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South Dakota Public Utilities Commission Meeting
December 9, 2008, at 8:30 A.M.
Room 464, Capitol Building
Pierre, South Dakota

MINUTES OF THE COMMISSION MEETING

Vice Chairman Steve Kolbeck called the meeting to order.  Present were: Commissioner Dusty Johnson; Executive Director Patty Van Gerpen; Deputy Executive Director Heather Forney; Commission Advisor Greg Rislov; Commission Attorneys Rolayne Wiest and John Smith; Staff Attorneys Kara Semmler and Karen Cremer; Staff Analysts Terri LaBrie Baker, Nathan Solem, Stacy Splittstoesser, Bob Knadle, Tim Binder, and Jon Thurber; Consumer Affairs Supervisor Deb Gregg; and Administrative Secretary Demaris Axthelm.

Also present were:  Talbot Wieczorek, Gunderson, Palmer, Goodsell & Nelson, representing Alltel Communications and Sprint Communications Company L.P.; Bill Van Camp, Olinger, Lovald, McCahren & Reimers, representing AT&T Communications of the Midwest, Inc.; Darla Rogers, Riter, Rogers, Wattier & Northrup, representing Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Telephone Authority; Meredith Moore, Cutler and Donahoe, representing Alliance Communications Cooperative, Inc., McCook Cooperative Telephone Company, Beresford Municipal Telephone Company, Kennebec Telephone Company, Santel Communications Cooperative, Inc. and West River Cooperative Telephone Company; Todd Hansen, Beresford Municipal Telephone Company; Dave Gerdes, May, Adam, Gerdes and Thompson, representing Midcontinent Communications; and Larry Thompson, Vantage Point Solutions.

Joining the meeting by telephone were: Chairman Gary Hanson; Thomas Forte, Technologies Management on behalf of Access Point, Inc.; Wendy Harper, Vantage Point Solutions; Mary Lohnes, Midcontinent Communications;  and  Jerry Reisenauer, West River Cooperative Telephone Company.

Vice Chairman Kolbeck announced that Dockets TC07-112, TC07-113, TC07-114, TC07-115 and TC07-116 will be taken up at the end of the agenda, but before leadership.

Administration

  1. Approval of the Minutes of the Ad Hoc Commission Meeting Held on October 30, 2008 (Staff:  Demaris Axthelm) 

        Commissioner Johnson moved to approve the Commission Minutes of October 30, 2008.  Motion passed 3-0.

Consumer Reports

  1. 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 72 contacts since the last report was prepared for the November 25, 2008 Commission meeting.  8 contacts involved telecommunications services; 19 contacts involved electrical services; 10 contacts involved natural gas services; 5 contacts involved cell phone services, 14 contacts involved the Do Not Call Registry; 5 contacts involved the grain warehouse; and 11 contacts involved issues not regulated by the Public Utilities Commission.   In 2008, 2,323 of the 2,393 complaints registered have been resolved informally.  In 2007, 2,328 of the 2,337 complaints registered have been resolved informally. 


Pipeline Safety

1.      PS08-004        In the Matter of the Petition of Commission Pipeline Safety Program Manager for a Declaratory Ruling on Jurisdiction of Low Income Housing Propane System. (Staff Analysts: Nathan Solem/Stacy Splittstoesser, Staff Attorney: Kara Semmler)
           
           Ms. Kara Semmler, Staff Attorney, stated the Burke Housing Authority is a non-profit elderly low income housing unit in Burke SD and has a propane gas delivery system, where costs are paid through a government subsidy.  The user rents cannot be modified based on actual cost.   Mr. Nathan Solem, Pipeline Safety Program Manager, stated that although no immediate safety threat exists the facility is not in compliance and it could be costly for them to get into compliance if the Commission finds PUC jurisdiction exists. Ms. Semmler stated Staff does not believe this Commission has jurisdiction over the facility.

            Chairman Hanson moved to find that the Commission does not have jurisdiction over the Burke Housing Authority low income housing propane system.  Motion passed 3-0.

Telecommunications

2.      TC08-030        In the Matter of the Application of Access Point, Inc. for a Certificate of Authority to Provide Local Exchange Services in South Dakota.  (Staff Analyst: Bob Knadle, Staff Attorney: Kara Semmler)

         Mr. Thomas Forte, Consultant on the behalf of Access Point, Inc, stated that he has enjoyed working with staff and would be available for questions.  Mr. Bob Knadle, Staff Analyst, stated that Access Point, Inc., filed its application in accordance with the administrative rules. The applicant has a COA for interexchange service issued from the Commission in 1997.  The Commission has not received complaints regarding Access Point.  Staff recommended the Commission grant the Certificate of Authority to Access Point, Inc., subject to rural safe guards and subject to the restrictions that it 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. Staff further recommended a waiver of ARSD 20:10:32:03(12).

           Commissioner Johnson moved to grant a Certificate of Authority to Access Point, Inc., subject to rural safeguards to the condition that Access Point not offer any prepaid services, including prepaid calling cards, and not accept or require customer deposits or advanced payments without prior approval of the Commission and to grant the waiver of ARSD 20:10:32:03(12). Motion passed 3-0.

