Legal Memorandum: Retirement of Long-Lived Assets in ND

Issue: Legal Obligations for the Retirement of Long-Lived Assets for Public Utility Operators in North Dakota.

Area of Law: Administrative Law, Administrative Law & Regulation (Federal and State), Environmental Law
Keywords: Retirement or abandonment of long-lived assets; Public utility operators; Legal obligations
Jurisdiction: North Dakota
Cited Cases: None
Cited Statutes: N.D. Cent. Code § 49-04-05, § 49-23-05
Date: 11/01/2004

A general provision governing the duties of public utilities in North Dakota provides that a public utility may not “dispose of” its works or system necessary or useful in the performance of its duties to the public without the prior approval of the Public Service Commission.  N.D. Cent. Code § 49-04-05 (2004).  This approval requirement does not apply to the disposal of tangible property valued at less than $500,000.  Id.  Disposal is not defined, so it is unknown whether the term encompasses abandonment.

The only other provision of possible interest is found in North Dakota’s one-call statutes.  It provides that for purposes of fulfilling it notification and marking obligations prior to excavations a facility owner or other person may not “present or presume that an underground facility is abandoned, or treat an underground facility as abandoned, unless the facility has been verified as abandoned by reference to installation records or by testing.”  Id. § 49-23-05.


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