Legal Memorandum: Retirement of Long-lived Assets in CO

Issue: What are the legal obligations for the retirement of long-lived assets for public utilities?

Area of Law: Environmental Law
Keywords: Retirement of long-lived assets; Retirement; Public utilities
Jurisdiction: Colorado
Cited Cases: None
Cited Statutes: 4 Colo. Code Regs. §§ 723-3-3103, -4-4103 (2006); Colo. Rev. Stat. § 9-1.5-107; Colo., Arvada, Code § 78-310 (2007); Thornton, Code § 2-280 (2007); Greeley, Colo., Code §§ 18.56.020, .120 (2007); Westminster, Code § 16-4-45, 16-5-45 (2006); Denver, Colo., Code § 10-60 (2007)
Date: 11/01/2007

Colorado regulations address applications by utilities to abandon or discontinue a facility.  When a utility, other than a telecommunications services provider, proposes to abandon or discontinue the use of any facility without an equivalent replacement, it must file with the Commission an application containing a complete explanation of the proposed act and a written notice to each of the utility’s affected customers.  4 Colo. Code Regs. §§ 723-3-3103, -4-4103 (2006).  The regulations do not generally address other obligations arising out of a facility’s abandonment.  However, effective August 3, 2007, at least ten days before an excavator begins to remove an abandoned or unused underground gas transmission pipeline that is not located under a public road, street, alley, or right-of-way, the excavator must notify each owner and occupant of the real property on which the underground facility is located.  Colo. Rev. Stat. § 9-1.5-107 (LexisNexis 2007).

The local codes of approximately a dozen Colorado cities with populations greater than 50,000 were reviewed.  The Arvada code requires any right-of-way permittee that intends to discontinue use of any facilities within the public right-of-way to notify the Director of Public Works in writing of its intent.  After 30 days from the notice date, the permittee must remove and dispose of the facilities within six months.  At the city’s discretion, the permittee may abandon the facilities in place and convey full title and ownership of them to the city. Arvada, Colo., Code § 78-310 (2007).  The Thornton municipal code contains a similar provision regarding abandoned […]

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