Before the House Consumer Affairs Committee
Hearing on Legislation Amending The Underground Utility Line Protection Law
Testimony of Terrance J. Fitzpatrick, President & CEO
Energy Association of Pennsylvania
June 5, 2017
Good morning Chairman Godshall, Chairman Caltagirone and members of the House Consumer Affairs Committee. I am Terry Fitzpatrick, President and CEO of the Energy Association of Pennsylvania (“EAP” or “Association”), a trade association comprised of electric and natural gas utilities operating in Pennsylvania. Thank you for this opportunity to appear on behalf of our members1 and testify regarding legislation amending the Underground Utility Line Protection Law, commonly referred to as the “One Call” law.
By way of background, the Energy Association’s main functions are to advocate positions before state agencies (most notably the Public Utility Commission) and the General Assembly, and to assist its members in sharing best practices. EAP also provides educational opportunities for its members (as well as for out-of-state utilities, government employees, and other interested parties) through its annual conferences on electric and gas operational issues and consumer service issues.
With regard to all of EAP’s activities, no issue is more important than promoting safety for customers, employees, and the general public. Safety issues are frequently on the agendas for our electric and gas operations conferences, and EAP has an Accident Prevention Committee that recognizes superior performance with annual safety awards. EAP also attends meetings of the Board of Directors of the PA One Call system and participates in three of the system’s “Safety Days” programs each year. Established more than 40 years ago as a “call before you dig” communications service in Southwestern Pennsylvania, “PA One Call” was designed to protect underground utility facilities from damages resulting from excavation projects. After becoming law in 1974, the “one call” concept continued to expand throughout the Commonwealth (and beyond) to provide for a single nationwide toll free telephone number or 811 number, whereby excavators, designers, or other persons could notify “facility owners” thorough a central third party entity of their intent to “dig” in an area which may (or may not) include underground facilities, i.e. pipes and wires. In turn, the facility owners would then be afforded the opportunity to mark the underground facility so as to avoid damage during the planned excavation or demolition process.
Please direct any questions or requests for more information to Debra Kitner by email or phone at (717) 901-0607.