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South Dakota Public Utilities Commission Meeting
Tuesday, April 1, 2003; 9:30 a.m.
Capital Building, Room 412
Pierre, South Dakota
MINUTES OF THE COMMISSION MEETING
Chairman Bob Sahr called the meeting to order. Also present were Vice Chairman Gary Hanson; Commissioner Jim Burg; Executive Director Pamela Bonrud; Deputy Executive Director Heather Forney; Commission Advisor Greg Rislov; Commission Attorney Rolayne Ailts Wiest; Commission Counsel John Smith; Staff Attorney Kelly Frazier; Staff Attorney Karen Cremer; Staff Analysts Dave Jacobson, Harlan Best, Bonnie Bjork, Keith Senger, Jim Mehlhaff, Steve Wegman and Michele Farris; and Administrative Secretary Tina Douglas.
Also present were David Gerdes, representing Montana-Dakota Utilities Co., Xcel Energy, and MCIWorldCom; Bob Miller, South Dakota Electric Utility Companies; and Jim Wilcox, Xcel Energy.
Joining the meeting by telephone were Anne Hanson, Xcel Energy; Jeff Carmon and Tim Goodwin, Qwest Corporation; Mary Lohnes, Midcontinent Communications; Tom Welk, Boyce, Greenfield, Pashby & Welk, LLP, representing Qwest Corporation; and Mark Van Den Hoek, Hard Drive Central.
Commissioner Gary Hanson moved to approve the minutes of the AD HOC meeting held on March 14, 2003, and the Commission Meeting held on March 18, 2003. Commissioner Burg seconded and Chairman Sahr concurred. Motion passed 3-0.
1. STATUS REPORT ON CONSUMER UTILITY INQUIRIES AND COMPLAINTS RECENTLY RECEIVED BY THE COMMISSION. (Staff Analyst: James Mehlhaff.)
Mr. Mehlhaff reported that the Commission has received a total of 440 consumer contacts during 2003. Since the last report was prepared for the March 18, 2003, Commission meeting 98 contacts have been received; 62 of the contacts involve telecommunication issues; 5 contacts involving electricity issues; 5 contacts involving natural gas issues; 3 contacts involving gas & electric issues; 17 contacts involving cellular issues; and 4 miscellaneous contacts involving services not regulated by the PUC. In 2003, 295 of the 440 complaints registered have been resolved informally. At this time, 1848 of the 1918 complaints from 2002 have been resolved.
2. In the Matter of Dismissing Dockets CT02-037, CT02-041, CT02-043 AND CT03-005
CT02-037 In the Matter of the Complaint filed by Len Scherr on behalf of Sammy's Restaurant, Aberdeen, South Dakota, against McLeodUSA Telecommunications Services, Inc. Regarding a Contract Dispute. (Staff Analyst: Jim Mehlhaff, Staff Attorney: Karen Cremer)
CT02-041 In the Matter of the Complaint filed by Ann Eberhard on Behalf of Terrace Motel, Pierre, SD, against McLeodUSA Telecommunications Services, Inc. Regarding Contract Dispute, Billing, Poor Customer Service, Failure to Block Long Distance and Other Features as Requested. (Staff Analyst: Jim Mehlhaff, Staff Attorney: Karen Cremer)
CT02-043 In the Matter of a Complaint Filed by Guy and Linda Varud, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, against Qwest Communications, Inc. and McLeodUSA Telecommunications Services, Inc. Regarding Wiring Problems. (Staff analyst: James Mehlhaff, Staff Attorney: Kelly Frazier)
CT03-005 In the Matter of the Complaint filed by Veronica Woodruff, Mitchell, South Dakota, against MCIWorldCom Regarding Unauthorized Switching of Services. (Staff analyst: James Mehlhaff, Staff Attorney: Kelly Frazier)
Mr. Frazier stated that the dismissal in CT02-043 was requested by the Complainants. The Complainants were weighing their options on whether or not they wanted to pursue this complaint in circuit court. They requested that they be allowed to wait until July 2003 to make their decision. Mr. Frazier stated that he did not believe it would be appropriate to leave the docket open for over a year for the Complainants to make a decision. Thus, the Complainants decided to have their complaint dismissed at this time with the option to refile the complaint in July 2003.
