§24-3-7. Permit to abandon service; certificate; hearing upon intervention by consumer advocate; alternative service.

(a) No railroad or other public utility shall abandon all or any portion of its service to the public or the operation of any of its lines which would affect the service it is rendering the public unless and until there shall first have been filed with the public service commission of this state an application for a permit to abandon service and obtained from the commission an order stating that the present and future public convenience and necessity permits such abandonment.

(b) The consumer advocate's office shall be notified of all notices to abandon rail service. Within five (5) days of the receipt of such notice the consumer advocate shall notify the West Virginia public port authority of such proposed abandonment. The public port authority shall advise the consumer advocate as to whether such abandonment is in the public interest or if such rail line or service is an integral part of the intermodal transportation system within West Virginia. If the public port authority deems such abandonment to be not in the public interest, then the consumer advocate shall intervene to block such abandonment before all appropriate state and federal agencies or courts.

(c) The public service commissioner, to the extent permitted by federal law, shall promulgate rules and regulations to govern the abandonment of rail lines and rail service, including, but not limited to, the providing of a hearing for the presentation of evidence in cases where the consumer advocate seeks intervention pursuant to subsection (b).

(d) In the event the commission determines that an application to abandon gas service or any part thereof is in the public interest and required by the present and future public convenience and necessity, it shall include in its order, as a condition of releasing any such utility from its public service obligation to provide gas service, a provision requiring the utility, prior to discontinuing service, to pay the cost reasonably necessary to convert each customer to an alternate fuel source.