Urgent Alert

Yard safety

Learn about managing trees and plants and the importance of calling 811 before you dig

Trees need space to grow both above and below ground. Planting the right tree in the right place helps promote fire safety, reduce power outages and ensures beauty for years to come.

Planting with fire safety in mind

You can help protect your home and community from wildfire risks. Start by picking the right plants and trees for your area. As they grow, make sure there are safe clearances around PG&E equipment.

To find out if you live in a High Fire-Threat District, check the California Public Utilities Commission's (CPUC) High Fire-Threat District (HFTD) map.

Outside High Fire-Threat Districts:

  • Within 50 feet of powerlines, only plant tree species that are less than 25 feet tall when fully grown.
  • Trees that can grow taller than 25 feet need to be planted at least 50 feet away from powerlines.

Within High Fire-Threat Districts:

  • Small Zone (within 15 feet of the pole or powerline):
    • Plant only low-growing vegetation that is less than 12 inches when fully grown.
  • Medium Zone (15 to 50 feet on either side of the pole or powerline):
    • Plant trees that are not taller than 40 feet when fully grown.
  • Tall Zone (50 feet or more from the pole or powerline):
    • Plant trees that may be taller than 40 feet when fully grown.

RTRP-avoid-lines

Outside High Fire-Threat Districts:

  • Underneath the wires on the powerline, plant only low-growing vegetation.
  • Directly below the tower, plant only grass.
  • Along the border on either side of the transmission line, plant only small trees that aren’t taller than 15 feet when fully grown.

Non-HFTD-Transmission-Wire-Zone-Graphic

on-HFTD-Metal-Transmission-Tower-Clearance-Area-Graphice  Non-HFTD-Transmission-Pole-Clearance-Area-Graphic

Within High Fire-Threat Districts:

  • Within 40 feet of transmission poles, plant only low-growing shrubs.
  • Within 50 feet of metal transmission towers, plant only low-growing shrubs.
  • Within the Border Zone and outside the 40- to 50-foot area, plant only low-growing shrubs that aren’t taller than 15 feet when fully grown.

HFTD-Transmission-Wire-Zone-Graphic

HFTD-Metal-Transmission-Tower-Clearance-Area-Graphic  HFTD-Transmission-Pole-Clearance-Area-Graphic

Avoid planting closer than 8 feet from the front and 2 feet from the back and sides of pad-mounted transformers.

pad-mounted-transformer-planting-guide

This image is an example of a pad-mounted transformer.

Planting guides

View these guides to learn which trees are the best to plant on your property if you're near PG&E equipment. Call 811 two days before you plant for your safety. Crews will mark any facilities below ground so you can avoid them when digging.

Working safely near powerlines

Coming into contact with a powerline can cause serious injuries or even death. Only line clearance-qualified personnel with special training and tools are legally allowed to work near powerlines.

 

When planting, trimming or removing vegetation near powerlines:

  • Always look up to identify a powerline before planting, pruning or removing trees.
  • Keep yourself and your tools at least 10 feet away from powerlines at all times.
  • Contact PG&E to request a free temporary service disconnect.
  • If you have concerns about trees near powerlines or your service wire, please report it through the PG&E Report It mobile app.

You can call us at 1-800-743-5000 to request a free temporary service disconnect before working around the service wire. 

 

Creating defensible space

You can help stop the spread of wildfires by creating defensible space on your property. Steps you can take include:

  • Pruning trees and brush regularly.
  • Removing any dry or dead vegetation within 100 feet of your home or business.
  • Leaving space around plants by removing debris and creating fuel breaks.
  • Cutting grass to a maximum height of 4 inches.
  • Landscaping with slow-growing, fire-resistant plants.

For more details about how you can protect your home, visit readyforwildfire.org.

Call 811 before you dig

 

It’s important to know where underground facilities are located before you start a digging project. 811 is a free service that works with utility providers to mark the location of underground facilities so you can dig safely.

