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CenterPoint Energy encourages increased safety awareness during National Safe Digging Month

HOUSTON - April 13, 2010 - CenterPoint Energy is partnering with the Common Ground Alliance to commemorate April as National Safe Digging Month which is dedicated to increasing awareness of safe digging practices.

Throughout the busy digging month of April, when the potential for underground utility damages increases, homeowners and contractors are reminded that one free call to 811 before digging can prevent injuries, property damage, service disruption and possibly costly fines for damaged infrastructure.

“Each year, more than 200,000 underground utility lines are struck in the United States and 37 percent of all U.S. digging damages result from not calling before digging,” said Joe Berry, manager of Damage Prevention for CenterPoint Energy. “The 811 hotline is a free service that will notify affected utilities of a person’s intent to dig. Within a few days, the utility companies will mark the approximate locations of the utility-owned lines with paint or flags.”

The depth of utility lines varies and there may be multiple utility lines in a common area. So, whether it’s a small project like planting trees or shrubs or hiring a professional for a special outdoor project, smart digging means calling 811 before each job.

Since the 811 “Call Before You Dig” campaign was created in 2004, there has been roughly a 40 percent reduction in excavation damages. For more information, visit www.call811.com.

CenterPoint Energy, Inc., headquartered in Houston, Texas, is a domestic energy delivery company that includes electric transmission & distribution, natural gas distribution, competitive natural gas sales and services, interstate pipelines, and field services operations. The company serves more than five million metered customers primarily in Arkansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Texas. Assets total nearly $20 billion. With about 8,800 employees, CenterPoint Energy and its predecessor companies have been in business for more than 135 years.  For more information, visit the Web site at www.CenterPointEnergy.com.