Legal Memorandum: Retirement of Utilities in CO

Issue: What are the legal obligations for a company upon the retirement of power plants, transmission lines, and gas pipelines used in Colorado?

Area of Law: Environmental Law
Keywords: Retirement of utilities; Legal Obligations; Power plants, transmission lines, and gas pipelines
Jurisdiction:  Colorado
Cited Cases: None
Cited Statutes: 4 Colo. Code Regs. §§ 723‑3‑3103, -4-4103 (2012); Colo. Rev. Stat. § 9-1.5-107 (2012); Id. § 38-30.7-105; Aurora, Colo., Code §§ 138-104, -110 (2012); § 138-117; Denver, Colo., Code § 10-60 (2012); § 10-62.7 (2012); Fort Collins, Colo., Code §§ 6-28 to -34 (2012); § 6-35 (2012); Lakewood, Colo., Mun. Code § 12.04.020 (2012); Pueblo, Colo., Code § 17-4-67 (2011); Id. § 17-4-72; Thornton, Colo., Code § 2-280 (2012); § 18-626, et seq.; Westminster, Colo., Code §§ 16-5-45, 16-6-45 (2012)
Date: 10/01/2012

Colorado Public Utilities Commission 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 (2012).  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 (2012).

With respect to wind energy easements, unless otherwise agreed between the surface estate owner and the wind energy developer, all easement interests acquired on or after July 1, 2012 for the purpose of producing wind energy revert to the surface estate owner if production of wind energy has ceased for a continuous 15-year period or if electricity generation has not commenced within 15 years after execution of the wind energy agreement.  Reversion of such an interest does not transfer any obligation to restore or reclaim the surface estate.  Id. § 38-30.7-105.

The local codes of Colorado’s ten most populous cities were reviewed to locate applicable ordinances.  Pursuant to the Aurora code, all electric utility lines and services […]

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