Tampering with the F or S screws on old meters

Published 1:45 pm Saturday, April 6, 2013

The F or S screw in question is used at factory to adjust the accuracy of the meter.

Some electro-mechanical meters have two screws.

The glass cover can be taken off to mess with the screw but there are warning signs.

If there is a broken meter clip at the bottom, then the meter has to be taken out of meter socket – you can see if the meter seals are broken, explained Franklin Power & Light Director Mark Bly.

“Anything is possible,” Bly said. “Look at the meter seal. If the seal is broken, citizens need to call us immediately. If it has been tampered with – cops will be called.”

Tampering with an electric meter is a Class 4 felony. According to the Code of Virginia:

§ 18.2-162. Damage or trespass to public services or utilities.

Any person who shall intentionally destroy or damage any facility which is used to furnish oil, telegraph, telephone, electric, gas, sewer, wastewater or water service to the public, shall be guilty of a Class 4 felony, provided that in the event the destruction or damage may be remedied or repaired for $200 or less such act shall constitute a Class 3 misdemeanor.


“We normally don’t calibrate the meters unless they are outside our accuracy standard, but we do test a meter every 7-10 years,” Bly explained.

“Records show how and when each meter is calibrated.”

The Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC) standards for a meter are plus or minus 7.5 percent accuracy. While Franklin is not governed by the SCC, it does follow its guidelines and goes a step further adhering to more stringent levels.

“We have higher than state standards, with only allowing a 2 percent variance,” he added.

“If a meter is more than our allowed variance, the meter is taken out of service to be calibrated or scrapped.”

The cost for a new meter to the city is $60 to $75, depending on number of meters purchased at one time.

“If the meter is less than 10 years old, we then calibrate. If it is an electro-mechanical meter older than 10 years because we are moving to all digital we very seldom even calibrate — we scrap it for a brand new digital meter,” said Bly.