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Virginia Administrative Code
Title 20. Public Utilities and Telecommunications
Agency 5. State Corporation Commission
Chapter 300. Energy Regulation; in General
6/18/2018

20VAC5-300-90. Rules Governing Certification, Operation, and Maintenance of Notification Center or Centers.

A. General provisions. The general provisions applicable to a notification center are:

1. The purpose of this section is to establish minimum standards and requirements for the operation and maintenance of a notification center or centers in Virginia. This section also details application requirements for those desiring to serve as a notification center pursuant to § 56-265.16:1 of the Code of Virginia.

2. The commission may conduct hearings on matters related to notification centers including, but not limited to, the grant, amendment, suspension, or revocation of certificates issued under § 56-265.16:1 of the Code of Virginia and performance standards and other matters related to the requirements of or enforcement of this section or the provisions of Chapter 10.3 (§ 56-265.14 et seq.) of Title 56 of the Code of Virginia, as necessary.

3. Only one notification center shall be granted a certificate for a given geographic area.

4. Only one toll-free number shall be used across the Commonwealth to contact the notification center or centers regarding proposed excavation.

5. Each notification center shall at a minimum comply with the operational standards detailed in subsection C of this section.

6. Each notification center shall have and meet performance standards approved by the commission in order to promote accuracy, cost effectiveness, operational efficiency, and customer satisfaction. The performance standards shall include, at a minimum, standards for indices such as: Average Speed of Answer, Abandoned Call Rate, Busy Signal Rate, Customer Satisfaction and Locate Request Delivery criteria. The standards approved by the commission may be amended upon the request of the notification center, the commission's motion, or the staff's motion, after notice and an opportunity to be heard. Applicants for a certificate shall include proposed performance standards as part of their applications. Notification centers currently holding certificates shall file with the commission their proposed performance standards within 60 days of June 7, 2002.

7. Unless otherwise provided, updates of plans, procedures, programs and information required by this section shall be filed with the commission at least 60 days prior to the implementation of any substantive change to such plans, procedures, programs and information.

8. Notification centers that use or plan to use agents or vendors to provide the primary notification service shall file information relative to the vendor or agent's qualifications to provide these services with the commission. Applicants for a certificate that propose to use an agent or vendor to provide the primary notification service shall file such information as part of their applications. Notification centers currently holding certificates shall file such information with the commission within 60 days of June 7, 2002. A notification center that desires to change vendors or agents providing the primary notification service shall file information relative to the new vendor's or agent's qualifications to provide these services with the commission at least 90 days prior to the change in agent or vendor.

9. The commission's Damage Prevention Advisory Committee (committee) shall review the codes and subcodes used for the operation of the Ticket Information Exchange System. Each notification center shall consider the committee's recommendation relative to the codes and subcodes before their implementation.

10. Each notification center shall assist member operators and the commission in devising an effective public education/awareness plan regarding underground utility damage prevention as required by §§ 56-265.16:1 E and 56-265.32 B of the Code of Virginia.

11. At least 20% of the voting members of each notification center's governing body shall be composed of individuals who are neither utilities or operators nor employed by a utility or an operator. This 20% shall be comprised of individuals that may be impacted by the services provided by the notification center, including excavators, contract locators, property owners, and governmental entities that are not operators or utilities.

12. No notification center shall abandon or discontinue service except with the approval of the commission and upon such terms and conditions as may be prescribed.

13. A violation of any provision of this section, a commission order, or the Underground Utility Damage Prevention Act (Act) may be grounds for suspension or revocation of the notification center's certificate if the commission finds that the notification center or its agent or vendor providing the primary notification service has not, is not currently, or cannot in the future, (i) ensure protection for the public from the hazards that the Act is intended to prevent or mitigate; (ii) ensure that all persons served by the notification center receive an acceptable level of performance; and (iii) be financially responsible for any damages that may result from the notification center's violation of the law or this section. In all proceedings pursuant to this section, the commission shall give notice to the notification center of the allegations against it and shall provide the notification center an opportunity to be heard concerning such allegations prior to making a determination concerning the notification center's certification.

14. The commission may waive any provisions of this section and shall consider requests for waivers of any provisions of this section on a case-by-case basis. The commission may grant a waiver upon such terms and conditions as the commission deems appropriate consistent with the provisions of § 56-265.16:1 of the Code of Virginia.

B. Application requirements. The requirements for an application for a certificate as a notification center are as follows:

1. An original and 15 copies of an application for a certificate shall be filed with the Clerk of the State Corporation Commission, c/o Document Control Center, P.O. Box 2118, Richmond, Virginia 23218 and shall contain all the information and exhibits required herein.

