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What is an ICP and Why do I need one ?

- Updated: 05/12/2012
What is an ICP and Why do I need one ?

The subject of electricity suppliers and their take on ICP's is discussed regularly on the expat forums - including our own.

But what exactly is an ICP, what does it do and what else do we need to know about them ?

Tumbit asked Tony Poole from Sparkes Electrical Services to tell us more :

What is an ICP exactly ?

An ICP is a device for controlling your contracted power supply, an Interrupter de Control de Potencia or Power Control Switch, also called a Mains Isolater.

What is my contracted power supply ?

This is the electricity tariff that you agreed with Iberdrola when you moved into your home. It's stated on your electricity bill or contract in kW (kilo-Watts).

Why must I have an ICP ?

Iberdrola are writing to their customers instructing them to fit an ICP. A Royal Decree (Order ITC/1.857/2008) passed on July 1st 2008 declared by law all electrical installations must have a device for controlling the contracted power. In domestic dwellings that means an ICP must be fitted.

Where is the ICP fitted ?

There are two types of ICP, manual and automatic. The 'new' manual ICP (M) is fitted in a dedicated standardised box, next to or part of, your Consumer Unit. The 'old' automatic ICP (A) is in your meter cupboard. The auto-type was discontinued in the mid 90's.

Do I have access to the ICP ?

Yes, should the ICP trip-out, you can easily switch it back on from within your home.

When must I fit an ICP ?

Iberdrola will write to you twice, the second time by recorded delivery. The second letter gives you 20 days notice to comply.

What happens if I don't fit an ICP ?

You will be penalised to pay a higher tariff. A 3.3kW contracted supply will be increased to a 10kW tariff; a 5.5kW contracted supply will be increased to a 20kW tariff.

Do I already have an ICP ?

Possibly. Homes completed since 2002 should have an ICP. An ICP may or may not be fitted in homes built prior.

What are the implications of having an ICP fitted ?

A possible consequence of installing an ICP is that insufficient power maybe contracted. This is evident when several appliances are switched on at the same time and the power overloads the ICP and it trips-out. Then it will be necessary to arrange an upgraded supply.

Do I need a boletin once the ICP is fitted ?

No. A boletin (certificate) is only needed if you are upgrading your electricity supply. Once the ICP is fitted, arrange for Iberdrola to inspect and seal it. The cost is €9.04 plus IVA, charged to your electricity bill.

Who can fit an ICP ?

A qualified electrician should fit the ICP, the electrician does not have to be approved by Iberdrola, but needs to fully understand Iberdrola's requirements. A rental option is available from Iberdrola, however, you must ensure that you have a standardised ICP box prepared and fitted first.

How much does it cost to have an ICP fitted ?

Subjective. Allow 60-70 Euros... pay peanuts, and you'll get monkeys !

Still unsure whether or not you have an ICP ?

Telephone Iberdrola on 901 10 22 10, quote your contract number, and ask if you need to have an ICP fitted.

Whilst Iberdrola are not the only provider of Electricty in Spain, they are the largest and cover a large are of the country. Whilst ICP policies may differ between providers, this can be considered a 'rough guide' for other suppliers.

More info on ICP's can be found by visiting the website of Sparkes Electrical Services by clicking here.

Comment on this Article

Mark: Further to my comment below I would recommend that you get this sorted properly by obtaining a boletin and legitimate contract. In the long term you will pay much more if you don´t. Plus there is the home insurance issue to consider. If as you say your house has been renovated and the wiring meets the current Spanish spec it should only cost 200-300 euros plus allow about 150 euro for Iberdrola, or whoever
Tony Poole - Wed 29th Feb 2012
Mark : The consequences of not having an ICP means that you will continue to be penalized by paying an additional standing charge. If you decided to fit an ICP it must be the correct rated switch in accordance with your contract. In your case a 7.5 Amp ICP, which will be as much use to you as a chocolate fire guard because you will be unable to use the heavier loaded electrical appliances in your home. You will need to arrange a boletin (certificate) for your installation, then you can apply to to your electrical distribution company for a legitimate upgraded supply. Also note that in your current situation, if you have an electrical fire, your insurance will be invalid. For more info about ICPs and upgrades visit my blog by clicking the link here.

Tony Poole - Wed 29th Feb 2012
We are only contracted to 1.5kw and the house was renovated about 10 years ago and no ICP switch was installed. I have been asked about this by Iberdrola and have told them that we do not have one and we would need to increase our contracted supply up to at least 4.5kw. This would mean a large financial outlay to do this and for the certificate. So far we have not had one installed and are still contracted to 1.5kw but paying for 10kw (which is not that expensive). Does anyone know what the consequences are of NOT having an ICP fitted?
Mark W - Tue 28th Feb 2012
It seems to be the norm here (Euskadi) that you have contracted supply rates. Whether it's true for the rest of Spain, I have no idea.
Paul Attard - Mon 6th Feb 2012
... Chillax, I'm guessing you don't have a Telefonica contract ?
Mr Grumpy - Sun 5th Feb 2012
Not that i'm complaining, but why is that you can't just pay for what you use instead of having to have contracted supplied rates? Instead, the consumer has to pay more and the utilities get what they want... Not having to do anything, getting paid for it and fine people for not doing what they are supposed to!... Sounds like jobs for the boys to me!
Dan Brammall - Sun 5th Feb 2012
We were under the impression that the house owners had a copy of the "boletin", but our house renovations were done whilst we were still working in UK. The house is in my wife's name as she is Basque. We cannot seem to find it & have been told that the "electricista" has it. We don't think he has. We have an ICP, since the renovations were carried out in 2005/6. I'm trying to find a way of upgrading the supply "potencia" without incurring a possible €200-300 bill!!
Paul Attard - Tue 25th Oct 2011
Hi Paul Yes you do need a Boletin to upgrade your electricity supply. A Boletin basically certifies that your installation is safe and upto the current Spanish Regulations. You may need to have works carried out on your current installation to ensure that it is up to spec. Tony, Spakrs
Tony Poole - Tue 25th Oct 2011
We are on the normal 4.6kW tariff; fine until we use the oven (which most Spanish do not) plus say a couple of rings on high; that triggers the electric to trip. Trying to increase the tariff to say 5.5kW seems problematic, because we do not have the "boletin" & to get one we've been told may be €200-300.
Paul Attard - Tue 25th Oct 2011