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PUBLIC UTILITIES COMMISSION MEETING
Tuesday, April 15, 1997; 10:00 A.M.
Budget Host Inn, Conference Room
640 North Euclid, Pierre, South Dakota
NOTE: If you wish to join this meeting by conference call, please contact the Commission at 605-773- 3201 by 5:00 p.m., Monday, April 14, 1997.
NOTE: Notice is further given to persons with disabilities that this Commission meeting is being held in a physically accessible place. If you have special needs, please notify the Commission and we will make all necessary arrangements.
AGENDA OF THE COMMISSION MEETING
1. Approval Of The Minutes Of The Commission Meeting of April 1, 1997. (Staff: Shirleen Fugitt.)Consumer Affairs
1. Status Report On Consumer Utility Inquiries And Complaints Recently Received By The Commission. (Consumer Representative: Leni Healy.)
The Commission has received 420 consumer contacts during 1997. 154 contacts were received since the April 1, 1997, Commission meeting.
TELECOMMUNICATIONS: 120 of the contacts involved telecommunication issues. 36 contacts involved billing disputes; 35 contacts concerned unauthorized switching of long distance providers; 15 contacts were classified as "other"; 9 contacts dealt with service issues; 6 consumers complained that their rates were too high; 5 contacts involved sex line calls; 4 contacts involved telemarketers; 3 contacts concerned payment plans; 2 contacts involved deposits; 2 contacts involved disconnections; 2 contacts involved annoyance calls; and 1 contact involved a penalty fee.
ELECTRICITY: 24 complaints involving electricity were reported. 7 contacts involved disconnection; 7 contacts related to competition issues; 4 contacts were classified as "other"; 2 contacts involved billing issues; and rude employees, meter problems, indebted household and payment plans each had one contact.
GAS: 10 complaints involving natural gas were reported. 3 contacts involved disconnections; 3 contacts were classified as "other"; and billing, poor service, payment plans, and connection each had one contact.
A total of 279 complaints were informally resolved during 1997.Electricity
1. EL97-002 IN THE MATTER OF THE FILING BY BLACK HILLS POWER AND LIGHT COMPANY FOR APPROVAL OF ITS 1996 ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT ANNUAL REPORT AND ITS 1997 ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT PLAN. (Staff Analyst: Bob Knadle. Staff Attorney: Karen Cremer.)
On February 12, 1997, the Commission received a filing by Black Hills Power and Light Company (BHP&L) of its 1996 Economic Development Annual Report and on March 12, 1997, the Commission received BHP&L's 1997 Economic Development Plan. The report and plan are filed pursuant to the settlement for BHP&L's rate case under Docket No. EL95-003.
TODAY, shall the Commission approve BHP&L's 1996 report and 1997 plan?Electricity and Natural Gas
1. IN THE MATTER OF NORTHWESTERN PUBLIC SERVICE COMPANY'S '97 BLIZZARD BEATER PROGRAM. (Staff Analyst: Bob Knadle.)
On January 14, 1997, Northwestern Public Service (NWPS) announced to the Commission that it would be implementing a payment deferral program for its customers. The voluntary program referred to as the '97 Blizzard Beater allowed customers to defer one-third of their gas and electric bills for January, February and March. No interest was to be charged on the deferred amount and customers were to repay the deferred amount in three equal payments during the months of May, June and July. Upon implementation of the program, NWPS discovered a computer error which caused some customers to be overbilled. This error was corrected immediately and customers were offered a refund. The company also issued a news release describing this incident.
TODAY, Staff has an update on the correction of this error.Natural Gas
1. NG96-017 IN THE MATTER OF THE COMPLAINT FILED BY PAM NATURAL GAS AGAINST MIDAMERICAN ENERGY COMPANY REGARDING PGA FACTORS. (Staff Analyst: Dave Jacobson and Steve Wegman. Staff Attorney: Camron Hoseck.)