 

Remain safe during your next digging project by:

  1. Marking the areas where you plan to dig in white.
  2. Providing access to the digging location.
  3. Calling 811 at least two business days before you dig or plant.

Crews will mark the location of underground lines or other utilities with flags, stakes or paint so you can avoid them. For more information about 811, please visit California 811

Remain safe during your next digging project by following these steps:

Step 1: Call 811

Call 811 at least two business days before you dig—the service is free.

Step 2: Identify and mark your digging area

Identify and mark your digging area with a white substance such as chalk, spray paint, flour or marking whiskers, tags, stakes or any combination.

Step 3: Leave the marks in place

PG&E and other companies will use colored utility flags, stakes or paint to mark underground lines following the American Public Works Association Uniform Color Code (PDF). Please leave the marks in place until you are finished digging. The marks are valid for 28 days.

Step 4: Use handheld digging tools when digging within 24 inches of the outside edge

Only use hand digging tools, such as shovels, within the 24-inch zone. After finishing your project, carefully backfill and compact the soil.

To submit an online request, please visit Underground Service Alert North.

Learn about the importance of calling 811 before any digging project, no matter how large or small, and to learn how to dig safely once any underground utility lines are marked for your project site. 

You can also submit questions about your project to DamagePrevention@pge.com.

PG&E 811 Safe Digging Webinar

Downloadable PDF resources

Call 811 before you dig

Note: The quiz mentioned in the video is no longer available.

Yard safety resources

 

PG&E has resources for homeowners and licensed contractors who may have questions or need to make contact with someone specific within our Damage Prevention organization and to help you dig safely. 

emergency alert icon If you suspect a gas leak or if you hit, accidentally dent, scrape or damage an underground gas line:

  • Alert others in the area, leave immediately and move to a safe, upwind location.
  • Do not light a match, use a cell phone or flashlight, operate a vehicle or use any electronic device near the leak.
  • Call 9-1-1 for emergency assistance and then call PG&E at 1-800-743-5000.

Recognize signs of a natural gas leak

Please report any signs of a gas leak immediately. Your awareness and action can improve the safety of your home and community.

Sound

Pay attention to hissing, whistling or roaring sounds coming from underground or from a gas appliance.

Sight

Be aware of dirt spraying into the air; continual bubbling in a pond, creek, puddle or other source of standing water; as well as dead or dying vegetation in an otherwise moist area.

Smell

We add a distinctive, sulfur-like, rotten egg odor so you can detect even small amounts of natural gas. However, DO NOT rely only on your sense of smell to detect the presence of natural gas.

 

Some people may not be able to smell the odor due to a diminished sense of smell, olfactory fatigue (normal, temporary inability to distinguish an odor after prolonged exposure), or because it is masked or hidden by other odors that are present. Also, certain conditions in the pipe and soil can cause odor fade: the loss of odorant so that it is not detectable by smell.

Damage Prevention organization

PG&E's Damage Prevention Department is comprised of Locate & Mark (L&M), the Dig-in Reduction Team (DiRT), Aerial & Ground Patrol, Standby Governance, Damage Recovery and Metrics, and Public Awareness. The Damage Prevention organization's vision is to work with the excavation community in a manner that fosters effective communication between all stakeholders to prevent public safety incidents resulting from excavation damage. The department seeks to educate the public about the USA Program to improve utilization of the system such that all excavation sites are located, and field marked for all subsurface infrastructure prior to the start of excavation. While PG&E's focus continues to be on responding to requests to locate and mark subsurface installations, educating the public about the existence of the 811 Program and each party's responsibilities in the process is also critical to improving safety on all excavation sites, protecting the public from excavation damage-related incidents and ensuring the reliability of the subsurface utility infrastructure. Each of the Damage Prevention programs works in concert to support the mission statement of the Damage Prevention and Compliance organization which is, "Demonstrate our commitment to public safety and damage prevention through regulatory compliance, education and awareness."

