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Verendrye Electric Cooperative fined $5000 for one-call violation

The Public Service Commission has fined Verendrye Electric Cooperative $5,000 for violating the state’s “one call" law.

The incident happened in 2018. The complaint was filed by Warren Colby of Voltaire. He had been digging post holes. Colby alleged Verendrye failed to correctly mark an underground power line within 24 inches horizontally, which is provided in state law. Verendrye had contracted with Summit Utility Services to mark the lines.

PSC Chairman Brian Kroshus said the markings were off by a few inches.

"As a result, Mr. Colby did strike an unjacketed line, a 15KV cable," Kroshus said.

Kroshus said Colby was electrocuted to a degree, and suffered injuries. He called it a serious incident, that could have been a lot worse.

"But there's also no disputing the fact that Verendrye did follow the process in a timely fashion, and im compliance with the law, with the exception the contractor," Kroshus said. "Verendrye is responsible for the actions of that contractor."

The PSC originally proposed $7,500 in fines, with $2,500 suspended.

Kroshus says Verendrye has been a very good operator, and has followed the “one call” law. And he says Colby did appear at the hearing, saying he did so for the purposes of educating the public, so it didn’t happen to someone else.

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