Legal Memorandum: Retirement of Long-Lived Assets in KS

Issue: Legal Obligations for the Retirement of Long-Lived Assets for Public Utilities in Kansas.

Area of Law: Environmental Law
Keywords: Retirement of Long-Lived Assets; Legal Obligations; Public utilities
Jurisdiction: Kansas
Cited Cases: None
Cited Statutes: Kan. Stat. § 66-1,157a (2006); Section 58-2271; 49 C.F.R. Part 192; 49 C.F.R. 192.379 (2003), § 192.703(c), § 192.727; Leavenworth, Kan., Code § 114-211 (2004); Topeka, Kan., Code § 130-699 (2005); Lenexa, Kan., Code § 4-6-I-10 (2006)
Date: 12/01/2006

Chapter 66 of the Kansas Statutes governs public utilities in Kansas.  Gas pipeline safety is administered in conjunction with the state’s adoption of the federal pipeline safety act to which it has added other minor provisions.  Section 66-1,157a mandates that a public utility retains full responsibility for the maintenance of all its pipelines conveying gas from a gas main to the outside wall of residential premises.  Kan. Stat. § 66-1,157a (2006).  The use of broad terms to define the obligations appears to hold a utility responsible for maintaining even those pipelines it no longer uses to the extent that safety concerns require it.  See id.  The same chapter also covers overhead power lines; however, retirement or abandonment of the lines used to transmit service is not specifically discussed.  Within the remaining Kansas statutes, only Chapter 58 of the Real Property Statutes discusses abandonment of any sort by utilities.  Section 58-2271 provides that the pipeline’s easements may be considered to have been abandoned following the removal of a pipeline that is not replaced or the failure to place a pipeline within ten years of the grant of the easement.  Id. § 58-2271.

The Kansas Corporation Commission, which regulates public utilities, has adopted 49 C.F.R. Part 192, Pipeline Transportation of Natural and Other Gas, dealing with pipeline safety.  That body of law, together with some Kansas-specific additions, constitutes the obligations of utilities with respect to operation of pipelines.  These regulations, found on the agency’s website at  http://www.kcc.state.ks.us/pipeline/pipeline_safety_regs.pdf, together with the Utility […]

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