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South Dakota Public Utilities Commission Meeting
September 23, 2008, at 1:30 P.M.
Room 468, Capitol Building
Pierre, South Dakota
MINUTES OF THE COMMISSION MEETING
Chairman Gary Hanson called the meeting to order. Present were: Vice Chairman Steve Kolbeck; Commissioner Dustin Johnson; Executive Director Patty Van Gerpen; Commission Advisor Greg Rislov; Commission Attorneys John Smith and Rolayne Wiest; Staff Attorneys Karen Cremer and Kara Semmler; Staff Analysts Dave Jacobson, Bob Knadle, Nathan Solem, Jon Thurber and Terri LaBrie Baker; Consumer Affairs Supervisor Deb Gregg; and Administrative Secretary Demaris Axthelm.
Also present were: Dave Gerdes, May, Adam, Gerdes, & Thompson, representing Montana-Dakota Utilities; Scott Besmer, Montana-Dakota Utilities; Gordon Woods and Walter Woods, South Dakota Intrastate Pipeline; Jim Robbennolt, representing South Dakota Intrastate Pipeline; Margo Northrup, Riter, Rogers, Wattier & Northrup, representing Venture Communications Cooperative (Venture), Valley Telecommunications Cooperative Association, Inc. (Valley), and South Dakota Telecommunications Association; and Bill Van Camp, Olinger, Lovald, McCahren & Reimers, representing AT&T.
Joining the meeting by telephone were: Bob Sahr and Jim Edwards, East River Electric Power Cooperative, Inc.; Clyde Gross and Jeff Decker, NorthWestern Energy; Chris Madsen, Boyce, Greenfield, Pashby & Welk LLP, representing Qwest Communications Corporation; Colleen Sevold and George Thomson, Qwest Corporation; Jolyn Doering, Telco Consultant on behalf of Vantage Point; Bob Schuetzle, BEK Communications; Ryan Taylor, Cutler & Donahoe, LLP, representing Alliance Communications; and Jeff Larson, Larson & Nipe, representing Santel Communications.
- Status Report on Consumer Utility Inquiries and Complaints Received by the Commission. (Consumer Affairs: Deb Gregg)
Ms. Deb Gregg reported that the Commission had received a total of 110 contacts since the last report was prepared for the September 9, 2008 Commission meeting. 22 contacts involved telecommunications services; 37 contacts involved electricity issues; 11 contacts involved natural gas issues; 6 contacts involved cell phone services, 19 contacts involved the Do Not Call Registry; 1 contact involved the Keystone Pipeline and 14 contacts involved issues not regulated by the Public Utilities Commission. In 2008, 1,779 of the 1,864 complaints registered have been resolved informally. In 2007, 2327 of the 2,337 complaints registered have been resolved informally.
1. EL08-016 In the Matter of the Application of East River Electric Power Cooperative, Inc. for a Permit to Construct 9.5 miles of 115 kV Transmission Line in Lincoln and Turner Counties. (Staff Analysts: Bob Knadle/Brian Rounds/Terri LaBrie Baker, Staff Attorney: Karen Cremer)
Mr. Bob Sahr, representing East River Electric, stated that East River has entered into a stipulation with Staff, and upon recommendations by Staff, East River will be working closely with the landowners. Ms. Karen Cremer, Staff Attorney, recommended the Commission grant the joint motion for approval of stipulation, adopt the stipulation without modification and approve the permit to construct.
Vice Chairman Kolbeck moved the Commission approve the Stipulation and approve the permit to construct. Motion passed 3-0.
2. EL08-024 In the Matter of the Application of East River Electric Power Cooperative, Inc. for a Permit to Construct approximately 22 miles of 115 kV Transmission Line.(Staff Analysts: Bob Knadle/ Terri LaBrie Baker/Brian Rounds, Staff Attorney: Karen Cremer)
Mr. Bob Sahr, representing East River Electric, stated that East River is no longer pursuing this application and is requesting the Commission dismiss the application. Ms. Karen Cremer, Staff Attorney, stated that staff supports the Motion to Dismiss and to close the docket.
Commissioner Johnson moved the Commission grant the Motion to Dismiss without prejudice and to close the docket. Motion passed 3-0.
Mr. Jeff Decker, NorthWestern Energy, stated this is an annual filing with the Commission. The new fuel retention percentage proposed to be effective October 1, 2008, is 1.89%, an increase of 1.59% from the currently effective retention percentage of 0.30%. NorthWestern requested the Commission approve the proposed retention percentage with the effective date of October 1, 2008. Jon Thurber, Staff Analyst, recommended approval of the tariff revision.