On July 8, 1996, the Commission received a complaint against MidAmerican Energy Company (MidAmerican) from PAM Natural Gas (PNG) regarding PGA factors. Also on July 8, 1996, PNG filed a request with the Commission to receive all underlying workpapers of MidAmerican's June PGA filing which were submitted as confidential. On July 30, 1996, a regularly scheduled meeting, the Commission deferred action in this matter at the request of the parties. On November 1, 1996, a regularly scheduled meeting, the Commission considered the complaint. The Commission voted to defer action in this matter in order to allow the parties to review MidAmerican's proposal. [Commissioner Schoenfelder dissenting.] PNG had also requested that they be allowed to receive MidAmerican's workpapers that are filed under confidential seal with the Commission. On December 31, 1996, a duly noticed meeting, the Commission voted to not find probable cause, to dismiss the complaint and to close the complaint portion of the docket. On February 11, 1997, the Commission granted interventions to Northwestern Public Service and Montana-Dakota Utilities Co. and further denied a Motion for Continuance filed by MidAmerican. A hearing was held in this matter on February 12, 1997, and the parties have submitted their initial and reply briefs.
TODAY, shall the Commission grant MidAmerican's request to trea workpapers underlying the PGA as confidential?
On March 27, 1997, the Commission received a filing by Northwestern Public Service (NWPS) for approval of its Gas Tariff which was changed to comply with the approved standardized business practices developed by the Gas Industry Standard Board (GISB). The proposed effective date of the revisions was April 1, 1997.
TODAY, shall the Commission approve the revised Gas Tariff filed by NWPS with an effective date of April 1, 1997?
3. NG97-005 IN THE MATTER OF THE COMPLAINT FILED BY TODD SCHAUFENBUEL, HURON, SD, AGAINST NORTHWESTERN PUBLIC SERVICE REGARDING HEAT BILLS. (Consumer Representative: Leni Healy. Staff Attorney: Camron Hoseck.)
On April 2, 1997, the Commission received a complaint filed by Todd Schaufenbuel (Complainant) from Huron, South Dakota, against Northwestern Public Service (Respondent). Complainant indicates he had unusually high natural gas usage during the months of December and January. He wrote that he contacted Respondent who conducted an on-site inspection but found nothing wrong. He further wrote that Respondent replaced his gas meter which resulted in a reduction of gas usage. Complainant believes the gas meter was faulty and indicates he is willing to pay Respondent the amount of $150.00 for each of the months of December and January.
TODAY, does the Commission find probable cause of an unlawful or unreasonable act, rate, practice or omission to go forward with this complaint and serve it upon Respondent?Telecommunications
1. TC94-122 IN THE MATTER OF THE SALE OF CERTAIN TELEPHONE EXCHANGES BY U S WEST COMMUNICATIONS, INC. TO CERTAIN TELECOMMUNICATIONS COMPANIES IN SOUTH DAKOTA. (Staff Attorney: Camron Hoseck.)
The Circuit Court of the State of South Dakota issued its order of remand on March 6, 1997, in this matter. On April 2, 1997, in response to the Circuit Court's decision and remand order, Staff counsel filed a Motion on Remand with the Commission to consider the remand on the record and to "set a procedural schedule for the submission of proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law by the parties consistent with the Circuit Court's decision and order."
TODAY, shall the Commission grant the Motion on Remand filed by Staff?
2. TC96-156 IN THE MATTER OF THE APPLICATION OF SPRINT COMMUNICATIONS COMPANY L.P. FOR AN AMENDED CERTIFICATE OF AUTHORITY TO PROVIDE LOCAL EXCHANGE ACCESS TELECOMMUNICATIONS SERVICES IN SOUTH DAKOTA. (Staff Analyst: Harlan Best. Staff Attorney: Karen Cremer.)