Chairman Sahr moved to dismiss the complaints and close dockets CT02-037, CT02-041, CT02-043 AND CT03-005. Commissioner Burg seconded and Commissioner Hanson concurred. Motion passed 3-0.
3. CT03-003 In the Matter of the Complaint filed by Mark Van Den Hoek on behalf of Hard Drive Central, Mitchell, South Dakota, against Ionex Communications North, Inc. Regarding Quality of Service Issue. (Staff analyst: James Mehlhaff, Staff Attorney: Kelly Frazier)
Mr. Frazier stated that Ionex's representative has a family illness and requested that the Commission defer this complaint until April 15, 2003. Chairman Sahr asked Mark Van Den Hoek if it was a problem to defer the complaint until April 15, 2003. Mr. Van Den Hoek indicated that it was not a problem. Action was deferred.
1. EL03-005 In the Matter of the Petition of Northern States Power Company d/b/a Xcel Energy for Approval to Include Renewable Energy Development Fund Costs in the Electric Fuel Clause Adjustment. (Staff Analyst: David Jacobson, Staff Attorney: Karen Cremer)
Jim Wilcox, Xcel Energy, explained the Petition by Xcel Energy for approval to include Renewable Development Fund costs in its electric Fuel Adjustment Clause. Xcel Energy operates the Prairie Island Nuclear Generating Plant at Red Wing, Minnesota which uses "dry casks" to store spent fuel from the plant. In 1994, the Minnesota Legislature passed an Act which requires Xcel Energy to transfer $500,000 annually, for each cask, into a Renewable Development Fund. The Renewable Development Fund promotes the advancement of new renewable energy sources. Xcel's petition states that inclusion of these Fund payments in its fuel clause would be efficient and is consistent with the purpose of the Automatic Adjustment Clause Statute SDCL 49-34A-25. Mr. Wilcox, David Gerdes and Anne Hanson responded to questions put forth by the Commission and staff as to whether these costs met the statutory criteria for adjustment under SDCL 49-34A-25. The Commission and staff requested further information from Xcel Energy. Action was deferred.
Commissioner Burg had to leave the meeting at this time.
2. EL03-010 In the Matter of the Joint Request for an Electric Service Rights Exception between Xcel Energy and Central Electric Cooperative, Inc. (Staff Analyst: Michele Farris, Staff Attorney: Karen Cremer)
Jim Wilcox, explained that Xcel Energy and Central Electric Cooperative filed a "Joint Request for an Electric Service Territory Boundary Modification." This agreement seeks an exception to the existing service territory near Artesian, SD. The area to be transferred from Central Electric to Xcel Energy is described as the telephone "pedestal" and its associated facilities located just east of 411th Avenue and on the south side of 233rd Street (SD Highway 34) approximately 3 miles west of Artesian, South Dakota, residing in the NW 1/4 of Section 12 of Union Township T106N R60W in Sanborn County, South Dakota, together with a line to connect with Xcel's system. Mr. Wilcox stated that Xcel has agreed to do it and Central Electric Cooperative has agreed to allow Xcel to do. Ms. Farris stated the proposal was in the public interest and recommended approval.
Commissioner Hanson moved to approve the service rights exception between Xcel Energy and Central Electric Cooperative, Inc. in EL03-010. Chairman Sahr seconded. Motion passed 2-0.
Montana-Dakota Utilities Co. filed an application 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. By Order dated January 28, 2003, the Commission suspended MDU's proposed rates for 90 days beyond January 30, 2003. Mr. Jacobson recommend suspending MDU's proposed rates for an additional 60 days.
Chairman Sahr moved to suspend MDU's proposed rates for an additional 60 days in NG02- 011. Commissioner Hanson seconded. Motion passed 2-0.
1. TC01-163 In the Matter of the Application of BAK Communications, LLC for a Certificate of Authority To Provide Interexchange Telecommunications Services in South Dakota. (Staff Analyst: Michele Farris, Staff Attorney: Kelly Frazier)
Mr. Frazier requested that this item be placed on the agenda because he received notice that BAK Communications, LLC's bond was going to be cancelled. Since then, BAK Communications, LLC has posted a new bond and no action should be taken.
