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PUBLIC UTILITIES COMMISSION MEETING
Tuesday, March 10, 1998; 10:00 A.M.
State Capitol Building, Room 412
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. on Monday, March 9, 1998.
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 Meetings Held On February 18, 1998, and February 24, 1998. (Staff: Shirleen Fugitt.)
1. Status Report On Consumer Utility Inquiries And Complaints Recently Received By The Commission. (Consumer Representative: Leni Healy.)
The Commission has received 302 consumer contacts during 1998. 92 contacts have been received since the February 24, 1998, Commission meeting.
TELECOMMUNICATIONS: 77 of the contacts involved telecommunication issues. 28 contacts involved the unauthorized switching of long distance service; 8 contacts concerning the unauthorized billing for services; 6 billing issues were reported; 5 contacts involved poor service; 5 contacts reported billing at the wrong rate; 2 contacts involved disconnections; 2 contacts involved nuisance calls; 2 contacts concerned sex line billings; 2 contacts did not get service when promised; and the remaining contacts involved number intercepting, 3-way calling, 900#s, ads, contracts, cut cable, deposit, directory information, double billing, local "slamming", misdirected calls, "other", rude employee, taxes, telemarketing, territory, and won't disconnect.
ELECTRICITY: 9 contacts involving electricity were reported. 2 contacts involved disconnections, 2 contacts involved high bills; and the remaining contacts involved energy assistance, excess construction charges, landlord/tenant disputes, master meter and "other".
NATURAL GAS: 6 contacts involving natural gas were reported. 3 contacts concerned high billings; 2 contacts concerned other billing issues; and 1 poor service contact was made.
A total of 152 complaints have been resolved informally during 1998.
1. EL98-003 IN THE MATTER OF THE COMPLAINT FILED BY KEVIN J. MCKEE, DEADWOOD, SOUTH DAKOTA, AGAINST BLACK HILLS POWER & LIGHT COMPANY REGARDING RECEIVING ELECTRICAL SERVICE. (Consumer Representative: Leni Healy. Staff Attorney: Camron Hoseck.)
On February 25, 1998, Kevin J. McKee, Deadwood, South Dakota, filed a complaint against Black Hills Power & Light Company regarding receiving electrical service. The complaint states: "My property lies within BHPL territory, he nearest power is in e Electric territory. I've talked to both power companies and a territorial trade is unlikely. I've received estimates from both companies and to receive power from BHPL would cost a minimum of $11,880.00 and that is if I can obtain a right of way over a neighbor's property and if it were all overhead. On the other hand e Electric is approximately 1/4 mile from my property. It would only cost $3,960.00 to receive power from them...." Mr. McKee is requesting to have the property released by BHPL and to be served by e Electric.
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 the Respondent?
1. NG97-017 IN THE MATTER OF THE COMPLAINT FILED BY DARRELL SEEMAN, SIOUX FALLS, SD, AGAINST MIDAMERICAN ENERGY COMPANY REGARDING TRANSFERRING UNPAID BALANCES TO HIS ACCOUNT. (Consumer Representative: Leni Healy. Staff Attorney: Karen Cremer.)
On October 10, 1997, the Commission received a complaint from Darrell Seeman, Sioux Falls, SD, regarding transferring unpaid balances to his account. The complaint states: "MidAmerican Energy transferred gas bills over on two rental properties owned by myself and others to myself at my business address then transferred the bills to my home account, 1808 Edgewood Road." "On October 9th, 1997, the gas was shut off at Edgewood Road." The Complainant would like the gas turned back on and to not let the utility transfer bills to my home account. A hearing was held in this matter on January 30, 1998.
TODAY, what is the Commission's decision?
2. NG97-021 IN THE MATTER OF THE APPLICATION FOR AN ORDER ESTABLISHING A NATURAL GAS LOCAL DISTRIBUTION UTILITY, AND TO ESTABLISH INITIAL NATURAL GAS TRANSPORTATION RATES FOR NORTHERN STATES POWER COMPANY. (Staff Analyst: Bob Knadle. Staff Attorney: Karen Cremer.)
