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South Dakota Public Utilities Commission Meeting
Tuesday, February 4, 2003; 8:30 A.M.
State Capitol Building, Public Utilities Conference Room
Pierre, South Dakota
MINUTES OF THE AD HOC MEETING
Chairman Bob Sahr called the meeting to order. Also present were Vice Chairman Gary Hanson; Commissioner Jim Burg; Executive Director Pamela Bonrud; Commission Counsel John Smith; Commission Attorney Rolayne Ailts Wiest; Staff Attorney Karen Cremer; Deputy Executive Director Heather Forney; Staff Analysts Harlan Best, Keith Senger, Bonnie Bjork, and David Jacobson; and Administrative Secretary Tina Douglas.
Also present was David Gerdes, May, Adam, Gerdes & Thompson representing both Montana Dakota Utilities and Midcontinent Communications.
Joining the meeting by telephone were Jeff Carmon, Colleen Sevold, Tim Goodwin, Mary Hobson, Don Poole, and Larry Toll, Qwest Corporation; Linden Evans, Black Hills FiberCom; Mary Lohnes, Midcontinent Communications; Janet Browne, AT&T; Tom Welk, Boyce, Greenfield, Pashby & Welk L.L.P; Joe Schuele, Martin Group.
An Application by Montana-Dakota Utilities Co. for approval to increase rates for natural gas service in its Black Hills service territory by $2,173,380, or 5.8% based on a 2003 projected test year. The proposed increase for a residential customer would average about $2.50 per month. The proposed rates may potentially affect about 40,800 natural gas customers in the Black Hills area of South Dakota. Mr. Jacobson explained the proposed contract for consulting services to the Commission. David Gerdes representing Montana-Dakota Utilities Co. had no comment.
Vice Chairman Hanson moved to approve the contract. Commissioner Burg seconded and Chairman Sahr concurred. Motion passed 3-0.
On October 25, 2001, Qwest Corporation filed with the Commission a Petition For Commission Recommendation That The Federal Communications Commission Grant Qwest Corporation Entry Into The In-Region InterLATA Market Under Section 271 Of The Telecommunications Act Of 1996. Specifically, Qwest Corporation requests that this Commission find, based upon the record presented, that Qwest Corporation has met the competitive checklist and other requirements of 47 U.S.C. Section 271, which prescribes the mechanism by which Qwest Corporation may be found eligible to provide in-region interLATA services and rely upon that finding to provide a favorable recommendation to the Federal Communications Commission. In support of its petition, Qwest Corporation submitted 25 affidavits, a revised Statement of Generally Available Terms, and 7 Reports submitted in the Seven-State Process.
Chairman Sahr moved that based on the Commission's first six orders, the Commission finds that Qwest has met the 14 point checklist. The Commission further finds that Qwest has met the conditions of Track A. As stated in its section 272 order, the Commission declines to make any finding on whether Qwest has complied with the section 272 requirements. With respect to the public interest issue, the Commission recognizes that Qwest has made numerous changes in conformance with the Commission's Public Interest Order. However, the Commission still has concerns about specific areas where Qwest did not comply with the Commission's order. Therefore, the Commission directs Qwest to make the following changes: (1) Qwest shall change its cap language to provide for a floor of $15,000,000.00. This means that the limit on liability would be 36% of the prior year's ARMIS net return, or $15,000,000.00, whichever is greater; (2) the Commission does not agree to Qwest's alternative language for section 16.1 and directs Qwest to make the changes as specified in the Public Interest Order; (3) the Commission finds that, after reviewing Qwest's explanation regarding section 15.2, the Commission does not object to Qwest's language for section 15.2; (4) Qwest stated that it would place the language back into section 11 regarding the Discretionary Fund but requested that section 18.104.22.168 be revised to say that the money in the Discretionary Fund shall be for, but not limited to, South Dakota telecommunications initiatives. The Commission finds that this language is acceptable; (5) with respect to the dispute resolution language, of the Commission continues to direct Qwest to insert the language as stated in the Public Interest Order. Upon the making of these changes, the Commission would then recommend to the FCC that it would be in the public interest to grant Qwest section 271 approval. The Commission further directs Qwest to file a revised QPAP on or before February 17, 2003. Vice Chairman Hanson seconded and Commissioner Burg concurred. Motion passed 3-0.