.
Note that while the electric meter is the property of Unitil, the protective box or “socket” in which it rests is the property of the customer.
The customer is responsible for all equipment from the point of attachment to the structure, except for the electric meter.
A weatherhead or downpipe routes Unitil’s service drop or cable to the electric meter. The weatherhead and downpipe are the property of the customer. Although the meter is not owned by the customer, the protective box or "socket" in which it rests is also the property of the customer.
If the wiring on the outside of your house not serviced by Unitil has been damaged, it may need to be repaired by a third-party contractor. During an outage, Unitil is responsible for repairing the overhead electrical lines that run from the utility pole to your residence and for the electric meter.
Homeowners are responsible for repairs to other parts of your electrical system, including:
- The weather head and insulator at the point where electric lines connect to your residence.
- The service entrance cable running from the weather head to the electric meter and from the electric meter to the service panel in your home.
- The meter box in which your electric meter is mounted.
- The main service panel which includes the fuse boxes and/or circuit breakers for the electric service in your home.
In hiring a contractor for post-storm services, we recommend you get at least three separate quotes, check references from previous customers and ask how long each contractor has been in business. Once the repairs have been made to your home, please call our Customer Service center at 1-888-301-7700 so we can issue an order to reconnect your service to our power lines.
Unitil’s tree pruning is limited to tree branches that affect electric wires. We don't trim trees or branches that affect individual customer service lines or phone and cable wires.
It's your responsibility to keep trees clear of the electric service line that runs from the pole to your house. Stay at least 10 feet away from these energized lines and don't attempt to prune trees or branches around them on your own!
Hire a qualified professional and always assume lines are energized. Unitil does not prune unless there is apparent wear or hard contact pushing the service line out of its normal arc. All house service pruning requests are reviewed by a Unitil arborist. If it’s necessary, we'll have a contractor perform the pruning for you.
Storm Tree Removal and Clean-Up
During storms, Unitil crews are focused on safety and power restoration by cutting and clearing trees and limbs as quickly and safely as possible. During these emergency situations, tree work is completed without homeowner notification. Tree branches and debris aren't cleaned-up and must be disposed of by the tree owner.
Please note: If you, or your tree contractor, are pruning or removing a tree near power lines, Unitil will disconnect the electric service and reconnect the service free of charge, after tree work is completed. Please schedule by calling 1-888-301-7700.
Do you need non-emergency pruning or removal of a tree with the potential to affect your service? Request tree trimming.
Gas Equipment Responsibilities
Understanding how natural gas is delivered to your home or business can help you understand how to best care for your equipment, especially during emergencies.
A natural gas service connects the gas main to a customer’s gas regulator/meter. The regulator is a special valve designed to reduce pressure, as well as shut-off flow in the event of a gas pressure increase. The meter measures the demand or quantity of natural gas (as cubic feet) required by the appliances served in the structure.
A union or connection is where the meter is attached to the line or pipe entering the structure.
Unitil is responsible for all equipment prior to entering the building.
This includes the gas service pipe, the regulator and the meter.
Customers are responsible for all equipment inside the building, beginning at the meter.
This includes the union (where the meter is attached to the line or pipe entering the structure) and all lines after the union, including those within the structure. In some cases, the line from the meter to the structure is buried; however, the customer is also responsible for the maintenance of this line.
Our natural gas system is governed by Federal regulations, which recommend that customers with natural gas lines buried from the meter to the primary structure should be:
- In compliance with the National Fuel Gas Code NFPA 54
- Periodically inspected for leaks
- Periodically inspected for corrosion if the piping is metallic
- Repaired if any unsafe condition is discovered
Plumbing or heating contractors can assist customers in inspecting and repairing the buried piping. When digging near buried gas piping, customers should locate the piping in advance and dig by hand, not machine. Call DigSafe® at 811 prior to any breaking of ground and review private locating services available courtesy of DigSafe®.
Contact us at 1-888-301-7700.