Commissioner Johnson moved the Commission approve the tariff revisions. Motion passed 3-0.
1. PS08-001 In the Matter of the Filing of the Investigation of the Natural Gas Incident of February 20, 2008, on Montana-Dakota Utilities Co.'s System in Pierre, South Dakota. (Staff Analyst: Nathan Solem, Staff Attorney: Kara Semmler)
Mr. Nathan Solem, Staff Analyst, recommended prevention of reoccurrence is the required focus of this docket under 192.617. A second pig is in the line and could result in similar conditions as the first incident when the pig is received in Pierre. Staff studied 4 options to prevent reoccurrence including: scheduled arrival of the second pig via controlled gas release, proper assembly and torquing of all flanges, removal of the ignition source and better debris handling in the addendum report. Staff recommendated removal of the ignition source and proper assembly and torquing of all flanges be implemented. Controlled gas release and better debris handling, although desirable, are cost intensive and may not provide a desired cost benefit ratio. Further, in Staff's opinion, sufficient data is not available and may not be possible to obtain to accurately determine the probable cause or causes of the incident. Staff outlined four casual possibilities: strainer gasket failure due to transient pressure from the pigging operation, sandblast destruction of the gasket due to high velocity debris, flange bolts not extending through nuts and improperly torqued flange bolts. With winter approaching and the potential for a high gas demand day, which could draw in the second pig, Staff recommends action today rather than any other further study of probable cause or prevention reoccurrence methods. Mr. Jim Robbennolt, representing SDIP, fully supports staff's conclusions and recommendations. Mr. Dave Gerdes, representing MDU, stated MDU's facilities on or near the area of the gas loss and fire are interconnected with SDIP. MDU has a business arrangement for the transportation of gas to MDU's facilities. MDU is not concerned with the gasket, but is concerned with the second pig out there and the prevention of a future incident. MDU requestd the Commission address the pig. MDU stated that the failure was caused by the abnormal operation of SDIP's pigging operation and the resulting debris entering the system. MDU demanded that It is no coincidence the gasket failed at the precise time the debris entered MDU's system from the SDIP pipeline. The sandblasting effect is only caused by the high velocity gas stream and the debris load contained within the noncompliant gas. MDU removed the building heater. MDU stated the remaining plan elements suggested by Staff are not supported by the evidence. MDU requested action be taken in a timely manner to prevent a serious incidence from happening in the future. Ms Semmler, staff attorney, stated the purpose of the investigation by pipeline safety staff was to determine if there were any statutory or code violations.
Vice Chairman Kolbeck moved the Commission approve staff's revised pipeline safety report along with recommendations two and three. Motion passed 3-0.
The Commission deferred action on staff's recommendation one, to include alarms and costs and recommendation four, to include filtering systems.
Chairman Hanson called for a brief recess.
The Commission returned to session at 3:40pm.
1. TC06-181 In the Matter of the Petition of Venture Communications Cooperative for Suspension or Modification of Local Dialing Parity Reciprocal Compensation Obligations (Staff Analyst: Harlan Best, Staff Attorney: Kara Semmler)
Ms. Margo Northup, representing Venture Communications, settled with Alltel, on October 2007, and requested the Commission approve the withdrawal from the docket.
Vice Chairman Kolbeck moved the Commission grant the motion and close the docket. Motion passed 3-0.
2. TC07-128 In the Matter of the Filing by Sancom, Inc. d/b/a Mitchell Telecom for Approval of its Intrastate Switched Access Tariff and for an Extension of an Exemption from Developing Company Specific Cost-Based Switched Access Rates (Staff Analyst: Keith Senger, Staff Attorney: Karen Cremer)
Mr. John Smith, Commission Counsel, stated Qwest had filed a Motion to Withdraw Intervention and recommended the Commission address the filing before addressing the settlement stipulation. Mr. Chris Madsen, representing Qwest, stated that Qwest filed a Motion to Withdraw Intervention and requested approval from the Commission.
Commissioner Johnson moved the Commission approve the Motion to Withdraw. Motion passed 3-0.
