SDG&E reminds customers to "call before they dig"

Media Contact:
Allison Zaragoza

San Diego Gas & Electric

(877) 866-2066


        SAN DIEGO, April 30, 2010 – San Diego Gas & Electric Co. (SDG&E) is reminding customers to “call before they dig” to avoid damaging buried natural gas and electric lines when planning projects in their yard.  This year, April was designated as National Safe Digging Month to help remind customers to “call 811 before they dig.” With the arrival of spring, many people begin to think of new household projects, such as planting a garden, putting up a new fence, digging a swimming pool, or other yard renovations. 

        “Because gas pipelines and some electric lines are located underground and out of sight, sometimes just inches below the surface, we urge homeowners to call the Underground Service Alert to have utility-owned lines marked out before they start their project,” said J. Bret Lane, vice president of field services for SDG&E.  “Thinking ahead and calling for this free service will help avoid unnecessary and costly damage, possible injury or service interruption.”

        According to SDG&E, there were about 300 preventable customer and contractor “dig-in” incidents last year.  The company hopes to help to decrease that number this year through increased public awareness.

        Customers should call Underground Service Alert toll-free by simply dialing 8-1-1 at least two business days before digging in their yard.  As a free service, Underground Service Alert will contact SDG&E and other area utilities.  Each utility will then locate and mark the underground facilities they own.

        SDG&E-owned pipelines typically extend from the gas main, in front of or behind the home, to the gas meter.

        Customer-owned natural gas piping and buried electrical lines are lines that run beyond the gas meter or electric panel to a building or area where gas-fueled or electric equipment or appliances are located.  To have these lines located and marked, SDG&E advises customers to call pipe and cable locating service companies or plumbing contractors who provide maintenance services.

        “Once all lines are marked, customers and contractors should carefully use only hand-digging tools within two feet on each side of marked gas and electric lines,” Lane said.

        No damage is too small to report.  Even a slight gouge, scrape or dent to a pipeline or coating may cause a break or leak in the future.  If a customer causes what seems to be only minor damage to a pipeline, or any component attached to the pipeline, they should still notify SDG&E immediately by calling (800) 611-7343.
        SDG&E is a regulated public utility that provides safe and reliable energy service to 3.4 million consumers through 1.4 million electric meters and more than 840,000 natural gas meters in San Diego and southern Orange counties.  The utility’s area spans 4,100 square miles.  SDG&E is committed to creating ways to help our customers save energy and money every day.  SDG&E is a subsidiary of Sempra Energy (NYSE: SRE), a Fortune 500 energy services holding company based in San Diego.