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During National Safe Digging Month, PG&E Reminds Customers to Call 811 For Jobs Big and Small, One Call Can Help Prevent Injuries, Outages and Damage to Underground Utility Equipment

Release Date: April 12, 2012
Contact: PG&E External Communications (415) 973-5930

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. – This April, during National Safe Digging Month, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) reminds customers to call 811 before starting any excavation project, large or small.

Natural gas pipelines, electric power lines and other utilities buried underground can lie just a few feet from the surface. Whether planting a tree, installing a sprinkler system or building a fence, homeowners and professional excavators need to know where gas and electric lines lie underground to prevent injuries, property damage and outages.

Once every three minutes nationwide, a utility line is damaged by digging. Many of these incidents could have been prevented with a call to 811, a free service that provides important information on where utilities exist beneath excavation areas.

Calling 811 puts customers in direct contact with Underground Service Alert (USA), which notifies local utility companies to mark the approximate location of their underground facilities in and around the excavation site, helping customers and contractors avoid them.

Anyone can call USA from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday, except for holidays. California law requires anyone doing excavation work to notify utilities at least two working days before digging.

Requests will be accepted as early as 14 days in advance of an excavation. Once a request is received, the customer or contractor will receive a list of notified utilities that may have underground lines in the area.

PG&E offers these tips for a safe excavation:

  • If you believe a utility has not marked its lines, call 811 again to notify USA.
  • To help utilities, mark the proposed excavation area on paved surfaces with white chalk-based paint. Homeowners can also use other white substances, such as sugar or flour. On unpaved surfaces, use flags or stakes to mark the proposed excavation area.
  • Carefully hand-excavate within 24 inches on either side of a utility-marked facility.
  • Be careful not to erase facility marks while working. If you cannot see the markings, call 811 and request a remarking.
  • 811 requests are active for 28 days. Notify USA if work continues beyond that time.
  • Immediately notify utilities about any type of contact or damage to their wires or pipes.
  • If there is any type of damage to PG&E electric wires or gas pipelines, or if there is a possible gas leak, take these steps promptly:
    • Move to a safe location
    • Call 911
    • Call PG&E at 1-800-743-5000

For more information about USA, visit www.call811.com. For daily tips on safe digging, visit PG&E’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/pacificgasandelectric or PG&E’s Twitter feed at www.twitter.com/pge4me.

Pacific Gas and Electric Company, a subsidiary of PG&E Corporation (NYSE:PCG), is one of the largest combined natural gas and electric utilities in the United States. Based in San Francisco, with 20,000 employees, the company delivers some of the nation’s cleanest energy to 15 million people in Northern and Central California. For more information, visit http://www.pge.com/about/newsroom/ and www.pgecurrents.com.

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