On August 23, 1996, the Commission received an application by Sprint Communications Company L.P. (Sprint) to amend its Certificate of Authority to provide local exchange and exchange access services in South Dakota. According to its application, "Sprint will initially provide service by reselling the services of the incumbent local exchange companies and will deploy its own facilities as economic factors, including customer demand, dictate and allow...Sprint, when it becomes facilities-based, will also offer switched and special access services to interexchange carriers to permit them to originate and terminate interstate calls to customers on Sprint's network, and special access services to connect interexchange carriers to their customers or to each other." Interventions were granted to the South Dakota Independent Telephone Coalition, Inc. (SDITC), Dakota Cooperative Telecommunications, Inc. (DCT) and U S WEST Communications, Inc. (U S WEST). The Commission scheduled a hearing in this matter for December 12, 1996. On October 30, 1996, U S WEST withdrew its intervention. Pursuant to a request from Sprint, the Commission postponed the hearing indefinitely. On February 28, 1997, the Commission received a Stipulation and Agreement between SDITC and Sprint whereupon SDITC withdrew as an intervening party. On March 3, 1997, DCT submitted its withdrawal of intervention in this matter. There are no intervenors remaining as parties to this docket.
TODAY, shall the Commission grant Sprint an amended Certificate of Authority so it may provide local exchange services in South Dakota?
On January 15, 1997, the Commission received an application by U S WEST Communications, Inc. (U S WEST) to introduce Smart Public Access Line (Smart PAL) on a flat and message rated monthly recurring and non-recurring basis to its Exchange and Network Services Tariff. According to the application: "The introduction of Smart PAL is intended to meet the requirements in the FCC Order 96-388 (Paragraphs 146 and 147) as modified in FCC Order 96-439 (Paragraph 163) to provision a coin line for use by all Payphone Service Providers who wish to place a "dumb" payphone set on the line. The coin line has traditionally been used only by U S WEST Public Services. In addition, this filing proposed withdrawing language in the tariff which regulates the operational characteristics of Payphone Service Provider pay telephones. The effective date requested for this filing is April 15, 1997."No interventions were filed.
TODAY, shall the Commission approve U S WEST's proposed revisions to its Exchange and Network Services Tariff?
On January 18, 1996, the Commission Order Approving Stipulation and Addendum in Docket TC94-121 became effective. No parties to the action appealed the Order. The Stipulation and Agreement and Addendum allowed for a rate increase of $2.45 for residential basic local exchange service and a price ceiling of $19.35 and an increase of $2.75 for business basic local exchange service with a price ceiling of $38.40. As a part of its Order, the Commission directed Staff to review U S WEST's service quality performance at the end of 12 months following the effective date of the increase. Based upon the Commission's approval of USWC's performance, a proposed second increase may be implemented at the end of 18 months from the first increase. On February 11, 1997, at a regularly scheduled meeting, Commission Staff recommended that the Commission open a docket to review U S WEST's service quality performance. The Commission unanimously voted to open a docket to review U S WEST's service quality performance. An intervention deadline of March 7, 1997, was established. On February 25, 1997, and March 4, 1997, MCI Telecommunications Corporation (MCI) and AT&T Communications of the Midwest, Inc. (AT&T), respectively, filed timely petitions to intervene.
TODAY, shall the Commission grant MCI and AT&T intervention in this docket?
On February 20, 1997, the Commission received a filing by U S WEST Communications, Inc. (U S WEST) for approval to place the loop portion of the Centrex 21 Analog Station Line in its Exchange and Network Services Tariff. Centrex 21 is an offering targeted to small and medium sized businesses which incorporates value added voice features and functions in a standard package. U S WEST proposed to implement this service on March 19, 1997. No interventions were filed.
TODAY, shall the Commission approve U S WEST's proposed revisions to its Exchange and Network Services Tariff?
6. TC97-019 IN THE MATTER OF THE APPLICATION OF MFS INTELENET OF SOUTH DAKOTA, INC. FOR A CERTIFICATE OF AUTHORITY TO PROVIDE TELECOMMUNICATIONS SERVICES IN SOUTH DAKOTA. (Staff Analyst: Tammi Stangohr. Staff Attorney: Karen Cremer.)
