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South Dakota Public Utilities Commission Meeting
Tuesday, July 1, 2003 at 9:30 A.M.
State Capitol 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 Attorneys Rolayne Ailts Wiest and John Smith; Staff Attorneys Karen Cremer and Kelly Frazier; Staff Analysts David Jacobson, Bonnie Bjork, Keith Senger, Jim Mehlhaff, Steve Wegman, Harlan Best, and Michele Farris; Harry Rosenthal, Intern; and Administrative Secretary Tina Douglas.
Also present were David Gerdes, May, Adam, Gerdes & Thompson, representing Midcontinent Communications and Xcel Energy; Jim Wilcox, Xcel Energy; and Bob Miller, South Dakota Electric Utility Companies.
Joining the meeting by telephone were Bill Heaston, PrairieWave Telecommunications, Inc.; Larry Toll, Jeff Carmen, Tim Goodwin, and Lynn Stang, Qwest Corporation; Linn Evans, Black Hills Corporation; Mary Lohnes and Tom Simmons, Midcontinent Communications; Tom Welk, Boyce, GreenField, Pashby & Welk LLP, representing Qwest Corporation; Al Krug, Xcel Energy; Marlene Bennett and JoAnne Hohrman, Martin Group; Darla Rogers, Riter, Rogers, Wattier & Brown, representing LECA, Northern Valley Communications, LLC, and Midstate Telecom Inc.; Ben Dickens, representing LECA; John Burke, Barker, Wilson, Reynolds & Burke, representing S&S Communications; Mary Sisak, representing LECA; and Mark Benton, Midstate Communications, Inc; and Matthew McCaulley, McCaulley Law Office, representing PrairieWave Telecommunications, Inc.
1. Status Report on Consumer Utility Inquiries and Complaints Received by the Commission. (Consumer Affairs: Jim Mehlhaff.)
Mr. Mehlhaff reported that the Commission had received a total of 1244 consumer contacts during 2003. Since the last report was prepared for the June 17, 2003, Commission meeting, 187 of these contacts had been received; 150 contacts involved telecommunications services; 22 contacts involved electricity issues; 7 contacts involved natural gas issues; and 8 contacts involved miscellaneous services not regulated by the PUC. In 2003, 826 of the 1244 complaints registered have been resolved informally. At this time, 1853 of the 1918 complaints from 2002 have been resolved.
2. CT03-008 In the Matter of the Complaint filed by Gene Bunge on behalf of Canyon Shadows Water Company, Inc., Rapid City, South Dakota, against Qwest Corporation Regarding Termination of Switch Function Resulting in Damage. (Staff Analyst: Jim Mehlhaff, Staff Attorney: Kelly Frazier)
Mr. Mehlhaff stated that the matter has been resolved and both parties agreed to dismiss and close the docket.
Chairman Sahr moved that the Complaint in CT03-008 be dismissed and closed. Commissioner Burg seconded and Commissioner Hanson concurred. Motion passed 3-0.
Mr. Wilcox, Xcel Energy, stated that Xcel Energy (Xcel) is requesting the Commission renew Xcel's Customer Buyback Program. This program will typically be used on the hottest days of the year when the spot prices are at a higher rate. Last year the electricity market was low and no customers took advantage of this program. Mr. Wilcox does expect that customers will take advantage of this program when the spot prices are higher. Xcel has been offering this program for several years but has not had much activity yet. The original program tariff was approved for a year, with biannual approval thereafter. Xcel would like the Commission to permanently authorize the program just like all of its other tariffs. Mr. Senger stated that Xcel Energy has been filing its annual report, and there has been no change to the program over the last several years. Mr. Senger recommends approval to renew the Customer Buyback Program.
Commissioner Burg moved that renewal of the Customer Buyback Program be approved permanently with annual reporting. Commissioner Hanson seconded and Chairman Sahr concurred. Motion passed 3-0.
Mr. Jacobson stated that this is an annual review by Montana-Dakota Utilities Co. for its cogeneration rate. Mr. Jacobson recommended approval of the tariff revision.
Commissioner Hanson moved for approval of the tariff revision in EL03-019. Chairman Sahr seconded and Commissioner Burg concurred. Motion passed 3-0.
Mr. Wilcox, Xcel Energy, stated that Xcel Energy (Xcel) is seeking approval to continue flowing the costs and effects of its hedging transactions for years 2002 and 2003 through its fuel clause pursuant to the terms and conditions ordered in Docket EL99-021. Xcel filed the biannual report for approval but Xcel neglected to obtain approval to continue inclusion of its hedging activity in its fuel clause for the year 2002 and now requests that approval and also approval for 2003. Xcel is also requesting that the reporting requirement be revised to now be annual instead of biannual. Mr. Jacobson recommended putting the relevant conditions in the Order approving the application including annual calendar year reporting and referencing an updated commodity risk management policy.
Chairman Sahr moved for approval of Xcel's request for inclusion of financial incentives in its fuel clause along with staff's recommendations of provisions stated above for the year 2002 and 2003. Commissioner Hanson seconded and Commissioner Burg concurred. Motion passed 3-0.
Ms. Farris stated that on May 21, 2003, Otter Tail Power Company filed a tariff revision for Commission approval. Otter Tail had entered into a Municipal Service Agreement with the City of Lake City, SD which was approved in EL02-024. The new agreement does not contain any rates, terms, and or conditions that would be considered a deviation from Otter Tail Power Company's tariff. Otter Tail requested that the City of Lake City be removed from Otter Tail Power Company's Summary List of Contracts with Deviations. Ms. Farris recommended approval of the tariff revision.
