ATLANTA, July 5, 2002 — A damage prevention program implemented by Atlanta Gas Light Company (AGLC) in 1999 is now paying off with a greater awareness by contractors and others of the need to protect the company’s 55,584 miles of natural gas pipeline.
AGLC instituted its damage prevention program when company officials tracked a growing number of incidents annually that mirrored metro Atlanta’s increased growth-related construction. The company developed a department of seven damage prevention specialists who work to educate state and local officials, underground facility locating services, building contractors and other excavators about locating pipelines before excavation begins. The specialists are also available to address problems that arise during construction projects, handle other issues in the field and generally assist with insuring the protection of AGLC infrastructure.
Thanks to the program, AGLC has seen a 25.1 percent decline in third party damages for January-March 2002, compared to the same period in 2001. Third party damages from contractors and other excavators went from 1,189 incidents in the first quarter of 2001 to 891 in the same quarter of 2002, a decline of 298 incidents. Over the past two years, the program has produced declines each quarter save one, reducing damages overall by 25.3 percent or 1,764 incidents.
“Part of our company’s commitment to the public is to ensure safety of our operations and prevent accidents from occurring,” said J. Terry McCready, AGLC’s director of damage prevention. “Toward this goal, the company has put a lot of resources against damage prevention, and it is paying off in a better safety record.”
The Georgia Utility Facility Protection Act requires that contractors, homeowners and anyone who uses mechanical digging equipment contact the Georgia Utility Protection Center to have underground utilities located and marked before excavation begins. In 2001, AGLC performed in excess of 750,000 of these “locates,” as the locating service is known, at a cost of more than $12 million to the company. Despite the service, which is free to excavators, there were 5,500 damage incidents in 2001 caused by third party digging.
According to McCready, more than 40 percent of the incidents occur when excavators do not request the locating service, which is required by law. Excavator error is the culprit more than 40 percent of the time when the pipes are marked correctly. Less than 20 percent of the damage incidents are locator error.
The challenge according to McCready is to educate and encourage every excavator to request the free location services supplied by the company.
“Many of the contractors think that hitting a small pipe will not cause much damage, but that’s not true,” said Colleen Heflin, who manages the AGLC damage prevention specialists. “The small pipes, which are called `services,’ lead to homes, businesses and other end users. Almost 80 percent of the damage incidents are to service pipes. We do not want any of the AGLC facilities damaged, as all damages have the potential for problems.”
While proud of what the program has accomplished, both McCready and Heflin continue to push for further reductions in damage incidents by reminding homeowners and contractors to call before they dig. The number of the Georgia Utility Protection Center is 800.282.7411.
Atlanta Gas Light Company, a wholly owned subsidiary of AGL Resources Inc. (NYSE: ATG – News), is the largest natural gas distributor in the Southeast and provides delivery service to more than 1.5 million customers in Georgia. In operation since 1856, the company is one of the oldest corporations in the state. For more information, visit www.atlantagaslight.com.
AGL Resources Inc. (NYSE: ATG – News) is an Atlanta-based energy services holding company. Nearly 2 million natural gas customers are served through subsidiaries Atlanta Gas Light Company, Virginia Natural Gas and Chattanooga Gas Company. Houston-based subsidiary Sequent Energy Management provides asset optimization services, including the marketing, gathering and transportation of natural gas. As a member of the SouthStar partnership, AGL Resources markets natural gas to consumers in Georgia under the Georgia Natural Gas brand. AGL Networks, the company’s telecommunications subsidiary, owns and operates a fiber optic network in Atlanta. For more information, visit www.aglresources.com.