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Please see Addendum to this Agenda
South Dakota Public Utilities Commission Meeting
Tuesday, March 9, 1999; 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 March 8, 1999. Please keep in mind that a limited number of telephone lines are available. Every effort should be made for parties in the same city to be on the same line when calling in.
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. Election Of A Chairperson and Vice-Chairperson Of The Commission. (General Counsel: Rolayne Wiest.)
South Dakota Codified Law 49-1-8 states in part that, "The members of the Commission shall elect a chairperson by majority vote and prescribe his duties." Traditionally, the three Commissioners have elected a Chairperson and a Vice-Chairperson every two years. The person thus elected the Chairperson has customarily functioned as the chief executive officer of the Commission. SDCL 49-1-12 requires that, "Every vote and official action of the Public Utilities Commission shall be entered of record and its proceedings shall be public upon the request of either party or any person interested." Accordingly, the determination of the Commission's leadership structure shall be made at this public meeting.
TODAY, how shall the Commission provide for its executive leadership?
1. Approval Of The Minutes Of The Commission Meeting Held On February 17, 1999. (Staff: Shirleen Fugitt.)
1. Status Report On Consumer Utility Inquiries And Complaints Recently Received By The Commission. (Consumer Affairs: Leni Healy.)
The Commission has received 382 consumer contacts during 1999. 151 contacts have been received since the February 17, 1999, Commission meeting.
TELECOMMUNICATIONS: 130 of the contacts involved telecommunication issues. 35 contacts involved the unauthorized switching of long distance service; 15 contacts involved unauthorized charging for services; 13 contacts concerned billing for higher rates than promised; 10 contacts concerned telemarketing; 8 contacts involved poor service; 6 contacts concerned billing issues; and the remaining issues involved access codes, blocking, call forwarding, calling cards, cellular service, disconnection, double billing, equal access, installation, internet, land development fees, outages, pay phones, portability charges, promotions, rates, refund, repairs, sales tax, wants service, and won't disconnect.
ELECTRICITY: 15 of the contacts involved electricity issues. 8 of the contacts involved disconnection; 3 contacts concerned high rates; 2 contacts involved billing; and the remaining issues were account transfer and energy assistance.
NATURAL GAS: 6 contacts involving natural gas were reported. Those issues involved gas rates, high bills, late fees, payment arrangements, rate increase, and relocation of pipe.
A total of 208 complaints have been resolved informally during 1999.
2. TC98-179 IN THE MATTER OF THE COMPLAINT FILED BY BARRY AND DAWN AUSTIN, WHITE OWL, SOUTH DAKOTA, AGAINST GOLDEN WEST TELECOMMUNICATIONS COOPERATIVE, INC. REGARDING DISCRIMATORY INSTALLATION FEES. (Staff Attorney: Karen Cremer. Consumer Representative: Leni Healy.)
On September 23, 1998, the Commission received a complaint by Barry and Dawn Austin against Golden West Telecommunications Cooperative, Inc. The Complainants allege that Golden West Telecommunications Cooperative, Inc. discriminates against mobile home owners in their line extension policy. The Complainants seek relief from such a policy. On October 15, 1998, the Commission found probable cause to go forward with a hearing. A hearing in the matter was held on January 12, 1999, in Pierre, SD.
TODAY, what is the Commission's decision?
1. EL99-001 IN THE MATTER OF THE FILING BY BLACK HILLS POWER AND LIGHT COMPANY FOR APPROVAL OF NEW GENERAL SERVICE LARGE - OPTIONAL COMBINED ACCOUNT BILLING RATE SCHEDULE. (Staff Engineer: Martin Bettmann. Staff Attorney: Camron Hoseck.)
