In 2015 a new law was passed assigning the PUCO with the duties of enforcing Ohio’s damage prevention laws. Aggrieved parties will have the option of reporting alleged compliance failures to the PUCO to be investigated. When the investigation is complete, the PUCO will then forward the information to the Underground Technical Committee (UTC), a committee made up of individuals with knowledge and experience in safe excavation, who will decide if a compliance failure occurred and determine an appropriate consequence.
What is the purpose of the new damage prevention registration fee?
In order to pay the costs of enforcing the new damage prevention laws, users of the One-Call (Call Before You Dig) system must register with the PUCO and pay an annual registration fee of not more than $50. Failure to register may result in a fine of up to $2,500.
Who must register?
Any excavator, developer, designer or utility operator conducting business in Ohio that participates in (or is required to participate in) the One-Call system must register and pay the registration fee. Individuals who use the One-Call system just to perform excavation work on his or her own residential property will not be required to pay the registration fee.
How do I register?
The PUCO will work with the Ohio Utilities Protection Service and the Oil and Gas Producers Utilities Protection Service to obtain a list of registrants. The PUCO will then issue invoices to those companies and individuals with instructions that include the amount to pay and where to send the payment. In other words, all you have to do is wait until the PUCO sends you an invoice.
Why am I receiving an invoice?
Your company has been identified as a commercial excavator, developer, designer or utility operator and, therefore, is required by law to register and pay the fee. Instructions are included on the invoice.
What if I have received an invoice in error?
If you feel that you have received this invoice in error, please contact the PUCO at 800-686-7826, option 4.
Who can submit a complaint?
To do so, you must be an aggrieved party as defined by the law. In other words, you must be a person with duties and obligations under damage prevention law and directly involved with or impacted by the alleged compliance failure. If you're unsure if you fall into either category, examples are provided to further clarify who can submit a complaint.
What information should be included in a complaint description?
The complaint can only be properly addressed with adequate information. Please be detailed in your description and fully explain what happened when the violation occurred. For instance, include information such as: what happened, when it happened, why you believe this is a violation, how you discovered the alleged violation, what happened after you discovered the alleged violation, etc. The more fully the UTC understands the situation the better it can properly decide if a violation occurred. Additionally, it can expedite the process because the UTC sometimes requests more information from parties further delaying the conclusion of the case.
Below is an example of an adequate description:
Our company received notification from OUPS that there was going to be an excavation at 123 Main St. The ticket requested that the entire property be located and the deadline to mark the ticket was Wednesday at 12:43 p.m. Our locator arrived at the site on Wednesday at 9:20 a.m. to locate our facilities and discovered that the excavator had already begun digging. The excavator had dug a trench approximately 10’ by 5’ and about 6’ deep using a back hoe. A 2” gas service line was exposed and scratched but no gas was released and no one was injured.
What happens after a complaint is submitted?
The PUCO will notify the complainant (person who submitted the complaint) that the case has been assigned and is under investigation. After receiving that information, we encourage you to send any supporting documentation that you have (pictures, damage claims, OUPS tickets, etc.) to assist with the investigation. The PUCO will notify the respondent (person who committed the alleged compliance failure) within 10 business days and will provide the details of the complaint.
What will an investigation consist of?
The PUCO investigation will center on getting statements from both the complainant and the respondent regarding the alleged compliance failure. Both parties will also have an opportunity to provide supporting documentation such as pictures, locate tickets and other relevant material.
Who decides the case?
Cases are reviewed by the UTC, a committee of industry representatives. Once the UTC has made a decision, both parties will be notified by the PUCO of the outcome. If you are interested in attending a UTC meeting, upcoming meeting schedules and agendas will be posted below.
How can I appeal a decision?
Either party may file a request for reconsideration. Written applications must be filed within 30 days and must state the grounds for reconsideration.