3.      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. Dave Gerdes, representing Midcontinent, stated that Midcontinent seeks either a determination that Alliance has waived the rural exemption contained in 47 U.S.C. § 251(f)(1)(A) or that the rural exemption was terminated pursuant to 47 U.S.C. § 251(f)(1)(B). Either form of relief results in a termination of the rural exemption as it applies to Alliance. Mr. Gerdes further stated that Midcontinent renews its request for a hearing to determine whether Alliance is in fact engaging in the provision of video programming in the Crooks and Baltic exchange areas and that the facts presented at such a hearing will establish that Alliance is currently offering cable in the relevant exchanges. Ms. Meredith Moore, representing Alliance Communications Cooperative, stated that Alliance is requesting a formal opportunity to respond to the Motion to Compel Discovery filed by Midcontinent. Alliance requested that the Commission deny Midcontinent's Motion to Deem Rural Exemption Waived, deny Midcontinent's request for an evidentiary hearing, and instead initiate a proceeding pursuant to ARSD 20:10:32:38 to determine whether Alliance must comply with Midcontinent's request for interconnection.  Ms. Karen Cremer, Staff Attorney, recommended Alliance be given time to respond to Midcontinent's Motion to Compel. Ms. Rolayne Wiest, Commission Attorney, recommended that the Commission allow time for Alliance to respond to Midcontinent's Motion to Compel.      

         In Docket TC08-105, no action was taken by the Commission.    

4.      TC08-122        In the Matter of the Petition of Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Telephone Authority for Arbitration Pursuant to the Telecommunications Act of 1996 to Resolve Issues Relating to an Interconnection Agreement with Alltel Communications, LLC. (Staff Analysts: Roger Oldenkamp/Jon Thurber, Staff Attorney: Karen Cremer)

            Ms. Karen Cremer, Staff Attorney, stated that the filing fee is an administrative matter not to exceed $75,000.  The parties will be invoiced, with the first invoice being $500 each. Ms. Darla Rogers, representing Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Telephone Authority (CRST), stated that CRST does not oppose the filing fee that is being proposed. Mr. Talbot Wieczorek, representing Alltel, stated that Alltel had no objection.

         Vice Chairman Kolbeck moved that the Commission assess a filing fee not to exceed $75,000 on the parties to the docket pursuant to SDCL 49-31-44. Motion passed 3-0.

5.      TC08-128        In the Matter of the Filing by OrbitCom, Inc. for Approval of Revisions to its Switched Access Services Tariff. (Staff Analyst: Jon Thurber, Staff Attorney: Karen Cremer)

             Mr. Bill Van Camp, representing AT&T Communications of the Midwest, Inc., requested that the Commission grant its intervention request.  Meredith Moore, representing OrbitCom Inc., stated that OrbitCom had no objection to AT&T's petition for intervention.  Ms. Karen Cremer, Staff Attorney, recommended the Commission approve AT&T's intervention. 

         Chairman Hanson moved that the Commission grant AT&T Communications of the Midwest, Inc., invention.  Motion passed 3-0.

6.      TC08-129        In the Matter of the Filing for Approval of an Interconnection Agreement between Qwest Corporation and Avera Communications, L.L.C. (Staff Attorney: Kara Semmler)

             Ms. Kara Semmler stated the agreement was properly filed, properly executed and does not appear to contain discriminatory provisions.  No comments were filed and Ms. Semmler recommended approval of the interconnection agreement. 

         Vice Chairman Kolbeck moved to approve the Interconnection agreement in Docket TC08-129.  Motion passed 3-0.   

1.      In the Matter of the Petition for Arbitration Pursuant to the Telecommunications Act of 1996 to Resolve Issues Relating to an Interconnection Agreement in Dockets TC07-112, TC07-113, TC07-114, TC07-115, and TC07-116

         TC07-112        In the Matter of the Petition of McCook Cooperative Telephone Company for Arbitration Pursuant to the Telecommunications Act of 1996 to Resolve Issues Relating to an Interconnection Agreement with Alltel Communications, Inc. (Staff Analyst: Bob Knadle, Staff Attorney: Karen Cremer)

         TC07-113        In the Matter of the Petition of Beresford Municipal Telephone Company for Arbitration Pursuant to the Telecommunications Act of 1996 to Resolve Issues Relating to an Interconnection Agreement with Alltel Communications, Inc. (Staff Analyst: Bob Knadle, Staff Attorney: Karen Cremer)

         TC07-114        In the Matter of the Petition of Kennebec Telephone Company for Arbitration Pursuant to the Telecommunications Act of 1996 to Resolve Issues Relating to an Interconnection Agreement with Alltel Communications, Inc. (Staff Analyst: Bob Knadle, Staff Attorney: Karen Cremer)

         TC07-115        In the Matter of the Petition of Santel Communications Cooperative, Inc. for Arbitration Pursuant to the Telecommunications Act of 1996 to Resolve Issues Relating to an Interconnection Agreement with Alltel Communications, Inc. (Staff Analyst: Bob Knadle, Staff Attorney: Karen Cremer)

         TC07-116        In the Matter of the Petition of West River Cooperative Telephone Company for Arbitration Pursuant to the Telecommunications Act of 1996 to Resolve Issues Relating to an Interconnection Agreement with Alltel Communications, Inc. (Staff Analyst: Bob Knadle, Staff Attorney: Karen Cremer)

         See link to listen to the December 9, 2008, Commission Meeting;
http://media.sd.gov/ramgen/puc/puc120908.rm    

Leadership

1.      Election of a Chairperson and Vice-Chairperson of the Commission. (General Counsel: John Smith)

         Chairman Hanson nominated Commissioner Johnson to serve as Chairman, to be effective immediately and continue through the 2009 calendar year.  Motion passed 3-0.

        Commissioner Hanson nominated Commissioner Kolbeck to serve as Vice Chairman, to be effective immediately and continue through the 2009 calendar year.  Motion passed 3-0.

There being no further business, at the hour of 12:08 pm the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission Meeting adjourned. Next Commission meeting is scheduled for December 30, 2008.

 

_/S/Demaris Axthelm____
Demaris Axthelm
Administrative Secretary
January 27, 2009