(1) Except as provided in subsections (2) and (3) of this section, no jurisdictional utility or metropolitan utilities district proposing to extend or enlarge its natural gas service area or extend or enlarge its natural gas mains or natural gas services after July 14, 2006, shall undertake or pursue such extension or enlargement until the proposal has been submitted to the commission for its determination that the proposed extension or enlargement is in the public interest. Any proposal for extension or enlargement shall be filed with the commission, and the commission shall promptly make such application public in such manner as the commission deems appropriate. The commission shall schedule the matter for hearing and determination in the county where the extension or enlargement is proposed, and the matter shall be subject to the applicable procedures provided in the State Natural Gas Regulation Act and sections 75-112, 75-129, and 75-134 to 75-136. In making a determination whether a proposed extension or enlargement is in the public interest, the commission shall consider the factors set forth in sections 66-1860 and 66-1861. Ratepayers of the jurisdictional utility or the metropolitan utilities district shall have the right to appear and present testimony before the commission on any matter submitted to the commission under sections 66-1858 to 66-1864 and shall have such testimony considered by the commission in arriving at its determination.
(2) If any metropolitan utilities district proposes to extend or enlarge its system within the corporate boundaries of the city of the metropolitan class it serves or within the boundaries of the extraterritorial zoning jurisdiction of such city, the metropolitan utilities district may pursue such extension or enlargement without the need for commission approval or the requirement to file and request permission to pursue such extension or enlargement.
(3) If no person or entity has filed with the commission a protest alleging that the proposed extension or enlargement is not in the public interest within fifteen business days after the date upon which the application was made public, the enlargement or extension shall be conclusively presumed to be in the public interest and the jurisdictional utility or metropolitan utilities district may proceed with the extension or enlargement without further commission action.