Commission Minutes | previous page
South Dakota Ad Hoc Meeting
Wednesday, December 3, 2003 at 8:30 A.M.
Public Utilities Commission, Cactus Conference Room
Pierre, South Dakota
MINUTES OF THE COMMISSION MEETING
Chairman Bob Sahr called the meeting to order. Also present were Vice Chairman Gary Hanson; Executive Director Pamela Bonrud; Deputy Executive Director Heather Forney; Commission Advisor Greg Rislov; Commission Attorneys Rolayne Ailts Wiest and John Smith; Staff Attorneys Kelly Frazier and Karen Cremer; Staff Analysts Keith Senger, Steve Wegman, Michele Farris, Dave Jacobson, Bob Knadle, and Sue Schaefer; and Administrative Secretary Tina Douglas.
Also present were Susan Barla and Yvonne Taylor, SDML; and Bob Mercer, Associated Press.
Joining the meeting by telephone were Commissioner Jim Burg; Talbot Wieczorek, Gunderson, Paul Goodsell & Nelson, representing MDIA; John Wylie, Electric Utility Week and Electric Power Daily; Alan Dietrich, Warren Lotsberg, and Jeff Decker, NorthWestern Energy; Larry Nelson, Frieberg, Zimmer, Duncan & Nelson; Dave Blair, East River Electric; Al Lundy, KYNT Radio; Brenda Kleinjan, South Dakota Rural Electric; Wayne Fox, Montana-Dakota Utilities Co.; and Bernadeen Brutlag and Ron Spangler, OtterTail Power Co.
In re NorthWestern Corporation, Case No. 03-12872 (CGC), United States Bankruptcy Court, District of Delaware (Commission Attorney: John Smith)
Chairman Sahr stated that on September 14, 2003, NorthWestern Corporation (NorthWestern) filed a voluntary petition for relief under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware. NorthWestern provides electric generation, transmission and distribution services and natural gas distribution services to customers in East Central South Dakota, as a utility regulated by the Commission. On November 16, 2003, MDU Resources Group, Inc. (MDU), Basin Electric Cooperative (Basin) and some of Basin's member cooperatives announced the formation of an alliance to evaluate potential utility opportunities presented by NorthWestern=s bankruptcy filing. Chairman Sahr stated that the bankruptcy has the potential to affect the gas and electric utility system in the state and could have a negative impact on South Dakota consumers including utility rates. Chairman Sahr also stated that it is important for the Commission to be involved in the case in order to protect the interest of South Dakota ratepayers and to minimize any potential negative impacts on ratepayers. Commissioners Hanson and Burg expressed similar concerns about the possible negative impact the bankruptcy would have on South Dakota consumers.
Chairman Sahr moved that the Commission should intervene in the NorthWestern bankruptcy case. Chairman Sahr also moved that the Public Utilities Commission approve hiring bankruptcy counsel subject to review and approval by the Attorney General. Commissioner Hanson seconded and Commissioner Burg concurred. Motion passed 3-0.