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Pa. One Call defends costs for safe digging April 6, 2017 12:00 AM By Laura Legere / Harrisburg Bureau

Pa. One Call defends costs for safe digging

April 6, 2017 12:00 AM

By Laura Legere / Harrisburg Bureau

HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania’s safe digging organization defended the cost of its system on Wednesday, reporting to legislators that the price per notification for companies with buried lines in the state is the second-lowest in the nation.

The CEO and general counsel for West Mifflin-based Pennsylvania One Call System, Inc. testified during a House Consumer Affairs Committee hearing that the 45-year-old nonprofit has had annual audits, regular reviews of its compensation for employees and three rate studies by outside accounting firms that confirm the system’s structure for charging buried line owners and excavators is fair.

“The average cost of a ticket nationwide is $1, but [Pennsylvania One Call System’s] current ticket cost is 80 cents, or 20 percent less than the national average,” said the system’s general counsel, William Boswell.

Pennsylvania One Call operates the communications network that relays digging notifications to the operators of underground utility lines. It has faced criticism from excavators and small, non-utility operators that the costs to participate in the system are too high, the committee’s chairman, Rep. Robert Godshall, R-Montgomery, said.

Kevin Moody, general counsel for the Pennsylvania Independent Oil and Gas Association, said after the hearing that a member of his organization with a similar number of miles of pipeline in Pennsylvania and West Virginia pays eight times as much to participate in Pennsylvania’s One Call system, in part because of differences in the ways the systems allocate charges.

Pennsylvania’s One Call law will expire at the end of year unless it is extended by the Legislature. Proposed revisions to the law would have it cover more types of pipelines and excavations and change which agency has responsibility for enforcing the law.

Mr. Godshall said he intends to hold a separate hearing on those proposals.

Laura Legere:

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