On December 16, 1997, Northern States Power Company filed an application for an order establishing a natural gas local distribution utility, and to establish initial natural gas transportation rates. The initial rate will allow NSP-SD to serve the new Hutchinson Technology, Inc. (HTI) facility in the Sioux Empire Development Park Number 5 in eastern Sioux Falls, SD through a new distribution lateral pipeline. HTI had contacted NSP-SD and requested the proposed service. The proposed tariff, rate schedule and form of service agreement would establish NSP-SD as a regulated utility in the State of South Dakota, subject to Commission jurisdiction. The proposed maximum rate is a volumetric rate per Mcf with a per month fixed customer service charge. At present, only HTI is affected by the proposed rate and tariff. The HTI plant is expected to be in commercial operation in February of 1998. In its January 28, 1998, Order, the Commission allowed NSP to flow gas through its pipeline, subject to refund, in order to accommodate HTI. At the January 12, 1998, Commission meeting, Commissioner Schoenfelder asked for clarification as to whether the Commission has jurisdiction to regulate NSP-SD as a gas utility. Intervention has been granted to MidAmerican Energy. An intervention request was also received from PAM Natural Gas prior to the February 9 deadline.
TODAY, does the Commission find that the Company is a natural gas utility and regulated by the Commission? Also, shall the Commission approve the intervention of PAM Natural Gas?
3. NG97-022 IN THE MATTER OF THE FILING BY MIDAMERICAN ENERGY COMPANY FOR APPROVAL OF ITS 1997 ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT REPORT AND ITS 1998 ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT BUDGET. (Staff Analyst: Steve Wegman. Staff Attorney: Camron Hoseck.)
On December 30, 1997, MidAmerican Energy Company filed its 1997 Economic Development Report and its 1998 Economic Development Budget. The filing states: "During 1997, our Company continued its commitment to economic development by working directly with and on behalf of communities in our South Dakota service territory." "During 1997, the "specs" building at Yankton was sold and will be utilized to weld, assemble, test and paint hydraulic cylinders. MidAmerican was a partner with the City of Yankton in the construction and marketing of this building. The new company is expected to create 30-50 new jobs within the community over the next two years." "Also noteworthy this past year is the formation of the new Lincoln County Economic Development Association (LCEDA). The support of MidAmerican Energy Company and the other Lincoln County entities will further enhance and unite economic development effort in this area."
TODAY, shall the Commission approve MidAmerican Energy Company's 1997 Economic Development Report and the 1998 Economic Development Budget?
4. NG98-001 IN THE MATTER OF THE APPLICATION OF THE RAPID CITY GAS TRANSPORTATION COMPANY, LLC FOR A PERMIT TO CONSTRUCT A 6.625 INCH O.D. TRANSMISSION PIPELINE FACILITY IN PENNINGTON COUNTY, SOUTH DAKOTA. (Staff Engineer: Martin Bettmann. Staff Attorney: Karen Cremer.)
On February 24, 1998, Rapid City Gas Transportation Company, LLC, applied for a permit to construct a 6.625 inch O.D. transmission pipeline and associated facilities. The Company proposed to construct, operate, and maintain the transmission line. The purpose of the facility is to supply natural gas to entities including, but not limited to, the Merillat Company, Rapid City, South Dakota. Merillat Company is a manufacturer of wood cabinets at a plant in Rapid City, South Dakota. "Merillat wants a direct connection from its pipeline transporter to its factory. It appears that there will be little demand in the area, other than Merillat, since the area is already served by a distribution system." The estimated construction cost of this proposed transmission pipeline and associated facilities is approximately $1,000,000.00.
TODAY, how shall the Commission proceed? And, shall the Commission assess a filing fee not to exceed $8,000.00?
1. TC97-169 IN THE MATTER OF THE COMPLAINT FILED BY AVERY AND DIXIE THOMPSON, RELIANCE, SD, AGAINST U S WEST COMMUNICATIONS, INC. FOR DELAYED SERVICE. (Consumer Representative: Leni Healy. Staff Attorney: Camron Hoseck.)
On October 24, 1997, the Commission received a complaint filed by Avery and Dixie Thompson, (Complainants), Reliance, SD, against U S WEST Communications, Inc. (Respondent) regarding delays in the provisioning of new services. According to the complaint, Complainants contacted Respondent in April of 1997, requesting phone service at a new location. Complainants state they were informed by Respondent that they should call the Respondent two weeks prior to the date they wanted service. Complainants indicate that their service at the new residence was needed on September 12, 1997. Complainants contacted Respondent on September 12, 1997, and were informed that Respondent did not have adequate facilities at the Complainants' new location. On or about September 23, 1997, Complainants were told by Respondent that services would not be provisioned until late October, 1997. Respondent provisioned services to Complainants in late October he complaint does not indicate whether those services are working as of the date of the complaint. Complainants are asking that Respondent provision the services requested; that Respondent reimburse Complainants for certain expenses relating to the delayed service; and that Respondent compensate Complainants for the inconvenience caused by the delay in provisioning service. A hearing in this matter was held on January 14, 1998, in Chamberlain.
