HARRISBURG – A total of 97 disciplinary actions, including $78,700 in administrative penalties, have been taken against 48 underground facility owners, excavators and project owners in the latest enforcement actions by the Public Utility Commission’s (PUC’s) Damage Prevention Committee (DPC). These actions were taken during the DPC’s May 2019 meeting.
The DPC is tasked with enforcing the state’s Underground Utility Line Protection Act – also known as the “PA One Call Law.”
A comprehensive list of summaries and actions from DPC meetings is available on the PUC’s website. Penalties are payable to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The Commission will offset the costs of administering this program through the penalties collected.
Digging Safety – PA One Call
Every year, underground lines across the state are struck more than 6,000 times – which means that during the average workday a pipeline or other vital utility system is hit every 20 minutes. While underground lines are often “out of sight and out of mind,” every hit poses a risk to the contractors and homeowners who are doing the digging; to utility workers and emergency responders who are mobilized when lines are struck; and to bystanders who live, work or travel near the locations of the incidents.
State law requires contractors and residents to contact PA One Call at least three business days prior to excavation – triggering alerts to all utilities within an intended digging area and prompting utilities to mark where their facilities are located. Pennsylvanians can dial 8-1-1 to connect with the One Call system, while out-of-state residents or businesses can call 1-800-242-1776.
About the DPC
The DPC is part of the PUC’s independent Bureau of Investigation and Enforcement, which also includes the Pipeline Safety Division.
Modeled after successful programs in other states, the focus of the committee is a reduction in the number of “hits” on underground utilities.
The DPC meets regularly to review alleged violations of the Act and makes determinations as to the appropriate response including, but not limited to, the issuance of warning letters or administrative penalties. The committee holds public meetings in Hearing Room 1 of the Commonwealth Keystone Building, Harrisburg, and each of the meeting is livestreamed on the PUC’s website.
About the Bureau of Investigation & Enforcement
As the independent investigation and enforcement bureau of the PUC, I&E enforces state and federal pipeline safety and motor carrier safety laws and regulations and represents the public interest in ratemaking and service matters before the PUC’s Office of Administrative Law Judge. I&E has the authority to bring enforcement action, seek emergency orders from the Commission or take other steps to ensure public safety.