PA PUC announces 183 total, $146k in fines, remind public to call 811 when digging

20 January 2023- A total of 183 disciplinary actions, including $146,000 in administrative penalties, have been taken against 109 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 December 2022 meeting.

The next meeting of the Damage Prevention Committee (DPC) is Tuesday, Feb. 14, at 9 a.m. Members of the public, the media and others are invited to join the meeting in person in Hearing Room 1 of the Commonwealth Keystone Building, Harrisburg. Additionally, the PUC will livestream the DPC meeting on the PUC website. Attendees also will be able to access the virtual conference by clicking on this Microsoft Teams event link or by calling into the telephone conference by dialing 267-332-8737, and then entering passcode 265 542 003# to listen to the meeting. The meeting agenda is available on the PUC’s website.

About the DPC

The DPC is a peer-based group of 13 representatives, nominated by their industry or affiliated organization and appointed by the PUC. Creation of the committee was authorized by Act 50 of 2017, which enhances Pennsylvania’s Underground Utility Line Protection Act – also known as the “One Call Law.” The focus of the DPC is to reduce the number of “hits” on underground lines and utilities.

The DPC meets regularly to review alleged violations of the One Call Law and make informal determinations as to the appropriate response including, but not limited to, the issuance of warning letters, mandatory training programs and/or administrative penalties. Summaries of actions taken at monthly DPC meetings are available on the PUC’s website.

Digging Safety – PA One Call

Every year, Damage Prevention and Safety responds to numerous underground line hits across the state. 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 Bureau of Investigation & Enforcement

The independent Bureau of Investigation and Enforcement (I&E) enforces state and federal pipeline safety, electric 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.