Contact: DamagePrevention@pge.com

PG&E's L&M Program is a component of the Damage Prevention organization within PG&E's Gas Operations. Today PG&E has more than 320 full-time employee locators across our coverage territory supplemented by additional contracted locating support. The L&M team responds to 811 notifications (also known as "tickets") from excavators who have requested to have their excavation site located and field marked, or cleared, for the presence of its subsurface installations. This is normally done by a locator in the field who will review records or maps and use specialized equipment to locate the underground utilities. The locations of the utilities are identified when the locators place marks on the ground such as paint, flags, whiskers or chalk. The marks are used to indicate the approximate location of an underground natural gas pipeline, electric cable or fiber optic cable.

Contact: LocateAndMarkManagerSupport@pge.com

The Dig-in Reduction Team (DiRT) is responsible for investigating all excavation related damages to PG&E-owned subsurface installations. DiRT members conduct investigations when incidents occur to include interviews with involved parties, overall scene analysis, USA ticket verification with photo review, and taking measurements related to the incident. DiRT members are familiar with California Excavation Law 4216 GC, Common Ground Alliance's (CGA) Best Practices, and other Federal Regulations related to safe excavation practices. DiRT focuses on preventing incidents from occurring by developing partnerships with excavators, having discussions around safe excavation practices, sharing lessons learned, and working in partnership to keep workers and the public safe.

Contact: DamagePrevention@pge.com

To request a free 811 training, email DamagePrevention@pge.com with the subject line "811 Workshop Request."

DiRT investigator map (PDF)

The objective of the Patrols Process is to observe and maintain surface conditions on and adjacent to the transmission pipeline right-of-way (GT ROW) in order to provide safe access to gas facilities, detect unauthorized excavation, and to document and report any factors affecting pipeline safety and operations. The Patrols Process also covers GT Vegetation Management and pipeline markers.

Contact: AerialGroundPatrolTeam@pge.com

The Standby Governance Team provides onsite PG&E representatives anytime excavation takes place near PG&E's Critical assets to ensure safe excavation practices are being implemented. PG&E provides Standby as a free service as we understand how important this role is in protecting contractors, our communities, and keeping our commitment of providing safe and reliable energy to California. Standby Inspector duties include: monitoring the excavation process, inspection the of PG&E's Gas facilities, reporting of any issues or abnormalities on the facility, observation of the backfill process, and educating excavators of best practices to keep everyone safe. Standby Inspectors are PG&E's "last line of defense" to protect our communities from a critical facility rupture as a result of unsafe excavation. Please help us keep California safe by requesting a Standby Inspector for your excavation when deeming necessary during your onsite field meeting.

Standby Hotline: 1-800-875-7915

Download field meet information brochure (PDF)
Download standby hotline areas (PDF) 

PG&E is committed to on-going communications with the affected public, excavators, emergency response officials and public officials to maintain public safety by raising the awareness of pipelines and reducing the likelihood and potential impact of pipeline damage through education, resources and programs like 811 "Call Before You Dig." The Public Awareness Program is designed to enhance public safety, emergency preparedness and environmental protection through increased public awareness and knowledge and includes outreach activities for professional excavators (EX), local public officials (PO), emergency response officials (ER) and the general affected public (AP) who live and work within PG&E's distribution service territory and near transmission pipelines, gathering pipelines, storage facilities and compressor stations.

Contact: PublicAwareness@pge.com

Educational videos

Natural gas transmission pipeline markers

pipeline map

You can spot PG&E's larger transmission pipelines by looking for pipeline markers. They specify the approximate or offset location; however, not all pipelines follow a straight path between markers. These markers also indicate the need for extra care when digging in the area.

 

Use our interactive online map to find out if there are natural gas transmission pipelines in your area.

View the gas pipeline map

 

Additional information

For additional information about 811 and underground digging or to make an online request, visit these websites.

Take extra care when a pipeline marker is present

Our bright yellow markers indicate a natural gas transmission pipeline is nearby, and display our 24-hour emergency gas hotline number.

