For Release: 04/28/2017

Peoples Gas, high school students plant tree to celebrate Arbor Day

National Safe Digging Month reminds residents to call 811 before planting

CHICAGO – Peoples Gas today celebrated Arbor Day, an annual observance highlighting the importance of trees, tree planting and care by planting a tree at the main entrance to the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences. The energy company was joined by nearly 300 students, parents and teachers to honor the day.

April also is National Safe Digging Month, which reminds residents to always call 811 at least 48 hours in advance before planting a tree or starting any digging project. National Safe Digging Month is formally recognized by Congress and has traditionally earned support from state governors.

“As April marks the traditional start of digging season, we are using this month to strongly encourage individuals and companies to call 811 before they begin digging,” said Lori Flores Rolfson, vice president – operations and maintenance, Peoples Gas and North Shore Gas. “By calling 811 to have the underground utility lines in their area marked, homeowners and professionals are making an important decision that can help keep them and their communities safe and their services connected.”

In addition to planting a tree, the high school’s students, parents and teachers received a demonstration of the process used to locate and mark utilities underground. Peoples Gas also distributed recyclable bags, seeds, key chains and information about calling 811. “We’re excited to work in partnership with Peoples Gas to help facilitate this Arbor Day event and raise awareness of the importance of calling 811 before any digging project,” said JaMonica Marion, agricultural science department chair at the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences. “It provides our students with the opportunity to connect classroom studies to future careers such as arborists, urban forestry and landscape designers.”

811 Chicago and Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) also attended to provide information on safe digging. When calling 811, homeowners and contractors are connected to 811 Chicago, the local one-call center, which notifies the appropriate energy companies of their intent to dig. Professional locators are then sent to the requested digging site to mark the approximate locations of underground lines with flags, paint or both. Every six minutes, an underground utility line is damaged because someone decided to dig without first calling 811.

“Striking a single line can cause injury, repair costs, fines and inconvenient outages,” said Tom Carney, managing deputy commissioner, CDOT. “Every digging project, no matter how large or small, warrants a call to 811. Installing a mailbox, building a deck and planting a tree or garden all are examples of digging projects that should only begin a few days after a call to 811.”

Power line and natural gas line depth varies for a number of reasons, such as erosion, previous digging projects and uneven surfaces. Location of such lines need to be properly marked because even when digging only a few inches, the risk of striking an underground utility line still exists.

Peoples Gas encourages area residents to visit or for more information about digging safely.

For More Information, Contact:

  • Vanessa Hall


WEC Energy Group