On January 14, 1999, Black Hills Power and Light Company (BHP&L) filed an optional General Service Large (Combined Account Billing) rate tariff. BHP&L proposes to offer this optional billing to single customers in South Dakota who have multiple accounts at multiple service locations that are currently billed on BHP&L's General Service Large rate tariff. Initially, BHP&L will combine the customer's energy use, reactive energy use, and peak demand for each service and calculate the monthly electric bill on the General Service Large rate using the combined capacity and energy use totals. Metering equipment will be installed within 5 years, upon agreement between BHP&L and the customer, which will allow combined accounts to be billed on a coincident demand and billing basis upon certain requirements being met by the customer. Customers using this rate will be required to sign a new contract with BHP&L which address a potentially deregulated market.
TODAY, shall the Commission approve the proposed tariff?
2. EL99-003 IN THE MATTER OF THE JOINT REQUEST OF OTTER TAIL POWER COMPANY AND SIOUX VALLEY SOUTHWESTERN ELECTRIC COOPERATIVE FOR THE TRANSFER OF RIGHTS AND PROPERTY PURSUANT TO SDCL 49-34A-55. (Staff Engineer: Martin Bettmann. Staff Attorney: Karen Cremer.)
On February 19, 1999, Sioux Valley - Southwestern Electric Cooperative (SVSW), Colman, South Dakota and Ottertail Power Company (OTP), Fergus Falls, Minnesota, filed for approval by the Commission a Joint Petition for the transfer of rights and properties from OTP to SVSW.
TODAY, shall the Commission approve the joint request for the transfer of rights and property?
1. NG98-012 IN THE MATTER OF THE APPLICATION OF MONTANA-DAKOTA UTILITIES CO. FOR APPROVAL OF REVISIONS TO ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, RATE 64. (Staff Analyst: Dave Jacobson. Staff Attorney: Karen Cremer.)
On December 7, 1998, the Commission received an application by Montana-Dakota Utilities Co. for approval of Revisions to Rate 64 reflecting a new agreement executed November 30, 1998. Ellsworth Air Force base has installed a propane-air peaking system and is converting their firm natural gas service requirements to interruptible service. The revised tariff will reflect the new service agreement rates and conditions.
TODAY, shall the Commission approve the application?
1. TC98-194 IN THE MATTER OF THE COMPLAINT FILED BY BASEC.NET, HURON, SOUTH DAKOTA, AGAINST U S WEST COMMUNICATIONS AND FIRSTEL, INC. REGARDING BILLING ISSUES. (Consumer Representative: Leni Healy. Staff Attorney: Karen Cremer.)
On October 26, 1998, the Commission received a Complaint by Marvie Tschetter of Basec.Net against U S WEST Communications, Inc. and FirsTel, Inc. The Complainant purchased an existing business and contacted U S WEST to continue customer access through T-1 lines. U S WEST informed the Complainant that Basec.Net could not take over payment of the lines unless the previous owner's debt was paid in full. Basec.Net decided to move the equipment and obtain services through FirsTel. After obtaining the services, Basec.Net was informed by U S WEST that they would be charged for installation/construction fees, the old billings of the previous owner, and additional charges for monthly service until other options were available. Neither U S WEST nor FirsTel disclosed these costs prior to providing service. FirsTel offered a plan with minimal installation fees but could not offer the service for 15-20 days which would not allow Basec.Net's customers access to their services. The Complainant seeks the following relief: "1) Require U S WEST to inform promptly of facilities issues. 2) Some sort of financial compensation for loss of revenue." The Commission ordered a finding of probable cause and set the hearing for this matter on March 31-April 1, 1999. On March 1, 1999, U S WEST filed a motion to amend U S WEST's answer to cross claim of FirsTel, Inc.
TODAY, shall the Commission grant the request from U S WEST to amend answer to cross claim of FirsTel, Inc.?
2. TC99-012 IN THE MATTER OF THE APPLICATION OF ATLANTIC TELEPHONE COMPANY FOR A CERTIFICATE OF AUTHORITY TO PROVIDE TELECOMMUNICATIONS SERVICES IN SOUTH DAKOTA. (Staff Analyst: Harlan Best. Staff Attorney: Camron Hoseck.)