Mr. Bill Van Camp, representing AT&T, stated that AT&T had no objection to the settlement agreement between Sancom and Staff. Mr. Keith Senger stated that Staff requests the Commission approve the Settlement Stipulation filed between Staff and Sancom. Ms. JoAnn Doering, Vantage Point, requested the Commission approve the filing with an effective date of October 1, 2008. Mr. Jeff Larson, representing Santel, stated that Santel has not implemented the new rate as agreed upon in the Settlement Stipulation, and respectfully requested the Commission adopt the Settlement Stipulation with the effective date of October 1, 2008. Ms. Cremer, Staff Attorney, recommended that Sancom be granted a waiver from the requirements of filing cost data, and a waiver from the filing requirements of ARSD 20:10:27:12, and to approve the Settlement Stipulation without modification and as to the effective date, Staff recommended the effective date of July 1, 2008, the date the parties agreed to in the Settlement Stipulation.
Vice Chairman Kolbeck moved the Commission approve the Settlement Stipulation as filed with recommendations from staff. Motion passed 3-0.
3. TC08-034 In the Matter of the Application of BEK Communications Cooperative for a Certificate of Authority to Provide Local Exchange Services in South Dakota. (Staff Analyst: Dave Jacobson, Staff Attorney: Karen Cremer)
Ms. Margo Northrup stated that Valley Telecommunications is requesting an Amended Certificate of Authority, and approval of the proposed boundary territory change between Valley and BEK. Ms. Karen Cremer, Staff Attorney, recommended the Commission grant a Certificate of Authority for both local and interexchange service to BEK with its service area described in its data response. Staff also recommended the Commission grant Valley's request for an Amended Certificate of Authority with a waiver of ARSD 20:10: 32:03, 9-21 and 23.
Commissioner Johnson moved the Commission grant a Certificate of Authority to BEK and the Commission approve the Amended Certificate of Authority to Valley Telecommunications with the waiver as recommended by staff. Motion passed 3-0
4. TC08-087 In the Matter of the Application of NovaTel Ltd., Inc. for a Certificate of Authority to Provide Interexchange Telecommunications Services in South Dakota. (Staff Analyst: Terri LaBrie Baker, Staff Attorney: Kara Semmler)
Ms. Terri LaBrie Baker, Staff Analyst, stated NovaTel met the requirements to grant a Certificate of Authority and staff recommended the Commission grant an Interexchange Certificate of Authority to NovaTel, subject to the restrictions that NovaTel not offer any prepaid services (including prepaid calling cards) and not accept or require any deposits or advance payments without prior approval of the Commission.
Commissioner Johnson moved the Commission grant a Certificate of Authority to NovaTel Ltd., Inc. to include conditions as recommended by staff. Motion passed 3-0.
5. TC08-104 In the Matter of the Application of Enventis Telecom, Inc. for a Certificate of Authority to Provide Interexchange Telecommunications Services in South Dakota. (Staff Analyst: Terri LaBrie Baker, Staff Attorney: Kara Semmler)
Ms. Terri LaBrie Baker, Staff Analyst, stated Enventis Telecom, Inc. met the requirements to grant a Certificate of Authority and provided Staff with all the necessary information requested. Enventis asked for a waiver from ARSD 20:10:24:02(9) to the extent it requires a Cash Flow Statement. Staff recommended the Commission grant the waiver request and grant an Interexchange Certificate of Authority to Enventis Telecom.
Vice Chairman Kolbeck moved the Commission grant a Certificate of Authority to Enventis Telecom, Inc per staff's recommendations. Motion passed 3-0.
6. TC08-105 In the Matter of the Application of Midcontinent Communications for Approval to Provide Local Exchange Service in a Rural Service Area (Staff Analyst: Terri LaBrie Baker, Staff Attorney: Karen Cremer)
Mr. Ryan Taylor, representing Alliance Communications, requested that the Commission grant intervention to Alliance Communications. Ms. Karen Cremer, Staff Attorney, recommended the Commission grant intervention to Alliance and defer the SDTA matter.
Vice Chairman Kolbeck moved the Commission grant invention to Alliance Communications. Motion passed 3-0.
The Commission deferred action on SDTA's petition to intervene.
Mr. Bob Knadle, Staff Analyst, stated Sprint filed for approval of revisions to its Access Service Tariff No. 3, which relate to the introduction of Toll Free Database Access Service--Vertical Feature Query Functionality. Sprint's proposed rate for the new service is lower than Qwest's rate for a comparable service and Staff recommends approval with an effective date of September 15, 2008, as proposed by Sprint.
Vice Chairman Kolbeck moved the Commission approve the access service tariff effective September 15, 2008.
There being no further business, at the hour of 4:20 pm the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission Meeting adjourned. Next Commission meeting October 7, 2008.
_/S/ Demaris Axthelm_____________________
November 12, 2008