Accidental Damage Is Costly

Posted on Sep 01 2023 in Marshall County REMC
Dave Lewallen

Accidental damage to electric infrastructure and fiber optic internet lines, whether the lines are buried underground or are overhead, can be costly to those responsible. Unfortunately, the cost of materials and labor in recent years has skyrocketed, causing repairs to become even more expensive.

Oftentimes, damage to underground utilities can be avoided if people are aware of and follow the law. Before any plans involving digging up the ground are put into motion, whoever is performing the work must first remember to call 811 to have buried utilities located. While homeowners and contractors may be eager to get started on a project, they often forget about all the underlying infrastructure underground that is necessary for our homes, farms and businesses to operate.

People often make risky assumptions about whether they should get utility lines marked, but every digging job requires a phone call — even small projects. Buried utility lines are everywhere and can shift locations in some soils. Hitting a utility line not only can disrupt both electrical and fiber optic internet services to homes and neighborhoods, but it can also result in substantial damage claims or serious injury.

The Indiana 811 location service is always free. You must contact 811 at least two full working days prior to excavation to give the member utilities enough time to mark the approximate location of the underground utilities. A “working day” means every day except Saturday, Sunday and state and national legal holidays.

Any activity that puts you or your equipment near overhead power lines or fiber optic internet lines also needs to be treated with extreme caution to avoid costly damage or serious injury. Marshall County Fiber, Marshall County REMC’s partnership with Rochester Telephone Company, now has a substantial amount of new overhead fiber optic internet lines hung on our electric poles throughout the county. We have already seen several instances where vehicles and farm equipment have hit and damaged the new overhead fiber lines. Unfortunately, some of these repairs on large fiber optic cables, whether buried or aerial, have been more than $20,000.

Marshall County REMC would like to remind the public to always be aware of their surroundings when moving anything that could potentially reach up into overhead lines and ALWAYS call for utility location assistance when digging. Because of the potential expense incurred should you damage one of these utilities, most likely these claims will require whoever caused the damage to report the claim through their insurance.

While we would prefer not to put the financial burden for these repairs on those who cause the damage, in an effort to stay financially responsible, these costs must be passed along.