South Dakota Public Utilities Commission Meeting
April 21, 2009, at 9:30 A.M.
Room 413, Capitol Building
Pierre, South Dakota
MINUTES OF THE COMMISSION MEETING
Chairman Dustin Johnson called the meeting to order. Present were: Vice Chairman Steve Kolbeck; Commissioner Gary Hanson; Executive Director Patty Van Gerpen; Deputy Executive Director Heather Forney; Commission Advisor Greg Rislov; Commission Attorneys John Smith and Rolayne Wiest; Staff Attorneys Kara Semmler and Karen Cremer; Staff Analysts Terri LaBrie Baker, Dave Jacobson, Bob Knadle, Tim Binder, Brian Rounds, Nathan Solem, Stacy Splittstoesser and Jon Thurber; Consumer Affairs Supervisor Deb Gregg; and Administrative Secretary Demaris Axthelm.
Also present were: Brett Koenecke, May, Adam, Gerdes and Thompson, representing Buffalo Ridge II LLC a subsidiary of Iberdrola Renewables; Dave Gerdes, May, Adam, Gerdes and Thompson, representing Midcontinent Communications; Mary Lohnes, Midcontinent Communications; Darla Rogers, Riter, Rogers, Wattier & Northrup, representing Sioux Valley Energy, South Dakota Rural Electric Association, MidState Telecom and H-D Electric Cooperative; Rich Coit, South Dakota Telecommunications Association; and Ron Spangler, David Prazak, Bruce Gerhardson and Pete Beithon, Otter Tail Power.
Joining the meeting by telephone were: Meredith Moore, Cutler and Donahoe, representing Reduced Rate Long Distance; Debbie Kutsunis, Jennifer Moore, Tammy Krisman, Tom Gesell, Suzan Stewart and Melanie Acord, MidAmerican Energy Company; Tim Seck, Buffalo Ridge II LLC, a subsidiary of Iberdrola Renewables; Tamie Aberle, Montana-Dakota Utilities; Mark Benton, Midstate Telecom, Inc.; and Terrell Spence.
- Approval of the Minutes of the Commission Meetings held on February 24, 2009, and March 10, 2009. (Staff: Demaris Axthelm)
Commissioner Hanson moved to approve the Commission Minutes of February 24, 2009, and March 10, 2009. Motion passed 3-0.
- 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 103 contacts since the last report was prepared for the April 7, 2009 Commission meeting. 33 contacts involved telecommunications services; 23 contacts involved electrical services; 3 contacts involved electrical and natural gas issues; 9 contacts involved cell phone services; 18 contacts involved the Do Not Call Registry; 1 contact was related to the Keystone XL Pipeline; and 16 contacts involved issues not regulated by the Public Utilities Commission. In 2009, 836 of the 895 complaints registered have been resolved informally. In 2008, 2,512 of the 2,513 complaints registered have been resolved informally.
1. EL07-015 In the Matter of the Filing by MidAmerican Energy Company for Approval of its Proposed Energy Efficiency Plan for 2008. (Staff Analysts: Brian Rounds/Dave Jacobson/Bob Knadle, Staff Attorney: Karen Cremer)
Ms. Debbie Kutsunis stated that MidAmerican Energy is requesting approval of two additional changes to tariff sheets related to the energy efficiency plan. Mr. Dave Jacobson stated that the first tariff change from MidAmerican was a language change and the second change is the actual rate change, taking into account higher volumes. Mr. Jacobson recommended that the Commission approve the additional tariff changes with an effective date of May 1, 2009.
Chairman Johnson moved to approve the additional tariff changes on less than 30 days notice. Motion passed 3-0.
2. EL08-031 In the Matter of the Application by Buffalo Ridge II LLC a Subsidiary of Iberdrola Renewables, Inc., for an Energy Conversion Facility Permit for the Construction of the Buffalo Ridge II Wind Farm and Associated Collection Substation and Electric Interconnection System. (Staff Analysts: Brian Rounds/Stacy Splittstoesser/Tim Binder, Staff Attorney: Kara Semmler)
Chairman Johnson announced that the commission held a public hearing on April 15, 2009, and at that time the Commission voted unanimously to approve the Settlement Stipulations. Chairman Johnson further stated that on April 20, 2009, Sioux Valley, H-D Electric and SDREA filed Proposed Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law and conditions.
Chairman Johnson moved to approve the Stipulation among Applicant, Staff and Brookings County and adopt the Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law and conditions that were part of the stipulation. Motion passed 3-0.
Mr. Brett Koenecke, representing Iberdrola Renewables, Inc. stated that he had no objections to adding the language from the stipulation into the current Findings and Conclusions. Mr. Terrell Spence stated that he had no objection. Ms. Kara Semmler stated that staff had no comments.
