On September 10, PIOGA filed a lawsuit in Commonwealth Court challenging the lawfulness of the manner in which PA One Call charges facility owners for providing them with the contractors’ work locate requests, or “dig” notices. Whether or not the facility owners’ lines are located within the proposed work sites, PA One Call’s municipal activity fee charges all facility owners for all the contractors’ dig notices in each municipality in which the facility owners have registered their lines.

PIOGA’s filing describes the charges to four PIOGA producer members that participate in the PA One Call system. The percentage of notifications that pertained to these members’ lines ranged from 0.3% to 7% of the dig notices billed for the applicable time periods.

PA One Call has, and uses, mapping technology to pinpoint where the contractor’s proposed work site and the location of a facility owner’s lines intersect, but does not use this technology to determine how to charge facility owners for its operation costs. Moreover, PA One Call does not charge contractors for any of its operation costs of providing service to them, instead charging fees that range from $125 to approximately $1.70 per year per contractor for unlimited use by the contractor of PA one Call’s service.

PIOGA’s position is that the Underground Utility Line Protection Law (UULPL) does not require or authorize PA One Call to charge all facility owners for all dig notices and to charge facility owners ­ and only facility owners ­ for all its operation costs. What PA One Call’s municipal activity rate structure ignores is that facility owners such as PIOGA’s members bear the economic burden of participating in the PA One Call system, and a significant part of that burden relates to dig notices that have nothing to do with the locations of their lines and facilities. On the contrary, the public utility, political subdivision and municipal authority facility owners do not bear the economic burden of PA One Call’s charges because their ratepayers, customers or residents do.

PIOGA tried to work out this dispute with PA One Call during the four years the General Assembly was considering the reauthorization of the UULPL, but PA One Call would not alter its methodology or rate structure, forcing PIOGA to initiate this action. A copy of PIOGA’s petition is available on our website at pioga.org/publication_file/PIOGA_Declaratory_Judgment_Petition_&_Exhibits_accepted_copy.pdf.