Committee recommends warning letters for most contractors who hit gas lines

Regulators say 2 of 6 companies should get fines
Posted at 5:29 PM, Sep 19, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-19 19:17:57-04

A state regulatory committee has recommended penalties for six contractors they say are responsible for hitting gas lines in Hamilton County this summer.

The Underground Plant Protection Advisory Committee met Tuesday to discuss how to punish cable and internet provider MetroNet’s subcontractors following its investigation into multiple gas line ruptures.

If approved by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission, only two of the six contractors will receive any sort of fine or civil penalty, and the rest will receive warning letters or mandatory training, or both.

Vectren Corporation, headquartered in Evansville, would have to pay $6,000 in civil penalties for failing to properly mark gas lines.

International Inc. Corporation, based in Michigan, faces $13,500 in civil penalties.

An investigation by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission found International Inc. was the MetroNet subcontractor responsible for hitting gas lines in the Fox Run subdivision in Fishers on August 24 and on S. Walnut Street in Westfield on September 8, as well as several other incidents.

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Recommended Penalties:

  • Crosier Lane Consulting – warning letter and mandatory training
  • International Inc. Corporation – $13,500 in civil penalties
  • RC Underground, LLC – warning letter
  • Nexgen Directional, LLC – warning letter
  • Radical Concepts, LLC d/b/a Palindrome Construction – warning letter and mandatory training
  • Vectren – $6,000 in civil penalties

The state committee recommended warning letters for RC Underground, Nexgen Direction, and warning letters and mandatory training for Crosier Lane Consulting and Radical Concepts/Palindrome Construction.

The contractors have 30 days to request a hearing, and after 30 days, the recommendations are sent to the full Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission who can either approve or disapprove the committee’s penalty recommendations.

The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission launched an investigation last month after 20 reports of damage to gas lines in Fishers and Carmel.
The IURC report also revealed all of the subcontractors used by MetroNet are from out-of-state, and of the six under investigation, only one had legally registered to do business in the state of Indiana.
Failing to register with the Indiana Secretary of State’s office can result in a $10,000 fine per company, and the matter has been referred to the Indiana Attorney General for review.

Call 6 Investigates reached out to Vectren for comment on the proposed fine:

“Vectren continues to be aggressively focused on performance improvement relative to damage prevention. Our public awareness program continues to educate homeowners, excavators, first responders, and HVAC and plumbing providers about the importance of “call before you dig” and general public safety. We have seen the locate ticket volume increase 25% from 2015 to 2017. With increased volumes, quality has improved along with it. The total number of damages and our damage rate are both trending downward.”

Call 6 Investigates also contacted MetroNet for a response to the IURC’s report: 

MetroNet takes the IURC’s findings about our contractors seriously, and we support any efforts to improve underground construction, as our goal is always to protect public safety,” said John Cinelli, president of MetroNet. “As a result, we are voluntarily pausing all underground construction in Central Indiana while we conduct further contractor training. We are committed to providing a world-class fiber optic infrastructure in Indiana, and building it in a responsible manner.”