Chairman Johnson moved to adopt the Parties' Proposed Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law and modify the Stipulation's Findings and Conclusions accordingly. Motion passed 3-0.
Chairman Johnson moved to put in place the Findings of Fact, Conclusion of Law and Conditions that the applicant will be required to make a filing within 90 days after the tenth year after commencement of operation with regard to the decommissioning and at that point the Commission can make a decision as to whether additional protection regarding decommissioning is necessary. Motion passed 3-0.
Chairman Johnson stated that the fourth item of concern was raised by interveners Carter and Spence regarding, Wind Turbine # 91, 92, 93, 94, and wind turbine number 95. Findings show that turbine 91 is 1355 feet from the home of Mr. Spence and that it is 35.05% beyond the minimal residential set back required by Brookings County ordinances. Sound studies that were done indicated that the nosiest wind turbine proposed at the intervenors home the sound would be 42 to 43 decimals which is significantly lower than the 50 decimal limit that has been used by the Commission and is required by the Brookings County Ordinance. Mr. Spence stated he had no objections to the Findings of Facts and asked Iberdrola to consider not building turbine # 91.
Chairman Johnson moved that the Commission find that 1,000 feet and 50 decimals provide adequate protection for landowners and that no issues unique to Ms. Carter or Mr. Spence were raised to give them any special set back treatment that would be only applicable to them. Motion passed 3-0.
Chairman Johnson further instructed that Commission counsel make necessary adjustments to the Findings of Facts and Conclusions of Law to make them consistent with the record.
Chairman Johnson moved to approve the permit to construct Buffalo Ridge II wind generation project in accordance of the Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law and Terms and Conditions. Motion passed 3-0.
Mr. Dave Jacobson stated that Staff was contacted by MidAmerican Energy and asked to terminate the reporting requirement. Mr. Jacobson asked that the Commission grant the petition to terminate the ongoing information requirement in Docket F-3661. Ms. Suzan Stewart agreed with Mr. Jacobson and further stated that it is MidAmerican's belief that this information no longer needs to be collected.
Vice Chairman Kolbeck moved that the Commission grant the petition to terminate the ongoing information requirement in Docket F-3661. Motion passed 3-0.
1. NG09-001 In the Matter of the Filing by Montana-Dakota Utilities Co. for Approval of its Natural Gas Conservation Programs and Conservation Tracking Adjustment. (Staff Analysts: Brian Rounds/Dave Jacobson/Bob Knadle, Staff Attorney: Karen Cremer)
Ms. Tamie Aberle briefed the Commission on three items in Montana-Dakota Utilities (MDU) revised tariffs. Ms. Aberle further asked the Commission for approval of MDU's tracking adjustments and to allow MDU to continue to offer the current portfolio program until MDU can get back in front of the Commission on its new portfolio programs that were suggested in its March 2, 2009, filing. Mr. Dave Jacobson stated that this would extend MDU's current conservation program and Mr. Jacobson recommended extending the program until September 30, 2009. Mr. Jacobson also recommended that the Commission approve the new updated conservation tracking adjustment recovery charges with an effective date of May 1, 2009.
Chairman Johnson moved to approve the tariff changes with an effective date of May 1, 2009, remove the experimental designation for the program and extend the program offerings until September 30, 2009, with an expanded portfolio. Motion passed 3-0.
Ms. Melanie Acord briefed the Commission on MidAmerican Energy's application to expand the availability of and make permanent its monthly metered transportation (MMT) service for nonresidential small volume gas customers in South Dakota. Ms. Acord stated that the permanent program is primarily the same as the pilot program and MidAmerican is proposing some revisions based on experience over the past few years. MidAmerican is seeking an effective date of April 21, 2009, to allow the transition of the current pilot program for customers beginning May 1, 2009, with all customers transitioning to the permanent program by June, 2009. Mr. Dave Jacobson stated that currently there are 96 customers that will move over to the permanent program service. Mr. Jacobson further stated that there are 5 different fees that MidAmerican has proposed to be placed in the permanent program. Mr. Jacobson recommended approval of the tariff sheets with the condition that the Administrative Fee, Scheduling Fee, and Switching Fee remain in effect as filed until the next general rate proceeding, and that the Swing Service Fee and Weekend Service Rider be reflected as and subject to change as Purchased Gas Adjustment items.
Vice Chairman Kolbeck moved to approve the tariff revisions per staff recommendations and that the above-referenced tariffs are approved with an effective date of April 21, 2009. Motion passed 3-0.
1. TC07-107 In the Matter of Unauthorized Long Distance Changes and Unauthorized Telephone Charges Made by Reduced Rates Long Distance. (Staff Analysts: Brian Rounds/Deb Gregg, Staff Attorney: Kara Semmler)
Ms. Kara Semmler stated staff withdraws its previous motion regarding Reduced Rates' compliance with Commission order and close Docket TC07-107. Ms Meredith Moore asked the Commission to approve Staff's current motion and close Docket TC07-107.
