For Immediate Release
BALTIMORE (April 12, 2021) – April is National Safe Digging Month, and BGE is joining Miss Utility of Maryland – the one-call notification center for Maryland – to remind residents, businesses and contractors that safe digging must remain a priority to prevent damage to critical underground energy services and keep communities safe. Particularly with the continued impact of COVID-19, homeowners are spending more time than ever at home potentially engaged in home improvement activities that require digging.
With improved weather, the amount of commercial digging also increases for construction projects and landscaping, and that may further accelerate as projects that were delayed by the pandemic resume. Failure to contact 811 to have underground utilities marked remains the leading cause of damages and injuries nationwide. BGE has been working with excavators to eliminate this unnecessary risk, and the reliability of BGE electric and natural gas service continues to improve. However, any damage caused by unsafe digging practices carries the potential for serious injuries, service outages and penalties.
Anyone planning to take on a spring DIY project that involves digging must call 811 at least two business days before beginning to learn the approximate location of underground utility equipment. Beyond fines and costs for repairing damage to underground utility lines, taking the right steps before digging will help avoid accidental damage to underground lines that could disrupt service to surrounding neighbors, but more importantly prevent potential injury from striking an underground electric, natural gas or other utility line.
Recent statistics indicate that one out of every three digging-related incidents are caused by someone who did not contact 811 before digging. A recent survey also found that 45 percent of homeowners who are planning digging projects do not plan to call 811 beforehand, putting themselves and their communities at risk.
In 2020 alone, BGE was called to more than 349 incidents where damage was caused to underground electric or gas lines due to unsafe digging practices. Digging without knowing the approximate location of underground equipment can result in costly repairs when gas, electric, communications, water, and sewer lines are damaged. Every digging project, no matter how large or small, warrants a call to 811. Landscaping, planting trees and shrubs, installing a fence or mailbox, and building a deck, pond, or patio, are all examples of digging projects where a call to 811 must be one of the first steps.
More than 60 percent of BGE's electric lines – approximately 17,000 circuit miles – are located underground and BGE manages more than 7,000 miles of buried natural gas lines in its region, many of which cross through residential properties. Properly locating these lines is essential to safely completing a digging job.
Residents and businesses should take the following steps if planning a digging project this spring:
When calling 811 at least two business days prior to digging, customers and contractors are connected to Miss Utility of Maryland to provide information about their project to local utility companies. Professional locators will then visit the dig site to mark the approximate location of underground utility lines with spray paint, flags, or both. Once a site has been accurately marked, it is safe to begin digging around the marked areas.
BGE joins the Exelon family of companies, the other 1,700 Common Ground Alliance members, the U.S. Department of Transportation, and governors across the country in marking April as National Safe Digging Month to bring extra attention to the issue of underground utility line safety and reducing the risk of unnecessary infrastructure damage.
For more information on digging safely, including how to get lines marked and what to do after lines are marked visit www.bge.com/811, or contact the BGE Damage Prevention team at 410.470.6698 to arrange for free damage prevention training.
BGE is Maryland's largest natural gas and electric utility, providing safe and reliable energy delivery to more than 1.3 million electric customers and more than 680,000 natural gas customers in central Maryland. The company was founded in 1816 as the nation's first gas utility and remains headquartered in Baltimore City to this day. BGE is a subsidiary of Exelon Corporation (Nasdaq: EXC), the nation's leading competitive energy provider. Engage with the latest BGE stories on bgenow.com and connect with BGE on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.