2. Notice of the application shall be given to the public, governmental officials and to operators within the applicant's proposed service area as required by the commission in its initial order docketing the case for consideration.

3. The application shall, at a minimum, include the following information:

a. The applicant's (i) name, corporate address, and telephone number; (ii) corporate ownership; (iii) corporate parent or parents' names, addresses and telephone numbers, if applicable; (iv) officers and directors or, if the applicant is not a corporation, a list of the principals and their directors if said principals are corporations; and (v) legal counsel's names, addresses and telephone numbers;

b. Maps depicting the areas of the Commonwealth in which the applicant is proposing to act as a notification center. Any maps and certificates for notification centers, if granted, will be retained on file in the commission's Division of Energy Regulation;

c. Material detailing the support of persons who potentially may be impacted by the services provided by the notification center, including excavators, operators, contract locators, property owners, and localities;

d. A written comprehensive operating plan detailing the notification center's organizational structure, corporate form, governing structure, personnel qualification criteria, operating budget, financial resources, disaster recovery plan, procedures designed to ensure compliance with this section, and descriptions of physical facilities, computer hardware, software systems, communication facilities, and security and protection components;

e. Proposed performance standards designed to promote accuracy, cost effectiveness, operational efficiency, and customer satisfaction as required by subdivision A 6 of this section;

f. All information necessary to demonstrate clearly the applicant's ability to comply with this section and to meet and implement the operational standards detailed in subsection C of this section; and

g. In the event the applicant proposes to use an agent or vendor to provide the primary notification service, information required by subdivision A 8 of this section.

C. Operational standards. At a minimum, each notification center shall:

1. Be capable of being contacted by means of a toll-free telephone call, teletype, telecopy or personal computer;

2. Be open to participation by any operator of underground utility lines within the notification center's service area granted by the commission;

3. Make filings required by § 56-265.16:1 of the Code of Virginia;

4. Provide emergency service, as needed, 365 days a year, 24 hours per day, and provide regular service Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. through 5 p.m., excluding legal state and national holidays;

5. Maintain such equipment and personnel necessary to ensure a minimum level of performance as detailed in this section and as approved by the commission;

6. Transmit, within one hour of receipt, notices of proposed excavation to member operators by teletype, telecopy, personal computer, or telephone;

7. Transmit, within five minutes of receipt, notice of emergency excavation to member operators by teletype, telecopy, personal computer, or telephone;

8. Maintain adequate equipment to voice record all incoming calls, record all transmissions (tickets or notices) of proposed excavations to member operators and retain those records or recordings for a minimum of six years;

9. Maintain liability insurance coverage on such terms and in such amounts deemed appropriate by the commission;

10. Maintain detailed maps or electronic means depicting the member operator's service areas with underground utility lines and pass on to operators the specific site address or, where addresses do not exist, any combination of multiple points of reference for the site of the proposed excavation such as the distance and direction to the nearest intersection of named or numbered public roads, latitude/longitude, and highway/railroad/pipeline mile markers, etc.;

11. Inform the person giving notice of a proposed excavation of the time frame within which an operator must respond to the notification;

12. Provide the person giving notice of a proposed excavation a ticket number and the names of member operators who will be notified for each locate request;

13. Time and date stamp responses to the Ticket Information Exchange System provided by operators and contract locators;

14. Have interactive data communication equipment to permit remote data entry for member operators and excavators;

15. Have a formal and effective training program for the notification center's employees;

16. Have procedures and practices designed to reduce over-notification;

17. Have a detailed disaster recovery plan that enables the notification center to continue acceptable operation during a disaster;

18. Meet or exceed the performance standards approved by the commission. The notification center shall provide to the commission periodic reports, no less frequently than once per quarter, detailing the various performance standards experienced by the notification center, and shall compare the notification center's standards to the standards found in the U.S. Department of Transportation's "Common Ground, Study of One-Call Systems and Damage Prevention Best Practices" Report (see http://ops.dot.gov/damage.htm) then in effect; and

19. Verify regularly, no less frequently than annually, with the member operators the data provided to the notification center in accordance with 20VAC5-309-130 of the commission's Rules for Enforcement of the Underground Utility Damage Prevention Act.

Statutory Authority

§§ 12.1-13 and 56-265.16:1 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Case No. PUE900033, eff. October 3, 1990; amended, Volume 18, Issue 21, eff. June 7, 2002.

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