Commissioner Burg moved for approval of the tariff revision in EL03-017. Commissioner Hanson seconded and Chairman Sahr concurred. Motion passed 3-0.
Lynn Stang, Qwest Corporation, stated that Qwest had submitted informally a draft of a Memorandum of Understanding and a draft Depository Agreement to staff. The purpose was to implement the provision of the PAP which indicates that it will set up two accounts. One account would be a special fund the other account would be a discretionary fund. The PAP is a two-tiered, self-executing remedy plan. Qwest shall make Tier 1 payments to the CLEC and Tier 2 payments to a Fund administered by the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission (SDPUC). Payments shall be made one month following the due date of the performance measurement report for the month for which payment is being made. Upon the execution of a Memorandum of Understanding with the SDPUC, a South Dakota Special Fund and a South Dakota Discretionary Fund will be created as separate interest bearing escrow accounts. The SDPUC may direct Qwest to deposit into the South Dakota Special Fund either 1) one-fifth of all Tier 1 payments that exceed the month one payment amounts in Table 2 and one-third of all Tier 2 payments, or 2) 50% of all Tier 2 payments. Qwest is required to deposit any other Tier 2 payments into the South Dakota Discretionary Fund. Ms. Wiest recommended that the Commission go with option 2, and that the Commission enter into a Memorandum of Understanding with Qwest but not necessarily the draft copy that was submitted by Qwest.
Chairman Sahr moved that the Commission accept Option 2 and instruct staff to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding with Qwest which Pamela Bonrud would sign on behalf of the Commission. Commissioner Hanson seconded and Commissioner Burg concurred. Motion passed 3-0.
Larry Toll, Qwest Corporation, stated that Qwest Corporation filed a switched access cost study in accordance with ARSD 20:10:27:07. Qwest Corporation is not asking for the Commission to change the switched access rate schedules at this time. Ms. Forney stated that the switched access rate would remain a current rate and recommended that the docket be closed.
Chairman Sahr moved that the docket be closed in TC02-085. Commissioner Hanson seconded and Commissioner Burg concurred. Motion passed 3-0.
Ben Dickens, Local Exchange Carriers Association (LECA), stated that LECA is asking that the revised switched access tariff go into effect starting July 1, 2003, subject to refund. John Burke, S&S Communications, stated he was not served with any type of notice regarding this docket. Mr. Dickens stated that LECA sent out notices to all of the IXCs in the state which would have included Mr. Burke's client. Ms. Cremer indicated that the refund would be with interest if the tariff would go into effect starting July 1, 2003. Chairman Sahr asked John Burke if he would be satisfied without being properly noticed since the refund would be with interest until the Commission rules on this tariff. Mr. Burke indicated he was agreeable to this.
Commissioner Burg moved that the Commission approve the switched access rate starting July 1, 2003, subject to refund with interest until this can be ruled on at a hearing. Commissioner Hanson seconded and Chairman Sahr concurred. Motion passed 3-0.
5. TC03-089 In the Matter of the Filing for Approval of an Agreement for Terms and Conditions for Interconnection, Unbundled Network Elements, Ancillary Services and Resale of Telecommunications Services between Qwest Corporation and iLOKA Inc. d/b/a Microtech.tel. (Staff Attorney: Kelly Frazier)
Mr. Frazier stated that the Agreement has been properly filed, has been properly executed and does not appear to contain discriminatory provisions, no comments were filed, and he recommended approval of the Agreement.
Chairman Sahr moved to approve the Agreement in TC03-089. Commissioner Hanson seconded and Commissioner Burg concurred. Motion passed 3-0.
Mr. Frazier stated that the Amendment has been properly filed, has been properly executed and does not appear to contain discriminatory provisions, no comments were filed, and he recommended approval of the Amendment.
Commissioner Hanson moved to approve the Amendment in TC03-090. Chairman Sahr seconded and Commissioner Burg concurred. Motion passed 3-0.
Mr. Welk, representing Qwest Corporation, indicated that no one has made an objection to Qwest's Motion to Reduce Time to Respond to Discovery. Mr. Welk indicated that he needed to add Midcontinent to the Motion to Compel, after discussing this matter with Mr. Gerdes. Chairman Sahr asked if anyone had an objection to Qwest's Motion to Reduce Time to Respond to Discovery. No one had an objection. Matthew McCaulley, PrairieWave Telecommunications, Inc, stated that the information that Qwest is asking for is confidential and are protected trade secrets as stated in its request for a Protective Order. Ms. Rogers, Northern Valley Communications, LLC and Midstate Telecom Inc., agreed with Matt McCaulley. Mr. Gerdes agreed with Matt McCaulley.
Chairman Sahr moved to approve Qwest's Motion to Reduce Time to Respond to Discovery in TC03-057. Commissioner Hanson seconded and Commissioner Burg concurred. Motion passed 3-0.
Chairman Sahr moved that action be deferred on Qwest's Motion to Compel Discovery. Commissioner Burg seconded and Commissioner Hanson concurred. Motion passed 3-0.
On June 24, 2003, Qwest filed a Motion to Compel Discovery and a Motion to Reduce Time to Respond to Discovery. On June 26, 2003, PrairieWave filed a Motion for a Protective Order from the discovery sought by Qwest in its Motion to Compel.
Chairman Sahr moved that action be deferred. Commissioner Burg seconded and Commissioner Hanson concurred. Motion passed 3-0.