(a) The Notification Center shall establish an Underground Damage Prevention Review Board to review reports of alleged violations of this Article. The members of the Board shall be appointed by the Governor. The Board shall consist of the following members:
(1) A representative from the North Carolina Department of Transportation;
(2) A representative from a facility contract locator;
(3) A representative from the Notification Center;
(4) A representative from an electric public utility;
(5) A representative from the telecommunications industry;
(6) A representative from a natural gas utility;
(7) A representative from a hazardous liquid transmission pipeline company;
(8) A representative recommended by the League of Municipalities;
(9) A highway contractor licensed under G.S. 87-10(b)(2) who does not own or operate facilities;
(10) A public utilities contractor licensed under G.S. 87-10(b)(3) who does not own or operate facilities;
(11) A surveyor licensed under Chapter 89C of the General Statutes;
(12) A representative from a rural water system;
(13) A representative from an investor-owned water system;
(14) A representative from an electric membership corporation; and
(15) A representative from a cable company.
(b) The Notification Center shall transmit all reports of alleged violations of this Article to the Board, including any information received by the Notification Center regarding the report. The Board shall meet at least quarterly to review all reports filed pursuant to G.S. 87-120(e). The Board shall act as an arbitrator between the parties to the report. If, after reviewing the report and any accompanying information, the Board determines that a violation of this Article has occurred, the Board shall notify the violating party in writing of its determination and the recommended penalty. The violating party may request a hearing before the Board, after which the Board may reverse or uphold its original finding. If the Board recommends a penalty, the Board shall notify the Utilities Commission of the recommended penalty, and the Utilities Commission shall issue an order imposing the penalty.
(c) A party determined by the Board under subsection (b) of this section to have violated this Article may initiate an arbitration proceeding before the Utilities Commission. If the violating party elects to initiate an arbitration proceeding, the violating party shall pay a filing fee of two hundred fifty dollars ($250.00) to the Utilities Commission, and the Utilities Commission shall open a docket regarding the report. The Utilities Commission shall direct the parties enter into an arbitration process. The parties shall be responsible for selecting and contracting with the arbitrator. Upon completion of the arbitration process, the Utilities Commission shall issue an order encompassing the outcome of the binding arbitration process, including a determination of fault, a penalty, and assessing the costs of arbitration to the non-prevailing party. Any party may appeal an order issued by the Utilities Commission pursuant to this section to the superior court division of the General Court of Justice in the county where the alleged violation of this Article occurred or in Wake County, for trial de novo. The authority granted to the Utilities Commission within this section is limited to this section and does not grant the Utilities Commission any authority that they are not otherwise granted under Chapter 62 of the General Statutes.
(d) Any person who violates any provision of this Article shall be subject to a penalty as set forth in this subsection. The provisions of this Article do not affect any civil remedies for personal injury or property damage otherwise available to any person, except as otherwise specifically provided for in this Article. The penalty provisions of this Article are cumulative to and not in conflict with provisions of law with respect to civil remedies for personal injury or property damage. The clear proceeds of any civil penalty assessed under this section shall be used as provided in Section 7(a) of Article IX of the North Carolina Constitution. The penalties for a violation of this Article shall be as follows:
(1) If the violation was the result of negligence, the penalty shall be a requirement of training, a requirement of education, or both.
(2) If the violation was the result of gross negligence, the penalty shall be a civil penalty of one thousand dollars ($1,000), a requirement of training, a requirement of education, or a combination of the three.
(3) If the violation was the result of willful or wanton negligence or intentional conduct, the penalty shall be a civil penalty of two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500), a requirement of training, and a requirement of education. (2013-407, s. 2.)
Last modified: March 23, 2014