SAN FRANCISCO, Calif.—Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) today announced findings from a recent survey of 1,750 of its customers that shows 811 – the free service to mark underground utility lines – is well-known but misunderstood and underused in Northern and Central California. To keep everyone safe when digging, PG&E is urging all of its customers, excavators, first responders and businesses across the state to promote the free service and most importantly – to use the service two business days ahead of any digging projects.
Common misconceptions among customers surveyed include:
- Over 50 percent of customers think it’s safe to dig up to 12 inches before needing to call 811.
- All customers and excavators need to call 811 every time they dig, no matter how deep they dig.
- Almost 20 percent of customers believe it’s safe to plant a tree without calling 811.
- Any time customers plant trees in their yards, they need to call 811 two business days before.
- Of the customers who have never called 811 before digging, 60 percent felt their project was too small or believed it was already safe where they were digging.
“PG&E is committed to keeping the community safe, but we need the help of our customers and the community to avoid the potential hazards caused by dig-ins. Our recent survey gets to the heart of the safety issue showing that three in four of our customers are aware of the 811 free marking, but only one in seven have ever called 811 before digging. That’s not good and it needs to get better. Calling 811 is simple, free and can prevent injuries or even save a life,” said PG&E’s Jesus Soto, senior vice president of Gas Operations.
“We want to send the message that no digging project is too small – any time a shovel or digging tool strikes the earth, you need to call 811. Whether you’re planting a tree, installing a mailbox or performing a large-scale excavation, calling 811 or using the new online tool 811express.com should always be the first step,” said Ryan White, general manager of USA North 811.
Last year, there were more than 1,735 strikes on PG&E’s underground infrastructure. Of those dig-ins, more than 55 percent had not called ahead to have underground utility lines properly marked. In 2016, the average cost to those who damaged PG&E’s underground utility lines, including fines and repairs, amounted to $7,500.
August 11 is National Safe Digging Day where the importance of calling 811 two business days before digging is recognized across the nation.
Pacific Gas and Electric Company, a subsidiary of PG&E Corporation (NYSE:PCG), is one of the largest combined natural gas and electric energy companies in the United States. Based in San Francisco, with more than 20,000 employees, the company delivers some of the nation’s cleanest energy to nearly 16 million people in Northern and Central California. For more information, visit www.pge.com/ and pge.com/news.