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The Oregon Public Utility Commission (PUC) oversees the investor-owned utilities who are required to maintain safe, reliable, and secure operation of electric power and thousands of miles of telecommunication lines located throughout Oregon. The PUC establishes and enforces regulations and promotes practices so the state’s right-of-ways, both underground and overhead power lines, are constructed, operated, and maintained in a safe and efficient manner. Issues of concern include joint use of utility poles and conduits, reliability of service, security, and incidents involving contact with electrical utility facilities.
The Oregon Administrative Rules and National Electrical Safety Code (NESC) provides the standards for the construction, operation, and maintenance of electric supply, telecommunication lines, and associated equipment. Utilities must design to meet or exceed these standards. The NESC applies to the utility infrastructure all the way to the point of service or meter on a home or building. Lines or devices from the meter into the building must comply with the National Electric Code, which is not enforced by the PUC. Every operator subject to compliance with these regulations must have a program to identify and correct facilities in violation of these regulations. The PUC inspects operator facilities across the state and documents observed probable violations. This is done to help ensure the utility is accurately identifying and correcting areas of concern based on NESC standards.
The PUC partners with other agencies and organizations to remind Oregonians to stay safe around utility lines.
Whether a professional or a homeowner doing a do-it-yourself project, call 811 to have underground utilities located prior to beginning any digging project.
The Oregon Utility Notification Center (OUNC), who operates the free 811 one-call center, will notify the affected local utility companies that serve the area of your planned project. Utility personnel will visit your project site to mark the approximate location of the underground lines, pipes and cables in your planned digging area.
Statistics show that a majority of line strikes occur June through September at a time when more yard work is being done. In 2017 an estimated 439,000 line strikes occurred nationwide, 25 percent of which were due to insufficient notice to the 811 service.
Serious injury or fatal electrocution can occur if farm equipment, including irrigation pipes, get too close or accidentally touch a live power line. Overhead distribution lines carry up to 22,000 volts of electricity in agricultural settings. The agricultural community is reminded to:
Call 811 Before You Dig
811 Service Question or Complaint
Safety Reports & Forms
Contact the PUC
Utility Service or Vegetation Complaint
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