State: Staking failures by Consumers pose injury risk

Kalamazoo and Battle Creek
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KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — The Michigan Public Service Commission is ordering Consumers Energy to take action after the utility company failed to mark underground lines “in a timely manner” in more than 20,000 cases.

The MPSC says the delay violates a state act and could lead to injuries and damage to underground utilities.

The commission says all of the violations happened in April and May after MISS DIG 811 was notified of plans to excavate the area, so crews could avoid hitting buried natural gas and electrical lines.

A spokesperson for the commission said of the 20,000 violations tracked, two counties stood out: Kalamazoo and Oakland.

The MPSC’s Gas Operations Section staff also found Consumers only partially responded to staking requests in many other cases.

In a statement released Friday afternoon, Consumers Energy acknowledge it has “not met expectations” in staking underground natural gas and electric lines. The utility company said it’s seen an unprecedented increase in staking requests since earlier this spring, which has challenged its current two staking contractors in several metro areas.

“The safety of our communities is our number one priority as a company and we are taking steps to fix the problem,” the company said, adding that it’s adding a third contractor and reprioritizing work to finish staking requests in “key areas.”

Consumers has until June 28 to file its response to the reported violations of the MISS DIG Underground Facility Damage Prevention and Safety Act. Those interested in participating in the case has until June 28 to file a request with the MPSC.

Anyone planning an excavation project is urged to contact MISS DIG 811 for staking at least three days before beginning work.

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