(1) No utility shall sell, assign, or transfer its certificate of authorization, facilities or any portion thereof, or majority organizational control without determination and approval of the commission that the proposed sale, assignment, or transfer is in the public interest and that the buyer, assignee, or transferee will fulfill the commitments, obligations, and representations of the utility. However, a sale, assignment, or transfer of its certificate of authorization, facilities or any portion thereof, or majority organizational control may occur prior to commission approval if the contract for sale, assignment, or transfer is made contingent upon commission approval.
(2) The commission may impose a penalty pursuant to s. 367.161 when a transfer occurs prior to approval by the commission. The transferor remains liable for any outstanding regulatory assessment fees, fines, or refunds of the utility. (3) An application for proposed sale, assignment, or transfer shall be accompanied by a fee as provided by s. 367.145. No fee is required to be paid by a governmental authority that is the buyer, assignee, or transferee. (4) An application shall be disposed of as provided in s. 367.045, except that:
(a) The sale of facilities, in whole or part, to a governmental authority shall be approved as a matter of right; however, the governmental authority shall, prior to taking any official action, obtain from the utility or commission with respect to the facilities to be sold the most recent available income and expense statement, balance sheet, and statement of rate base for regulatory purposes and contributions-in-aid-of-construction. Any request for rate relief pending before the commission at the time of sale is deemed to have been withdrawn. Interim rates, if previously approved by the commission, must be discontinued, and any money collected pursuant to interim rate relief must be refunded to the customers of the utility with interest.
(b) When paragraph (a) does not apply, the commission shall amend the certificate of authorization as necessary to reflect the change resulting from the sale, assignment, or transfer.
(5) The commission by order may establish the rate base for a utility or its facilities or property when the commission approves a sale, assignment, or transfer thereof, except for any sale, assignment, or transfer to a governmental authority.
(6) Any person, company, or organization that obtains ownership or control over any system, or part thereof, through foreclosure of a mortgage or other encumbrance, shall continue service without interruption and may not remove or dismantle any portion of the system previously dedicated to public use which would impair the ability to provide service, without the express approval of the commission. This provision may be enforced by an injunction issued by a court of competent jurisdiction.