BISMARCK — The North Dakota Public Service Commission unanimously approved fines against a Fargo contractor for hitting underground lines while digging at a construction site.

The commission levied the $7,100 fine against KPH Inc. after the company damaged several underground lines, including a gas main line, during summer construction in 2018. The company is a first-time offender of the state's One Call policy, which requires companies to call 8-1-1 at least 48 hours before beginning an excavation project.

Since it has no history of similar violations, KPH will ultimately only have to pay $6,100 to the commission if it does not violate the policy again in the next five years.

KPH has already paid thousands of dollars in damages to Xcel Energy, who owned the damaged lines and filed the initial complaints a year ago, commission chairman Brian Kroshus said. Representatives of KPH could not be reached in time for publication.

Kroshus said the company did not take necessary precautions by hand-digging in areas known to have underground lines and instead used a backhoe. Kroshus said the company had worked well with commission staff, and the fine was just a punitive measure to ensure the same mistakes would not be made again.

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The commission levied $10,000 in fines against Fargo-based Master Construction Co. in November for similar violations. Over the past year, the commission has ordered more than $50,000 in penalties for One-Call violations statewide, according to Stacy Eberl, public outreach specialist for the commission. The fines ranged from $500 to $6,500.