News Releases

Sen. Merritt: Underground Utility Safety Compliance Bill Passes Committee

STATE HOUSE (Feb. 1, 2018)Senate Bill 125, authored by State Sen. Jim Merritt (R-Indianapolis), passed out of the Senate Committee on Utilities by a vote of 9-0 today.

SB 125 would address safety concerns that became known this summer after MetroNet contractors damaged more than 30 gas pipelines, which prompted the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) to investigate the damage associated with MetroNet’s installation of cable wires.

This bill would ensure that utilities and telecommunication companies hire qualified and reputable excavators, provide information on their contracted excavators to the IURC, and that hired excavators are informed of Indiana’s “Call Before You Dig” law.

“When a natural gas line is hit and damaged, there is a chance of explosion or fire. That is an unacceptable outcome for residents who trust that the excavator is doing their job correctly,” Merritt said. “This bill is an incremental step forward in assuring the safety of our communities.”

SB 125 would also provide that the IURC may report to the Indiana Office of the Attorney General an excavator who has violated the “Call Before You Dig” law, is a foreign entity, or who has failed to register with the Indiana Secretary of State. Excavators not in compliance could be fined up to $10,000.

In 2017, there were more than 2,500 excavation damages statewide. This includes all utilities — gas, electric, cable, water and sewer.

The bill now moves to the full Senate for further consideration.


Contact: Lauren Beatty, Press Secretary