Ms. Farris stated that 1-800-Reconex is seeking a waiver from computing its own switched charges. The cost based rate determination process is a long and costly process that would not benefit Reconex or SD Consumers. Reconex has requested a waiver from the use of the formula in ARSD 20:10:27:12, so as to mirror the Qwest Corporation tariffed access rates. Reconex has adopted rates for local switching, local transport and carrier common line which are equivalent to those rates approved for Qwest in its tariff and the SGAT. Staff recommends the Commission grant Reconex's petition to be exempt from the company specific cost-based rates and the waiver from ARSD 20:10:27:12 requiring it to use the average of the cost companies for a period of three years and approve 1-800-RECONEX's Intrastate Switched Access Tariff.
Chairman Sahr moved to grant Reconex's request to be exempt from the company specific cost-based switched access rates and the waiver from ARSD 20:10:27:12 requiring it to use the average of the cost companies' excluding Qwest for a period of three years and to approve 1-800-RECONEX's Intrastate Switched Access Tariff in TC02-082. Commissioner Hanson seconded. Motion passed 2-0.
3. In the Matter of Approving an Amendment to an Agreement in TC03-054 and Approving an Agreement in TC03-055.
Mr. Frazier stated that in both agreements have been properly filed as interconnection agreements both of these involved wireless services. There have been no intervenors. Mr. Frazier recommended approval based upon there being no evidence that these are discriminatory or against the public interest.
Commissioner Hanson moved to approve the proposed Amendment in TC03-054 and the proposed Agreement in TC03-055. Chairman Sahr seconded. Motion passed 2-0.
1. EL03-011 In the Matter of the Request for an Electric Service Rights Exception between NorthWestern Energy and Codington-Clark Electric Cooperative, Inc. (Staff Analyst: Michele Farris, Staff Attorney: Kelly Frazier.)
Ms. Farris explained that when this docket was filed there was no indication in the docket that there was a necessity to expedite this proceeding. Ms. Farris spoke to the customer and he indicated that he was waiting for approval to start construction. The construction company is ready to go. The intervention date is April 4, 2003. The customer is located 3 miles West of the Town of Hazel in the SW 1/4 of Section 16, Township 115 North, Range 55 West, Hamlin County, SD. NorthWestern has an existing overhead power line approximately 1500 feet South of the customer along the South side of said Section 16. Codington-Clark's closest power line is approximately 2 miles to the North and East of the customer. Both parties believe this is the most efficient and economically way to provide service to this customer. Ms. Farris recommended that this service rights exception be granted. Mr. Frazier recommend an effective date of April 5, 2003, to allow the intervention period to expire.
Chairman Sahr moved to approve the service rights exception between NorthWestern Energy and Codington-Clark Electric Cooperative, Inc. with an effective date of April 5, 2003. Commissioner Hanson seconded. Motion passed 2-0.
1. TC03-041 In the Matter of the Application of Qwest LD Corp. d/b/a Qwest Long Distance for a Certificate of Authority to Provide Interexchange Telecommunications Services in South Dakota. (Staff Analyst: Michele Farris, Staff Attorney: Kelly Frazier.)
Ms. Farris explained that Qwest LD Corp (QLDC) d/b/a Qwest Long Distance had filed an application with the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission for a Certificate of Authority to provide interLATA/interexchange telecommunications services in South Dakota. The applicant proposes to be a resale interexchange carrier that will provide intrastate voice and data long-distance telecommunications services, operator services, directory assistance and 800 services throughout South Dakota. QLDC proposes offering these services in the State of South Dakota after it receives approval from the Federal Communications Commission for its Section 271 Application. Ms. Farris recommends approval of QLDC's Certificate of Authority for interexchange telecommunications services, subject to a continuous $25,000.00 surety bond. Chairman Sahr asked about approving the Certificate of Authority before Qwest's 271 application has been approved by FCC. Tim Goodwin, Qwest, stated that regardless of when the Commission's approval of the Certificate of Authority is made, Qwest will not engage in interLATA/interexchange services unless or until the FCC approves the 271 application.
Chairman Sahr moved to grant Qwest LD Corp d/b/a Qwest Long Distance's Certificate of Authority, subject to a continuous $25,000.00 surety bond.