Upgrading Gas Meter

I currently have a 200 CFH natural gas meter. I have added a generator that uses 245 CFH at full load.
I finally got a response from my gas company today (after MANY messages left). They said the good news is that the line from the street is sufficient, and would not need to be replaced. However, the meter and regulator needed to be changed. The cost? $1043!!
I argued and said this was ridiculous. I shouldn't have to pay over $1000 to buy more gas from you. Of course, they don't care about that (I guess they don't see the "big picture"). I can't get in touch with anyone other than a call taker at the company. It's Centerpoint Energy.
Has anyone else had a similar experience? I have no question that they are upgrading to much more than I would need. But they stand firm that that's what they "calculated" and if they budge then the could be liable from a safety standpoint... BS.
Suggestions? Propane?
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

I would guess that their regulations require them to provide X amount of capacity, an amount that should accommodate most residential customers. Your needs may be considered commercial and if so the regulations may require both a different type of meter and likely allow them to charge more.
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They do see the big picture. You want gas. They have gas. You need a larger meter. They will charge you for it and make money from it. You get pissed off. They still have the gas to sell to others. You still want gas so you pay to have the meter installed.
How often will the generator run? Figure your annual consumption and how much profit they can make from you. How long do they have to supply you to make back the $1043? If it is a generator for power failures only, it won't be in this century.
You should check these thing out before you buy a piece of equipment. Sorry, but I don't see where they have any obligation to do this for you. I think you will find the propane costs equally shocking.
FWIW, yes, I've done gas upgrades a few times at work. Nothing is free.
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Edwin Pawlowski wrote:

Fair enough. I realize it will cost something, I guess $1043 just seems expensive. I can't imagine that their cost for a meter is anywhere near that. I see that new, lower capacity meters cost just more than $100. Maybe the bigger ones are significantly more complex.
After not having a response from them for over a month prior to today, I have come to realize that I will have to use what I currently have. It works fine. I'll just not be able to run the furnace, fireplaces, and central AC all at once :-)
In their infinite wisdom they calculated that I need a 690CFH meter. I feel that 400 would be more than adequate. I currently have a 200CFH meter and am adding 245CFH. The meter I currently have was also sized by them. That math does not add up to me. Someone else suggested that I don't run at full capacity. I don't. I won't go over 60% at the most. Only needed a generator this big so I could run my 5 ton central AC.
Thanks for the responses. Just a bad case of sticker shock!
Brad
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote: <snip>

Huh, and they won't install a new meter and line dedicated to the new equipment? THat would eb the easiest way.

Ah, in that case yes, you should be fine.
I was toying with the idea that you could get a compressor and store up the gas against need downstream from the meter. Unfortunately, the lowest cost CNG compressor I could find was two grand. The only other option otehr than living with the current limits would be to go to tanks of propane. Of copurse if you were making that switch, you might as well make the switch to all of your gas needs...

Sheesh, that's a big genset. How much did that cost?
John
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snipped-for-privacy@westnet.poe.com wrote:

Actually, Generac came out with a new air cooled generator this year that they say is "Certified for 5 Ton Central AC". It a 16kwLP and 15kwNG. I was a bit suspicious, so I installed a Kickstart start capacitor and relay (supposed to help with compressor starting in low voltage situations, reduce startup current (or at least lower the duration unit is pulling LRA)). http://www.kickstartoem.com
The generator does indeed start the unit. They claim it will start a 5 ton with a 7kw (if my memory is correct) auxillary load. I have only started it with about 3kw additional load. It's a Generac 5244 (aluminum enclosure). The steel enclosure is a model 5243, I believe. It costs about $3500 or so with a 16 circuit, 100amp transfer switch. Not too bad of a price, I don't think.
I spent 16 days without power last year when Hurricane Rita hit. Hopefully I won't be without AC again in the event of another hit.
Brad
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They are replacing the meter, regulator, and labor. Check out some pricing here for a smaller meter. http://www.plumbingsupply.com/gas.html They don't list the 400 or larger ones.
I just rebuilt a regulator and found that a new one of the capacity we need it $800. I'm sure yours will be less.
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On 5 Jul 2006 12:19:25 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

Don't run the generator at full load.
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On 5 Jul 2006 12:19:25 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

I think there is a good chance you can run your generator wide open. When you add the tolerances, you probably won't even notice the restriction.
Give it a try first, before you get all upset about nothing.
And if there is a restriction, it is more than likely in that cheesy line you have running from the meter rather than the meter.
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JimL wrote:

Haha. That would be a good guess typically. I have run a 1 1/4 yellow poly natural gas line from the meter, though. More than good enough!
I was going to ask about the meter itself. You imply that I can probably get more than the 200 CFH for which it's rated. I have seen information that seems to indicate that the 200CFH it rated for is relating more to the fact that it can accurately measure the flow up to 200CFH, rather than indicating that's the most that will actually flow through the meter.
As I stated previously, I don't think I need much more than the 200CFH. I have run at full load. No problems. So that says I can get more than 200, presumably (if the 245CFH consumption is correct). I just like to do things to spec most of the time. I start wondering, ok, what if I'm drying clothes, both water heaters come on, etc. A surging generator that is running a central AC is not a good thing (trust me, I know). Luckily it was only a burned up contactor. Maybe I'm over-analyzing this, but I'd rather do it now than when the power is out.
Brad
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On 5 Jul 2006 14:06:54 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

Just to be safe, set you up some switches that prevent running those appliances when running from the gen. Use a doube throw if necessary so you are either drying clothes or heating water.
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My gas company doesn't make any money on the gas they sell me. Only the delivery of the gas. If you do the same, they could care less how much gas they deliver to you. So they make money on delivering the gas to your house. Also, as someone else said, if they do make money on the gas the amount that you will use for power outages is minimal.

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A good friend uses compressed natural gas to run his vehicles. He compresses his home gas to 1500 pounds but runs the compressor slow so as to not draw too much thru the meter.
gas meters can supply way more than there rated volume, if you draw too much it will damager the rubber bladder inside but not cause a gas leak or hazard, the worst is the metter quits working..
this all from my buddy a engineer. he designed cast and machined the entire system himself.
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On 5 Jul 2006 12:19:25 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

That's a lot of dough. Our gas company replace my 8-year meter with a new one--for free. I can understand a charge for putting in a gas line from the street for $1,000.
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