$500 is ridiculous. The materials are close to that.
We do a fair number of service upgrades (2-3/week) and charge $3300- $3700 plus permit. It's higer than many but people will pay it and more and more contractors are charging close to this amount. I know several EC's down here who used to charge $1800-$2500 and they started charging over 3K and realized that they can get it. If you're gonna lose them at $3200, you'll lose them at $2500 too. The cheapies will always be too cheap and will hire the person willing to do it for wages. It's too much work to do for less IMO. Especially now.
Lately they have become a HUGE pain. SDGE used to take 3-5 days to get a service order and now they are taking up to 3 weeks. Also we used to do our own disconnect/ reconnects on overhead services and the city and SDGE looked the other way. We did this because it can take up to 6 weeks to get a date for a disconnect/reconnect and you can't schedule it until after the service order is in hand. All the sudden they decided to enforce getting a disconnect/reconnect for all services and it is taking FOREVER to get it on the schedule and they are now requiring an inspection before the stucco is patched with the lathe paper in place. Our stucco repairs increased a lot because now the guy has to go out twice.
We used to win a job and be able to do it the next week, now we can't do the work for 2 months and it's a killer. The inspectors are almost all new and are making us nuts. Even if the customer has no power they do not care and won't expedite the work. We had a couple of emergencies where we did the work because it needed to be done then had to go back on the disconnect /reconnect date a month later, disconnect, sit and wait for hours for the inspector, then call for reconnect as if the work was done that day. It is totally stupid.
They are a whole lot more of a hassel then they used to be and almost all are requiring multiple trips for one thing or another.
Someone at SDGE told us that it's the solar companies who are causing all the delays. Not sure if that is true but they are extremely backed up.
$500 is horrible. They are usually an all day job especially when you have to wait for the inspector and the line crew to reconnect. Why would you even consider doing it for $500? That's $62.50/hr if you do it alone and don't have to make multiple trips. The solar companies are charging at least $2500.