Frequently asked questions

Utility owners have two working days, plus the day of the call to mark out their utilities. You will receive a positive response from all utilities responding to your USA ticket.

First step is to delineate your intended area of excavation in white paint, white flags or white markings, and then call 811 or use the online website to submit your request.

The FREE one-call service, or "ticket," is the document you submit through your local one-call center requesting utilities to mark or locate their facilities at your worksite at least two-working days before you begin an excavation. When you call 811 or visit california811.org to submit your ticket online, you will receive a ticket number for your individual request. The ticket number format is "YYYYMMDD" followed by the USA ticket numbers and revision number. For example: 2023040412345-00. Be sure to keep the ticket number assigned to your request for at least the duration of the excavation and preferably longer for your records.

California Government Code 4216(g) defines excavation as any operation in which earth, rock, or other material in the ground is moved, removed, or otherwise displaced by means of tools, equipment, or explosives in any of the following ways: grading, trenching, digging, ditching, drilling, augering, tunneling, scraping, cable or pipe plowing and driving, or any other way.

When digging in an area around utility lines, it is critical that you follow the tolerance zone guidelines. The tolerance zone is an area 24 inches on either side of the outside diameter (or center line if diameter isn't provided) of the marked utility line. In the tolerance zone, you are required to excavate using only human powered hand tools.

Utility companies will mark their lines wherever they own and operate their utility at your dig site. This could be in a roadway, sidewalk, front yard or even in a backyard. PG&E will mark on private property if a gas or electric line is present. Private utility lines (landscape irrigation and lighting, natural gas line to a barbeque, electrical line to a detached garage or shed, etc.) will not be marked since they are not owned by a utility.

Yes, call 811 or visit california811.org at least two working days before you dig, plant or begin any excavation project no matter how large or small. A utility line may be in close proximity to an existing fence or retaining wall you're trying to replace. California law requires you to use this FREE one-call service. The date of notification does not count as part of the two working-day notice. For example, If excavation will begin on Friday, an excavator must call no later than Tuesday.

Each person or company performing an excavation needs to have a ticket created under their name. If you are hiring a contractor to perform work on your property, the contractor needs to contact 811 and submit a request for them or their company. You may also submit a ticket under your name, but your contractor needs to be advised that the ticket you submit only covers any work you do yourself, and not the work they are doing.

Yes, call 811 or visit california811.org at least two working days prior to excavation, including digging and planting. Use hand tools at all times when working within 24 inches of the outside edge of any underground lines. Hand tools such as shovels or post-hole diggers cause the most amount of damage incidents.

811 is a FREE one-call service. Utility members fund the center and the cost of locating the utilities in an effort to provide the public a free service that will prevent or limit damage to underground utilities.

Yes, mark your project area in white paint. If you don't have white paint available, you can also use white stakes, white flags, white whiskers, white chalk and even white baking flour. If you neglect to pre-mark your dig site, utility members may choose not to locate their facilities.

If the damaged utility line poses a threat to life, health, or public safety, evacuate the worksite (300 feet or more upwind from damage) and contact 9-1-1 to dispatch emergency services. If you discover or cause any damage, such as breaks, leaks, nicks, dents, gouges, grooves, or other damage to subsurface installation lines, conduits, coatings or cathodic protection, you must immediately report it to the affected utility member. You can get the emergency contact information for the damaged utility owner by contacting 811 and notify them that you have damaged a facility at your worksite. Never attempt to fix, repair, pinch, squeeze, zip tie or bury the damaged facility.

emergency alert icon If you suspect a gas leak or if you hit, accidentally dent, scrape or damage an underground gas line:

  • Alert others to leave the area and go to a safe, upwind location.
  • Call 9-1-1 to notify local first responders.
  • Contact PG&E at 1-800-743-5000.

The utility members will use the American Public Works Association Color Code system to mark their underground facilities for you.

The color code is:

color code

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