CALL 6: State can't fine MetroNet over gas line hits

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission is expected to release the results of its investigation Tuesday into recent gas line ruptures and their connection to Indiana cable and internet provider MetroNet.
 
The cable company’s subcontractors are accused of breaking at least 20 gas lines in Fishers and Carmel this summer.
 
“That’s not normal,” said Kerwin Olson, executive director of the Citizens Action Coalition, a utility watchdog group. “This has been an ongoing problem for MetroNet.”
 
Both Fishers and Carmel have halted MetroNet work as the IURC conducts its investigation, and are waiting on the findings before deciding whether MetroNet can proceed.
 
Olson said IURC has no authority to issue a fine or punishment against MetroNet, because it was the excavators hired by MetroNet who actually caused the damage.
 
“Ultimately though, it's MetroNet's responsibility,” said Olson. “They're hiring companies to dig on their behalf. if it's a subcontractor or a 3rd party, ultimately it doesn't matter. It's metro net that should be responsible and accountable for what's going on."

Multiple contractors hired by MetroNet are involved in the Fishers and Carmel ruptures, but the names of those companies have not yet been released.
 
IURC’s Pipeline Safety Division investigates and determines whether or not the contractor broke the law, and who is at fault.
 
Olson and State Senator Jim Merritt (R-Indianapolis) are pushing to change the law so that utilities can be held accountable for the actions of who they hire, including subcontractors and excavators.
 
“This is such a big deal because the safety of the public is at risk,” said Olson. “We're talking about underground wires that could be electrical , could be gas, could be sewer lines. "
 
Fishers and Carmel are expected to release statements Tuesday in response to the IURC’s findings.
Last month, the city of Fishers and Carmel both issued “no-dig" orders for Metronet following gas line ruptures.

Metronet released the following statement regarding the gas line breaks:

MetroNet was extremely disappointed to learn today that one of its contractors inadvertently made contact with a gas line in the Fox Run subdivision in the City of Fishers.  Officials from Vectren and the City of Fishers were immediately notified.  This incident occurred despite MetroNet mandating that its contractors utilize hydro-excavating procedures to locate gas lines.  Because this directive was disregarded, the crew responsible for the incident was terminated on the spot.  Additionally, MetroNet has halted all construction in the City of Fishers and is taking measures to reinforce and confirm that its contractors are following proper construction procedures.

MetroNet has deployed close to a million feet of fiber optic cable throughout the City of Fishers to connect residents and businesses to its world class infrastructure and Gigabit level Internet speeds.  Despite this high volume of construction activity, the Company has only experienced a small number of utility strikes.  However, regardless of the ratio of strikes to the magnitude of construction, MetroNet is committed to ensuring public safety and eliminating disruptive construction practices in each and every case.

RELATED | Greenwood residents ready to cut ties with Metronet before its installed | Fishers, Carmel issue 'no-dig' order for Metronet after gas line rupture

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