62-118. Abandonment and reduction of service.

(a) Upon finding that public convenience and necessity are no longer served, or that there is no reasonable probability of a public utility realizing sufficient revenue from a service to meet its expenses, the Commission shall have power, after petition and notice, to authorize by order any public utility to abandon or reduce such service. Upon request from any party having an interest in said utility service, the Commission shall hold a public hearing on such petition, and may on its own motion hold a public hearing on such petition. Provided, however, that abandonment or reduction of service of motor carriers shall not be subject to this section, but shall be authorized only under the provisions of G.S. 62-262(k) and G.S. 62-262.2.

(b) If any person or corporation furnishing water or sewer utility service under this Chapter shall abandon such service without the prior consent of the Commission, and the Commission subsequently finds that such abandonment of service causes an emergency to exist, the Commission may, unless the owner or operator of the affected system consents, apply in accordance with G.S. 1A-1, Rule 65, to a superior court judge who has jurisdiction pursuant to G.S. 7A-47.1 or 7A-48 in the district or set of districts as defined in G.S. 7A-41.1 in which the person or corporation so operates, for an order restricting the lands, facilities and rights-of-way used in furnishing said water or sewer utility service to continued use in furnishing said service during the period of the emergency. An emergency is defined herein as the imminent danger of losing adequate water or sewer utility service or the actual loss thereof. The court shall have jurisdiction to restrict the lands, facilities, and rights-of-way to continued use in furnishing said water or sewer utility service by appropriate order restraining their being placed to other use, or restraining their being prevented from continued use in furnishing said water or sewer utility service, by any person, corporation, or their representatives. The court may, in its discretion, appoint an emergency operator to assure the continued operation of such water or sewer utility service. The court shall have jurisdiction to require that reasonable compensation be paid to the owner, operator or other party entitled thereto for the use of any lands, facilities, and rights-of-way which are so restricted to continued use for furnishing water or sewer utility service during the period of the emergency, and it may require the emergency operator of said lands, facilities, and rights-of-way to post bond in an amount required by the court. In no event shall such compensation, for each month awarded, exceed the net average monthly income of the utility for the 12-month period immediately preceding the order restricting use.

(c) Whenever the Commission, upon complaint or investigation upon its own motion, finds that the facilities being used to furnish water or sewer utility service are inadequate to such an extent that an emergency (as defined in G.S. 62-118(b) above) exists, and further finds that there is no reasonable probability of the owner or operator of such utility obtaining the capital necessary to improve or replace the facilities from sources other than the customers, the Commission shall have the power, after notice and hearing, to authorize by order that such service be abandoned or reduced to those customers who are unwilling or unable to advance their fair share of the capital necessary for such improvements. The amount of capital to be advanced by each customer shall be subject to approval by the Commission, and shall be advanced under such conditions as will enable each customer to retain a proprietary interest in the system to the extent of the capital so advanced. The remedy prescribed in this subsection is in addition to other remedies prescribed by law. (1933, c. 307, s. 32; 1963, c. 1165, s. 1; 1971, c. 552, s. 1; 1973, c. 1393; 1985, c. 676, s. 14; 1987 (Reg. Sess., 1988), c. 1037, s. 93; 1989 (Reg. Sess., 1990), c. 1024, s. 15.)