Delaware General Assembly







Section 1. Amend Title 16, Delaware Code, by adding thereto new chapter to read as follows:


§ 7401B. Short Title.

This Act shall be known and cited as the ‘Overhead High-Voltage Line Safety Act’.

§7402B. Definitions.

(1) ‘Authorized person’ means:

(a) A qualified employee of a public utility which produces, transmits or delivers electricity, or a qualified employee of an approved contractor of such public utility;

(b) A qualified employee of a public utility which provides communication services to state, county or municipal agencies which have authorized circuit construction on or near the poles or structures of a public utility;

(c) A qualified employee of an industrial plant whose work relates to the electrical system of the industrial plant;

(d) A qualified employee of a cable television or communication services company or an employee of a contractor of a cable television or communication services company if specifically authorized by the owner of the poles to make cable television or communication services attachments;

(e) A qualified employee or agent of state, county or municipal agencies that have or whose work relates to overhead electrical lines or circuit construction or conductors on poles or structures of any type.

(2) ‘Dangerous Proximity’ means: a distance up to and including ten feet of high-voltage lines, or within such greater distances as may be set forth in the current editions and any subsequent revisions of the regulations of the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration (29 C.F.R. § 1910 and § 1926) and the National Electrical Safety Code.

(3) ‘Field Visitation’ means: direct physical observation of electrical lines, facilities and/or appliances by an authorized representative of the utility operating such line, facility and/or appliance.

(4) ‘High Voltage Line’ or ‘High Voltage Overhead Line’ means:

(a) an electric line that is installed above ground; and

(b) has a voltage in excess of six hundred volts measured between conductors or between a conductors and the ground.

(5) ‘Person(s)’ means: any individual, firm, joint venture, partnership, corporation, association, municipality, other political subdivision, state or federal governmental unit, department or agency, state cooperative, association, joint stock association and shall include any assignee, trustee, receiver or personal representative thereof.

(6) ‘Public Utility’ means: every individual, partnership, association, corporation, joint stock company, agency or department of the State or any association of individuals engaged in the prosecution in common of a productive enterprise (commonly called a ‘cooperative’), their lessees, trustees, or receivers appointed by any court whatsoever, that operates within this state, any steam, manufactured gas, natural gas, electric light, heat, power, water, telephone, excluding telephone service provided by cellular technology, or by domestic public land mobile radio service or heating oil) for residential consumption directly to residences by means of a pipeline) service, system, plant or equipment, for public use.

(7) ‘Qualified Employee’ means: An individual who has been trained in working in dangerous proximity to high voltage lines.

§7403B. Presumption.

(1) Until and unless a Field Visitation or written determination is obtained from the public utility operating an electric line that is above ground level and such visitation or writing results in a determination that states otherwise, there is a rebuttable presumption that the electric line is:

(a) To be energized at all times after installation or erection; and

(b) To have a voltage of more than 600 volts.

§7404B. Activity Near Overhead Lines; Safety Restrictions.

(1) Unless the Field Visitation or written approval described in Subsection 3 herein has been obtained and/or there is a written determination that the line is not energized pursuant to Subsection 3 herein:

(a) A person shall not, individually or through an agent or employee, require or permit any person to perform any function or activity upon any land, building, highway or other premises if at any time during the function or activity such person will be required or permitted to place himself for herself, or will be placed within dangerous proximity of any high voltage overhead line, or such person will use tools or materials which will be placed by said person within dangerous proximity of any such high voltage overhead line.

(b) A person shall not, individually or through an agent or employee, operate any mechanical equipment, hoisting equipment, load equipment or equipment of any description so that any portion of such equipment enters into dangerous proximity of any high voltage overhead line.

§7505B. Activity in Dangerous Proximity to High Voltage Overhead Lines; Clearance Arrangements, Procedures, Notice.

(1) If any person intends to carry on any function, activity, work or operation within dangerous proximity of any high voltage overhead line, the person responsible for performing the function, activity, operation or work shall promptly notify the public utility operating the high voltage line. The person may perform such task only after mutually agreeable measures to prevent contact with the applicable high voltage line(s) (‘preventive measures’) have been established and the public utility has given written approval to take such measures and perform the task. Thereafter, such work shall be performed only in accordance with the restrictions or conditions described in such written approval. Such preventive measures may include, but may not be limited to:

(i) coordination of the work and construction schedules between the utility and the person responsible for performing the work;

(ii) the placement of temporary mechanical barriers to separate and prevent contact between material, equipment and/or persons and the high voltage line;

(iii) temporary de-energization and grounding the high voltage lines; and/or

(iv) temporary relocation or raising of the high voltage overhead lines.

At the sole discretion of the utility, costs incurred in devising and implementing such preventive measures shall be borne by the person responsible for performing the work in dangerous proximity to the high voltage overhead line.

§7406B. Penalties and Civil Liability.

(1) Any person and/or agent of a person who violates this Act may be subject to a civil penalty in an amount not to exceed $1,000 for each violation, to be imposed by the court in favor of the State to be deposited in the general fund.

(2) If a violation of this Act results in physical or electrical contact with any high voltage overhead line, the person violating or causing this Act to be violated is liable to the public utility for all damages to the overhead line and related facilities and all costs and expenses, including damages owing to third persons, and cost of defense incurred by the public utility or such third persons as a result of such contact.

§7407B. Exemptions.

(1) This Act does not apply to construction, reconstruction, operation or maintenance of overhead electrical or communication circuits or conductors and their supporting structures or electrical generating, transmission or distribution systems or communication systems by an authorized person or to any other acts performed within the scope of employment of an authorized person and requiring such authorized person to work in contact with or in proximity to such overhead circuits, conductors, structures and systems.

§7408B. Jurisdiction.

The Superior Court shall have jurisdiction over violations of this Act.”

Section 2. The effective date of this chapter shall be January 1, 2000.

Approved July 20,1999