PUC Directs Allegheny County Contractor to Pay Civil Penalty for Violations of Pennsylvania’s One Call Law
Published on 10/27/2022
West Penn Utilities Ordered to Pay $2,500 Penalty in Case Involving a Strike on Underground Electrical Line in Bethel Park
HARRISBURG – The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) today granted a Motion for Default Judgment (Motion) filed by the PUC’s independent Bureau of Investigation & Enforcement (I&E) against West Penn Utilities, an underground utility construction company, in a case involving a strike on an underground electrical line in Bethel Park, Allegheny County. The line was not marked because West Penn Utilities had failed to contact the Pennsylvania One Call (PA One Call) system prior to excavation, as required by state law.
The Commission voted 5-0 to grant the motion, thereby admitting the allegations of I&E’s Complaint of April 11, 2022 and directing West Penn Utilities to pay a $2,500 civil penalty within 30 days of the entry date of the Commission’s Opinion and Order.
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. In this case West Penn Utilities, as an excavator of a complex project, failed to notify facility owners through the PA One Call System at least ten (10) business days prior to commencing excavation – leading to the company striking and damaging an unmarked electrical line at or near Village Drive in Bethel Park.
The line strike caused a 12 to 24-hour utility service disruption to more than 50 utility customers, damaged nearby landscaping and trees, and resulted in an estimated total cost of damaged line and property repair between $6,000 and $30,000.
In granting the I&E motion today, the Commission deemed that the company was provided with adequate notice of the alleged violations against it, in accordance with Pennsylvania’s One Call Law, and had the opportunity to respond and dispute the violation and administrative penalty assessed against it.
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Docket No.: C-2022-3031862
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