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Piedmont Natural Gas requires contractors to adopt new safe digging program; reports fewer damages to its underground facilities

2021-04-01 12:38 ET - News Release

- April is National Safe Digging Month.
- Digging before calling 811 to have underground utility lines marked can be dangerous, costly.

CHARLOTTE, N.C., April 1, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Even as damages to underground utility lines across the nation rise, Piedmont Natural Gas is reporting an 8% decrease in the Carolinas and Tennessee. The company credits new damage prevention initiatives and increased public awareness campaigns.

Piedmont reported approximately 200 fewer damages to its underground lines in 2020 than in 2019. This success coincides with Piedmont's adoption of the Gold Shovel Standard, a non-profit organization that promotes safe digging practices using standardized performance metrics. Piedmont requires all its contractors to be Gold Shovel Certified and remain in good standing with the program.

"We've made it a simple choice for contractors who want to partner with Piedmont; we give preference to contractors who have adopted the Gold Shovel Standard and are committed to safe digging practices," said Brian Weisker, senior vice president and chief operating officer for Piedmont Natural Gas. "The results so far have been phenomenal, and we are so proud to work with a group of contractors who have joined us in preventing unnecessary, potentially dangerous situations in our communities."

Calling 811 is a free nationwide service. Contractors, homeowners, businessowners and anyone preparing for a digging project of any kind should call 811 at least three business days before digging begins. The local utilities will then send a crew to mark underground lines in the area (electric, natural gas, water, sewer, phone, cable TV and others) with stakes, flags or paint.

"Underground natural gas lines are perfectly safe, and they operate best when left alone to do their jobs undisturbed," Weisker continued. "The Gold Shovel Standard, combined with other damage prevention initiatives including advertising and social media, are making a real difference for Piedmont."

Additionally, for the month of April 2021, Piedmont is testing geofencing – a technology that targets contractors by texting them an 811 safe digging reminder message as soon as they enter specific businesses that sell construction materials.

Piedmont reported 2,527 cuts to its underground natural gas lines in the Carolinas and Tennessee in 2019. In 2020, this number fell by 205 (about 8%) to 2,322 damages. In its most recent report, the Common Ground Alliance (CGA) said there were 532,000 damages to underground facilities nationwide in 2019, compared to 509,000 in 2018. The CGA is a national organization that unifies all 50 states in a shared effort to prevent damage to underground utilities.

For a video that shows how to use 811, click here. For additional information about 811, visit Call 811 Before You Dig or see our story on illumination: Call 811 before you start digging. To get in touch with the 811 center in your state, dial 811 or visit call811.com.

Piedmont Natural Gas

Piedmont Natural Gas, a subsidiary of Duke Energy, is an energy services company whose principal business is the distribution of natural gas to more than 1 million residential, commercial and industrial customers in North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. The company also supplies natural gas to power plants. Piedmont is routinely recognized by J.D. Power for excellent customer satisfaction and has been named by Cogent Reports as one of the most trusted utility brands in the U.S. 

Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK), a Fortune 150 company headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., is one of the largest energy holding companies in the U.S. It employs 30,000 people and has an electric generating capacity of 51,000 megawatts through its regulated utilities, and 3,000 megawatts through its nonregulated Duke Energy Renewables unit.

Duke Energy is transforming its customers' experience, modernizing the energy grid, generating cleaner energy and expanding natural gas infrastructure to create a smarter energy future for the people and communities it serves.

Duke Energy was named to Fortune's 2020 "World's Most Admired Companies" list, and Forbes' 2019 "America's Best Employers" list. More information about the company is available at duke-energy.com. The Duke Energy News Center contains news releases, fact sheets, photos, videos and other materials. Duke Energy's illumination features stories about people, innovations, community topics and environmental issues. Follow Duke Energy on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook.      

Media contact: Jennifer Sharpe
Phone: 877.348.3612
Email: jennifer.sharpe@duke-energy.com

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