On February 25, 1997, the Commission received an application by MFS Intelenet of South Dakota, Inc. (MFSI-SD) to amend its Certificate of Authority to provide local exchange services within the state of South Dakota. According to the application: "MFSI-SD will provide service to customers through: (i) the resale of services and facilities provided by USWC, other authorized providers and entrant local exchange carriers, including affiliates; (ii) through use of facilities MFSI-SD has or will deploy; or (iii) through some combination thereof. MFSI-SD soon will enter into negotiations with USWC, for the provision of wholesale services, interconnection, access to unbundled network elements, and interim number portability, subject to Sections 251 and 271 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, to enable MFSI-SD to begin operations." No interventions were filed.
TODAY, shall the Commission grant an amended Certificate of Authority to MFSI-SD so it may provide local exchange services in South Dakota?
7. TC97-026 IN THE MATTER OF THE APPLICATION OF EAST PLAINS TELECOM, INC. FOR A CERTIFICATE OF AUTHORITY TO PROVIDE TELECOMMUNICATIONS SERVICES IN SOUTH DAKOTA. (Staff Analyst: Dave Jacobson. Staff Attorney: Karen Cremer.)
On March 13, 1997, the Commission received an application by East Plains Telecom, Inc. (East Plains) for a Certificate of Authority to operate as a telecommunications company within the state of South Dakota. East Plains intends to provide local exchange telephone service within the exchange boundaries of the Alcester and Hudson exchanges. On May 2, 1996, the Commission approved the sale of the Alcester exchange from U S WEST Communications, Inc. (U S WEST) to East Plains. On October 24, 1996, the Commission approved the sale of the Hudson exchange from U S WEST to East Plains. No interventions were filed.
TODAY, shall the Commission grant East Plains a Certificate of Authority to provide local exchange services?
On March 21, 1997, the Commission received a filing by McLeodUSA Telecommunications Services, Inc. (McLeodUSA) for approval of its tariff reflecting local exchange service offerings in the Aberdeen, Pierre-Fort Pierre, Rapid City, Sioux Falls and North Sioux City exchanges in South Dakota. The tariff includes general rules and regulations, description of services offered, and rates and charges. An intervention deadline of April 11, 1997, was established. On March 31, 1997, PAMCOMM filed a request to intervene.
TODAY, shall the Commission grant intervention to PAMCOMM and any other party that may timely file? And, how shall the Commission proceed?
9. IN THE MATTER OF THE PRACTICE OF LONG DISTANCE RESELLERS TO OPERATE WITHIN THE STATE OF SOUTH DAKOTA WITHOUT AN IDENTIFYING PIC NUMBER. (Consumer Representative: Leni Healy.)
All Certified Long Distance resellers are not required to obtain a Primary Interstate Carrier (PIC) number with which to identify them as a customer's long distance carrier. The Commission has fielded a number of concerns regarding the difficulties local exchange carriers and customers were experiencing when trying to identify a customer's long distance carrier. Staff has also found it difficult to obtain such information.
TODAY, Staff would like the Commission and interested parties to discuss this issue to identify possible solutions.Miscellaneous
1. IN THE MATTER OF THE PROPOSED AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE COMMISSION AND WASHINGTON STATE UNIVERSITY FOR A STUDY OF MUNICIPAL WATER-BASED HEAT PUMP HEATING AND/OR COOLING SYSTEMS. (Staff Analyst: Steve Wegman. Staff Attorney: Camron Hoseck.)
Commission policy analyst Steve Wegman, on behalf of the Commission, has been offered a grant from the Department of Energy and administered by Washington State University to study municipal water- based heat pump heating and/or cooling systems. The maximum amount of the grant is $23,500.00 with the grant period running from March 3, 1997, through December 31, 1997. A regularly scheduled meeting of April 1, 1997, the Commission considered this matter and directed Staff to make certain changes to the proposed contract. Staff has revised the contract in accordance with the Commission's directive.
TODAY, shall the Commission approve Staff's request that it enter into a contract with Washington State University for the receipt and performance of the grant?Announcements
1. The next Commission meeting is scheduled for 10:00 a.m., May 6, 1997, in Room LCR-1 of the State Capitol Building, Pierre, South Dakota.
William Bullard, Jr.,
Thursday, April 10, 1997
PLEASE NOTE: There is an Addendum to this agenda.