Beginning March 2, 2009, new Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) regulations under the Georgia Utility Facility Protection Act (GUFPA) will go into effect with respect to large projects. The PSC has recognized that for large projects, facility owners/operators have found it difficult to respond to locate requests within the 48-hour notice period required by GUFPA. Also, excavators on such projects, which may last for months or years, have found it burdensome to have a locate ticket expire after 21 days, requiring them to apply for ticket renewals repeatedly over the life of a project. Under the new regulations, the 48-hour notice requirement and 21-day expiration period can be waived.
A “Large Project” is defined as any single mechanized excavation or blasting at a contiguous geographical site that exceeds one linear mile or will require more than 90 days to complete. Under the new regulations, when an excavator contacts the Utilities Protection Center (UPC) to procure a locate ticket, the UPC will decide whether the project will be treated as a Large Project. Once designated as a Large Project, the excavator and facility owners are required to hold a Large Project Planning Meeting and must negotiate a written agreement setting out the project marking schedule and other terms and conditions. The written agreement will serve to exempt the parties from the 48-hour and 21-day requirements noted above, as well as certain other requirements. Failure of the parties to abide by the terms of the agreement will be a violation of the Commission’s regulation and may result in civil and/or criminal penalties.
The new regulations (Rules 515-9-4-.02 and 515-9-4-.13) include several additional requirements as well as a Large Project Sample Utility Facility Locating Agreement.