VALLEJO – PG&E joined local officials from Solano County today (April 24) at an event to boost awareness of the importance of calling 811 before any digging project.
Held at Solano Community College’s Vallejo Campus, the event coincided with National Safe Digging Month.
Speakers included John Higgins, PG&E’s senior director of gas distribution maintenance and construction; Dr. Jerry Kea, dean of Solano Community College; Jess Malgapo, Vallejo City Council member; Erin Hannigan, Solano County Supervisor; and Don Ryan, Solano County Office of Emergency Services Manager.
During the event, PG&E donated a tree to Solano Community College. This was a symbolic opportunity to show off the mark-and-locate process used to identify underground utility lines and to show that customers and contractors need to call 811 before any digging project, even planting a tree. A PG&E mark-and-locate team fielded question during the event.
(Click here to watch a Currents video on how PG&E trains its mark-and-locate teams.)
PG&E experienced more than 1,000 “digs-in” last year, where contractors, homeowners and others struck PG&E equipment while digging underground.
Of those, about two-thirds never called the free 811 line. That line will start the process that allows PG&E (and other utilities) to come out and mark underground gas and electric lines before a project begins.
The event was attended by local Solano County business leaders and officials including Ron Rowlett, a Vacaville council member; Hermie Sunga, a Vallejo council member; Mark Sharp, a Vallejo Fire Department battalion chief; and CC Yin, founder of the Asian Pacific Islander American Public Affairs Association (APAPA) and owner of more than two dozen McDonalds in the area who donated food to the event.
Among the actions being taken by PG&E to increase awareness of 811 include:
- An expanded campaign that includes radio spots, billboards and appearances at public events such as street fairs.
- Supporting a bill in the California legislature that will provide greater awareness and enforcement to make sure contractors call 811.
- Meeting with the top 12 contractors in PG&E’s service territory who have been the most responsible for dig-ins.
- Being more aggressive in calling out negligent contractors and then making sure they pay to repair the damage as well as for businesses and homeowners who are inconvenienced by a dig-in.
Wednesday’s 811 event follows similar events elsewhere in PG&E’s service area over the past week:
On Tuesday (April 23), Nick Stavropoulos, PG&E’s executive vice president of gas operations, presented $25,000 to launch the Central Valley 811 Task Force in Madera and Fresno Counties.
On April 18, PG&E conducted emergency training for first responders in San Mateo County and announced a new 811 Task Force in that county. And, on April 17, PG&E officials met with Alameda County fire chiefs in Oakland where they discussed the county’s new 811 Task Force. PG&E’s John Higgins will co-chair the task force.