On February 2, 1999, the Commission received an application from Atlantic Telephone Company, Inc. for a Certificate of Authority to Provide Telecommunications Services in South Dakota. Atlantic Telephone Company, Inc. (Atlantic) is a reseller which intends to offer 1+ and 101XXXX direct outbound dialing, 800/888 Toll-Free inbound dialing, and travel card service on a statewide basis. Atlantic intends to market services primarily to small to mid-sized businesses and residential customers.
TODAY, shall the Commission grant a Certificate of Authority to Atlantic Telephone Company?
3. TC99-013 IN THE MATTER OF THE APPLICATION OF TRI-M COMMUNICATIONS, INC. FOR A CERTIFICATE OF AUTHORITY TO PROVIDE TELECOMMUNICATIONS SERVICES IN SOUTH DAKOTA. (Staff Analyst: Michele Farris. Staff Attorney: Camron Hoseck.)
On February 3, 1999, the Commission received an application from TRI-M Communications, Inc. d/b/a TMC Communications for a Certificate of Authority to Provide Telecommunications Services in South Dakota. TRI-M Communications, Inc. d/b/a TMC Communications (TMC) proposes to provide intrastate long distance telecommunications service, including debit cards, over resold transmission facilities. TMC will also provide South Dakota customers with service to foreign countries.
TODAY, shall the Commission grant a Certificate of Authority to TRI-M Communications, Inc?
Commissioner Pam Nelson was appointed to a one-year term as Vice Chair of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) Ad Hoc Committee on Consumer Affairs.
The Committee's purpose is to strengthen consumer protection and education. According to Commissioner Nelson, the illicit practices of telephone slamming and cramming are problems that every state shares and she believes South Dakota consumers will benefit by her involvement on the national level. "By working on a national level, not only may we find solutions to our state's problems quicker, but we might actually prevent problems from reaching our borders," she said.
The PUC recently released television commercials on how consumers can protect themselves against telephone slamming and cramming. The commercials were originally produced by the Florida Public Service Commission and then modified to fit South Dakota. "Our state will benefit from these educational commercials without having to pay the high cost of production because of our cooperative efforts on the Committee," said Nelson.
Nelson explained how people can protect themselves from shady phone practices: "The best advice I can give consumers right now is to watch your utility bills very closely. If you are caring for elderly parents or grandparents, be sure to monitor their bills also. If any problems are found, like unauthorized charges or incorrect rates, call the PUC's consumer hotline immediately at 1-800-332-1782."
1. An Ad Hoc Commission meeting is scheduled for March 3, 1999, at 4:00pm in room 468 of the State Capitol.
2. A hearing in docket TC99-005 (Union Sale of Stock) is scheduled for March 10, 1999, at 1:30pm, in Hartford, SD, 108 N Main Ave.
3. A hearing in Docket TC98-187 (USWC catalog updates) is scheduled for March 16, 1999, at 9:00am in Room 412 of the State Capitol.
4. A hearing in Docket TC98-194 (Basec.Net) is scheduled for March 31-April 1, 1999, at 8:30am in Room 412 of the State Capitol, Pierre, SD.
5. Commissioner Burg will be attending a GRI meeting on April 6, 1999.
6. A hearing in docket TC98-148 (Sioux Falls Cable) is scheduled for April 8-9, 1999, at 9:00am, in Room 412 of the State Capitol, Pierre, SD.
7. Commissioners and staff will be attending the ROC meeting in Phoenix on April 11-13, 1999.
8. Hearings in dockets TC98-192 and TC98-196 (McLeod complaints) are scheduled for April 15, 1999, at 9:00 a.m., in Rapid City, SD, at the School Administration Building.
9. A hearing in docket NG98-011 (MidAmerican Rate Case) is scheduled for April 19-20, 1999, in Room 412 of the State Capitol, Pierre, SD.
10. The next regularly scheduled Commission meeting will be held Thursday, March 25, 1999, at 10:00 a.m. in Room 464 of the State Capitol Building.
Sue Cichos, Deputy Executive Director
March 2, 1999