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MPSC: Consumers Energy Must Explain Gas Safety Practices
Michigan Ag Connection - 06/10/2019

The Michigan Public Service Commission ordered Consumers Energy Co. to respond to findings that the company did not mark underground utility lines in a timely manner in more than 20,000 instances where MISS DIG 811 was notified of plans to excavate.

The MISS DIG system is a public safety program to avoid accidental strikes of buried utility facilities while digging. If a utility fails to mark underground electrical, telecommunications, natural gas, or other utility lines, it could be found in violation of Public Act 174 of 2013, the MISS DIG Underground Facility Damage Prevention and Safety Act. The Act requires facility owners or operators, after proper notice, to respond to a MISS DIG request before a project begins.

"Both state law and the Commission's safety rules require gas and electric utilities as well as communications providers to accurately mark their facilities within a required timeframe," said Sally Talberg, chairman of the MPSC. "Full compliance with this requirement is critically important to protect public safety, maintain the integrity of the MISS DIG process, and keep construction projects on schedule, especially during this busy construction season."

The MPSC's Gas Operations Section Staff in April and May tracked Consumers' responses to requests to mark utility lines (Case No. U-20569). They found the company failed to act in a timely manner on more than 20,000 requests to mark natural gas and electrical lines and only partially responded to many others. Failure to mark utility lines can result in personal injury and damage to underground facilities.

Consumers must file by 5 p.m. June 28 in the case docket its response to the Commission's findings of violations to Act 174. Anyone who is interested in participating in the case has until June 28 to file a request. Consumers and its counsel also must appear for a prehearing conference at 9 a.m. July 10 at the Commission's offices, 7109 W. Saginaw Highway, Lansing.

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