TODAY, what is the Commission's decision?
2. TC97-198 IN THE MATTER OF THE APPLICATION OF TELEHUB NETWORK SERVICES CORPORATION FOR A CERTIFICATE OF AUTHORITY TO PROVIDE TELECOMMUNICATIONS SERVICES IN SOUTH DAKOTA. (Staff Analyst: Dave Jacobson. Staff Attorney: Karen Cremer.)
On December 22, 1997, TeleHub Network Services Corporation filed for a Certificate of Authority to operate as a telecommunications company within the state of South Dakota. "Applicant seeks statewide authority to offer inbound, outbound, conference, directory assistance, calling card, prepaid calling card, and private line services to presubscribed business customers and residential customers in the State of South Dakota. Applicant does not and will not offer alternative operator services."
TODAY, shall the Commission grant a Certificate Of Authority to TeleHub Network Services Corporation?
3. TC98-002 IN THE MATTER OF THE APPLICATION OF BUSINESS CALLING PLAN, INC. FOR A CERTIFICATE OF AUTHORITY TO PROVIDE TELECOMMUNICATIONS SERVICES IN SOUTH DAKOTA. (Staff Analyst: Tammi Stangohr. Staff Attorney: Camron Hoseck.)
On January 8, 1998, Business Calling Plan, Inc. filed for a Certificate of Authority to operate as a telecommunications company within the state of South Dakota. "Applicant offers outbound, switched access ... services designed primarily for small business customers."
TODAY, shall the Commission grant a Certificate Of Authority to Business Calling Plan, Inc.?
4. TC98-004 IN THE MATTER OF THE APPLICATION OF ACS SYSTEMS, INC. FOR A CERTIFICATE OF AUTHORITY TO PROVIDE TELECOMMUNICATIONS SERVICES IN SOUTH DAKOTA. (Staff Analyst: Tammi Stangohr. Staff Attorney: Camron Hoseck.)
On January 14, 1998, ACS Systems, Inc. filed for a Certificate of Authority to operate as a telecommunications company within the state of South Dakota. "Applicant is a switch-based reseller which intends to offer 1+ direct dialing, 800 toll free, travel card and prepaid calling card service through the resale of telephone services provided by facilities-based interexchange carriers."
TODAY, shall the Commission grant a Certificate Of Authority to ACS Systems, Inc.?
5. TC98-054 IN THE MATTER OF THE APPLICATION OF MVX COMMUNICATIONS, LLC FOR A CERTIFICATE OF AUTHORITY TO PROVIDE TELECOMMUNICATIONS SERVICES IN SOUTH DAKOTA. (Staff Analyst: Tammi Stangohr. Staff Attorney: Camron Hoseck.)
On February 13, 1998, MVX Communications, LLC, filed an application for a Certificate of Authority to operate as a telecommunications company within the state of South Dakota. "Applicant is a switch-based reseller which intends to offer 1+ direct dialing, 800 toll free, travel card and prepaid calling card service through the resale of telephone services provided by facilities-based interexchange carriers."
TODAY, shall the Commission grant a Certificate of Authority to MVX Communications, LLC?
6. IN THE MATTER OF EXCESSIVE CONSUMER COMPLAINTS AGAINST BASIC LONG DISTANCE FOR QUESTIONABLE MARKETING PRACTICES AND UNAUTHORIZED SWITCHING OF LONG DISTANCE SERVICE. (Consumer Affairs: Leni Healy.)
At the December 18, 1997, Commission meeting, staff reported a concern over the increasing number of consumer complaints dealing with the company, Utility Analysts, doing business as Basic Long Distance. The Commission directed staff to obtain documentation from the company and provide an update at a future Commission meeting. The information was obtained and an update was provided at the February 3rd Commission meeting which included a report that this company was scheduled for a show cause hearing for nonpayment of gross receipts taxes on that afternoon. Payment of the gross receipts taxes was made shortly before the meeting.
TODAY, Staff has an update.
Commissioners and staff will be attending the NARUC Winter Meetings on February 28-March 4, 1998, in Washington DC.
The Commission Consumer Outreach Booth will be at the Sioux Falls Home Show March 5-8, 1998, in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
The Commission Consumer Outreach Booth will be at the Black Hills Home Show March 27-29, 1998, in Rapid City, South Dakota.
The next regularly scheduled Commission meeting will be held Thursday, March 26, 1998, at 10:00 a.m. in Room 412 of the State Capitol Building.
March 3, 1998