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Aug. 11 (8/11) Serves As Reminder: Always Call 811 Before Digging Free Call Can Help Prevent Many Dangerous and Costly Accidents

Release Date: August 9, 2012
Contact: PG&E External Communications (415) 973-5930

Attention TV stations: Broadcast-quality b-roll is available for download.

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. – This August 11 (8/11), Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) reminds residential and business customers to call 811 to have underground utility lines marked prior to any digging project. Every three minutes nationwide, an underground utility line is damaged during a digging project. These accidents can happen in a resident’s backyard, not just on heavy construction projects.

Striking a single utility line can lead to injury, repair costs, fines and inconvenient service outages. Every digging project, no matter how large or small, warrants a call to 811. Some examples include installing a mailbox, building a deck, planting a tree and laying a patio.

A call to 811 connects homeowners and excavating contractors to Underground Service Alert (USA). This free service notifies utility companies about any type of excavation project. Utilities then dispatch professional locators to the requested digging site to mark the approximate locations of underground lines with flags, chalk-based spray paint or both.

PG&E offers these tips for a safe excavation:
• Call 811 at least two working days before and up to 14 calendar days in advance of an excavation or digging project.
• Customers will receive a list of notified utilities that may have underground lines in the area. If you believe a utility may not have marked its lines, call 811 again to notify USA.
• On paved surfaces, mark the proposed excavation area 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 use hand tools to excavate within 24 inches on either side of a utility-marked facility. Digging even a few inches deep can pose some risks of striking a utility line.
• 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 wires or pipes.
• If there is any damage to PG&E electric wires or gas pipelines, or if there is a possible gas leak, take these steps:
    o Move to a safe location
    o Call 911
    o Call PG&E at 1-800-743-5000

For more information about 811 and safe digging practices, visit www.call811.com.

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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