New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission
21 S. Fruit Street, Suite 10
Concord, NH 03301-2429
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Underground Damage Prevention Program (Dig Safe)
New Hampshire’s Underground Damage Prevention Program protects excavators, utility operators and the general public from the significant dangers associated with damage to buried gas, power and other utility lines. The New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission is responsible for enforcing the underground utility damage prevention program within our state to ensure public safety and minimize damage to underground facilities.
New Hampshire is served by Dig Safe System, Inc., a not-for-profit corporation located in Wilmington, Massachusetts which also services the states of Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Vermont as a Clearinghouse Center. Excavators are not charged for use of the system. The notification procedure is initiated by one of two methods:
- Telephonically – 811 or 888-DIG-SAFE®
Dig Safe’s normal operating hours are Monday through Friday, exclusive of holidays, from 6:00 am to 6:00 pm. During off- hours, only emergency notifications are processed.
- Quick Ticket – Via the internet @ www.digsafe.com, or the Mobile App.
Another method of notification is known as Quick-Ticket. Quick-Ticket allows the excavator to process routine Dig Safe® tickets online 24 hours a day, 7 days a week after the excavator’s initial registration. The excavator will be able to obtain their Dig Safe number, legal start date, and a list of members notified.
|Do NOT use Quick-Ticket for EMERGENCY NOTIFICATIONS
Historically, the NH PUC’s Safety Division’s predominant responsibility has been tied to pipeline safety and that focal point continues today. The Safety Division regularly inspects natural gas, methane and certain propane pipeline facilities to assure compliance with all Federal and State safety rules and regulations pertaining to the design, construction, operation and maintenance of those facilities. It also investigates incidents involving natural gas resulting in injury requiring hospitalization, a fatality, or property damage exceeding $5,000. The NH PUC is responsible for enforcing safety standards for intrastate natural gas distribution and pipeline systems located within the state. The standards and enforcement actions for the interstate natural gas and hazardous materials pipelines that traverse through the state are the responsibility of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). Since 2014 the Safety Division has sought to act as an agent of the PHMSA federal agency for inspection oversight on an annual basis but to date has not been allowed to do so.
Electrical Safety and Reliability
Since 2002, the Commission transferred the responsibility for electric safety to the Safety Division. Whenever there is electrical contact in which a person has received a shock, flash injury or other injury that resulted from contact with the utility’s facilities, an investigation and report is completed. The Staff routinely participates in simulated drills of emergency response of each of the electric utilities as well as reviews Emergency Response procedures of each of the electric service providers. Operations and Maintenance policies of each of the utilities are reviewed by the Safety Division. The Safety Division leads in coordinating service restoration efforts with the electric utilities during major power outages and acts a liaison for implementing the State’s Emergency Preparedness Plan. The Commission relies on its Safety Division to provide substantive safety oriented input during periodic electric utility service related policy initiatives including providing technical assistance in updating the Puc 300 Rules for Electric Service. Assistance is provided to the Consumer Affairs Division for resolving consumer complaints that involve technical expertise and providing technical input on specific projects ranging from EMFs to facility replacement projects.
Emergency Preparedness and Emergency Response
The Safety Division participates as a subject matter expert for the Energy and Communications Sector– two important sectors of the States Emergency Operation Plan. The Safety Division assists with revisions to the States Emergency Operation’s Plan and related annexes. During state wide emergency in which the Emergency Operations Center is activated, representatives of the Safety Division collect and distribute emergency response activities of the affected utilities.
Prior to activation, the Safety Division routinely participates in emergency exercises and drills conducted by NH HSEM, federal agencies and the majority of the required drills that electric and gas utilities conduct throughout the year. Training sessions attended include Web EOC, Incident Command System and monthly ESF meetings. Familiarization with individual utility-specific emergency response plans allows for feedback regarding PUC expectations as well as allows for a more streamlined state response.
Often, post activation, the Safety Division prepares and publishes comprehensive After Action Reports for those incidents considered historical in nature and affecting large segments of the New Hampshire population. Observations and Recommendations are provided to each utility and the PUC Commission.
The Safety Division participates in the Governor’s Advisory Council on Emergency Preparedness and maintains updated information on critical infrastructure and cyber security.
Physical and Cyber Security
The Safety Division inspects physical plant of energy providers to see if it meets industry standards. These inspections require a review of physical security systems employed by both gas and electric utilities. Facility perimeters, controlled spaces, production spaces, and restricted spaces are reviewed for physical deterrence implementation methods, types of security systems employed, threat level assessments and risk mitigation responses. Topical areas such as lighting, hardware, control systems, access systems, and entry points are evaluated.
Cyber Security, more appropriately referred to as Cyber Safety, is a more recent activity assigned to the Safety Division. The Safety Division monitors cyber security plans developed by the electric and gas utilities for completeness and best practices. Current standards are evolving, both nationally and sector specific, regarding cyber intrusion, detection, prevention and response. The Safety Division participates in national and regional educational opportunities and drill opportunities. Program initiatives include:
- sharing of best practices amongst states,
- collaborating with other agencies,
- piloting projects involving detection sharing techniques of classified information between government entities and private utilities.
The Safety Division has worked extensively with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Office of Energy Infrastructure Security in sharing of strategic frameworks and assessment techniques.
Engineering, GIS and Other Support
The Safety Division maintains a Geographic Information System that contains critical infrastructure and major infrastructure for energy and telecommunication providers within the state. Since 2012, the Safety Division’s capabilities have been augmented with the addition of an analyst with GIS technical skills. This has allowed the Safety Division to update and develop numerous GIS databases for various industry sectors. The Commission has been active in the New Hampshire Department of Safety’s GIS effort to support NH VIEW, and partners with the Division of Emergency Services of the New Hampshire Department of Safety in sharing GIS layers, establishing common symbology, maps and databases used throughout the Commission and by other state agencies. To date, GIS maps have been completed for natural gas, propane, electric, telecommunications, and cable TV.
The Safety Division routinely participates in periodic updates of the Commission’s administrative rules and regulatory proceedings for intrastate gas and electric transmission, distribution and other miscellaneous services, with a focus on issues that mitigate actual or potential threats or hazards that may affect the capabilities of these service providers and operators to deliver safe and reliable services.
The Safety Division is responsible for internally reviewing petitions from utilities to install facility crossings over public waters and State-owned land. The Division’s reviews aid the Commission in determining whether such crossings are necessary to meet reasonable requirements of service to the public and whether they conform to applicable safety codes. The Division identifies potential negative impacts upon the public, while saving petitioners and ratepayer’s potential costs of special assessments applicable to outside consultants.