April 05, 2019

SoCalGas Raises Giant Shovel to Remind Southern Californians to Call 811 Before Digging


Thirty-foot-tall shovel brings important public safety message and commemorates National Safe Digging Month


LOS ANGELES, April 5, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- To promote National Safe Digging Month, Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) will bring a 30-foot-tall shovel to the Angel Stadium of Anaheim to raise awareness about the importance of contacting 811 at least 72 hours prior to the start of any excavation project. When residents or contractors dial 811 before any project that involves digging, utility companies will mark the locations of underground lines to prevent them from being damaged, which could cause injury or service outages. 

SoCalGas will take the giant shovel—popular for selfies—to inform area residents about pipeline safety, customer assistance programs and the company's vision for California's Clean Energy Future. The shovel will be at displayed at the Angel Stadium of Anaheim from April 5-7. The partnership includes radio spots on Angels Radio AM830 and an in-stadium video that will air for fans.

On April 9, SoCalGas is partnering with Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), Bakersfield Fire and Kern County Fire to raise awareness about National Safe Digging Month and remind customers to contact 811 before digging in the yard or on the job. Both utilities and fire departments will show paint markings in the street for the approximate location of buried utility lines at SoCalGas' regional base on McMurtrey Avenue near Highways 99 and 65 in Bakersfield starting at 10 a.m.    

An underground utility line is accidentally damaged once every nine minutes nationwide. Those accidents can lead to significant safety hazards or result in costly repair bills for homeowners. Across SoCalGas' service territory, about 60 percent of pipeline damage due to digging is caused by homeowners, contractors, and excavators who did not call 811 before digging.

"Last year, SoCalGas recorded close to 3,000 cases of damage to underground infrastructure caused by customers who did not call 811 prior to digging, but we know that number can be drastically reduced by practicing safe digging," said Rodger Schwecke, senior vice president, gas operations and construction for SoCalGas. "Data shows that when customers call 811 before digging, the likelihood of hitting a utility line is decreased by 99 percent."

In addition to the big shovel being at Angel Stadium, Schwecke will be throwing out the first pitch at the Angels game on Sunday, April 7 at approximately 1 p.m. to bring awareness to calling 811 before you dig.

SoCalGas encourages customers to take the following steps when planning any digging project this spring:

  • Mark out your proposed work area in white (paint, chalk, flour, flags, etc.).  
  • Call 811 or submit an online location request to Underground Service Alert at least two working days prior to when you'll start digging.
  • Wait to hear from us. We'll either come mark our natural gas lines, indicating pipe material and diameter, or let you know that the area is clear.
  • Remember that SoCalGas' uses yellow paint to mark its lines.
  • If you need to dig within 24 inches of a marked utility line, use only hand tools to carefully expose the exact locations of the line before using any power excavation equipment in the area.
  • Report any pipe damage – no matter how big or how small – by calling us immediately at 1-800-427-2200.

811 is the national phone number, designated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), that connects professionals and homeowners who plan to dig with a local call center. The call center collects information about the planned dig site and communicates with the appropriate utility companies, which then send professional utility locating technicians to identify and mark the approximate location of lines. Once lines have been marked, the caller may dig safely around the marks.

About SoCalGas
Headquartered in Los Angeles, SoCalGas® is the largest natural gas distribution utility in the United States. SoCalGas delivers affordable, reliable, clean and increasingly renewable natural gas service to 21.8 million customers across 24,000 square miles of Central and Southern California, where more than 90 percent of residents use natural gas for heating, hot water, cooking, drying clothes or other uses. Natural gas delivered through the company's pipelines also plays a key role in providing electricity to Californians—about 45 percent of electric power generated in the state comes from gas-fired power plants.  

SoCalGas' vision is to be the cleanest natural gas utility in North America, delivering affordable and increasingly renewable energy to its customers. In support of that vision, SoCalGas is committed to replacing 20 percent of its traditional natural gas supply with renewable natural gas (RNG) by 2030. Renewable natural gas is made from waste created by dairy farms, landfills and wastewater treatment plants. SoCalGas is also committed to investing in its natural gas system infrastructure while keeping bills affordable for our customers. From 2014 through 2018, the company invested nearly $6.5 billion to upgrade and modernize its natural gas system to enhance safety and reliability. SoCalGas is a subsidiary of Sempra Energy (NYSE: SRE), an energy services holding company based in San Diego. For more information visit socalgas.com/newsroom or connect with SoCalGas on Twitter (@SoCalGas), Instagram (@SoCalGas) and Facebook.  

Southern California Gas Co. is the nation's largest natural gas distribution utility, providing safe and reliable energy to 20.9 million consumers through nearly 5.8 million meters in more than 500 communities. The company's service territory encompasses approximately 20,000 square miles throughout Central and Southern California, from Visalia to the Mexican border. Southern California Gas Co. is a regulated subsidiary of Sempra Energy. (PRNewsFoto/Southern California Gas Company)



SOURCE Southern California Gas Co.

Contact Info

Vanessa Skillman, Office of Media and Public Information, (213) 244-2442, [email protected]