Commissioner Hanson moved to grant staff's request to withdraw its previously filed motion and close Docket TC07-107. Motion passed 3-0.
2. 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 stated that a settlement has been reached between Alliance Communications and Midcontinent Communications. Ms. Meredith Moore, representing Alliance Communications (Alliance) concurred with Mr. Gerdes and stated that July 1, 2009, is the date that Alliance believes it will provide cable with the exception that if Alliance provides service earlier than July 1, 2009, it will provide reasonable notice to Midcontinent. Ms. Moore further asked that the Commission approve the confidential stipulation. Ms. Terri LaBrie Baker stated that Staff has no objection to the stipulation and recommends approval. Ms. LaBrie Baker further stated that Staff recommends granting the Amended Certificate of Authority, to include the geographic areas of Baltic and Crooks exchanges and granting confidential treatment of Midcontinent's financials with a proposed effective date of July 1, 2009, or such earlier date as Alliance provides video programming. Mr. Rich Coit, representing South Dakota Telecommunications Association (SDTA) stated that SDTA concurs with Alliance's positions on the issues with respect to the waiver.
Chairman Johnson moved to approve the confidential stipulation for partial settlement. Motion passed 3-0.
Vice Chairman Kolbeck moved to approve the Amended Certificate of Authority and to allow Midcontinent to provide local exchange service in the rural exchange areas of Crooks and Baltic, South Dakota confirming the geographical location to the city limits of Baltic and Crooks and subject to the stipulation and according to Staff recommendations. Motion passed 2-1 (Hanson dissenting).
3. TC08-131 In the Matter of the Application of VCI Company for Approval of Relinquishment of its Designation as an Eligible Telecommunications Carrier. (Staff Analyst: Tim Binder, Staff Attorney: Karen Cremer)
Mr. Tim Binder stated that VCI Company currently has no South Dakota customers, is not in possession of any deposits or prepayments and recommended that the Commission approve VCI Company's relinquishment of its designation as an eligible telecommunications carrier.
Chairman Johnson moved to approve VCI Company's relinquishment of its designation as an eligible telecommunications carrier. Motion passed 3-0.
4. TC09-009 In the Matter of the Filing by Midstate Telecom, Inc. for an Extension of an Exemption from Developing Company Specific Cost-Based Switched Access Rates. (Staff Analyst: Jon Thurber, Staff Attorney: Karen Cremer)
Mr. Dave Gerdes asked that the Commission grant Midcontinent Communications' late filed intervention. Ms. Darla Rogers, representing Midstate Telecom stated that Midstate filed written objections to Midcontinent Communications' late filed petition to intervene. Ms. Karen Cremer recommended that the Commission deny Midcontinent Communications' late filed intervention. Ms. Rolayne Wiest stated that the intervention dead line was March 20, 2009, and Midcontinent filed its petition to intervene two weeks after the due date, but prior to the settlement stipulation.
Vice Chairman Kolbeck moved to grant late filed intervention to Midcontinent Communications. Motion passed 3-0.
Ms. Rolayne Wiest recommended that the Commission defer action on the joint motion and settlement stipulation in order to allow parties to meet and figure out a time line regarding the settlement agreement.
Chairman Johnson moved to defer action on the settlement stipulation. Motion passed 3-0.
1. Establishment of the Gross Receipts Tax levy for the 2010 Fiscal Year (Deputy Executive Director: Heather Forney)
Ms. Heather Forney discussed the establishment of the Gross Receipts Tax Levy for the upcoming fiscal year 2010. Ms. Forney stated that on April 1st of each year all utilities and telecommunications companies doing business in South Dakota are required to file with the Commission its gross receipts derived from customers within South Dakota during the preceding calendar year pursuant to SDCL 49-1A-4. Ms. Forney further stated that the current assessment would be the same as it has been in the past, and asked that the Commission assess the levy at the maximum of .0015 with a two hundred fifty dollar minimum gross receipts tax in accordance with SDCL 49-1A-5, with the tax due and payable on July 15, 2009.
Vice Chairman Kolbeck moved that the Commission establish the rate and assess the gross receipts tax as requested by Staff. Motion passed 3-0.
ADDENDUM TO THE
AGENDA OF COMMISSION MEETING
1 EL08-030 In the Matter of the Filing by Otter Tail Corporation d/b/a Otter Tail Power Company for Authority to Increase Electric Rates in South Dakota. (Staff Analysts: Bob Knadle/Dave Jacobson/Terri LaBrie Baker/Jon Thurber/Tim Binder, Staff Attorney: Kara Semmler)
Mr. Bruce Gerhardson stated that Otter Tail Power Company (OTP) filed a rate case on October 31, 2008, and OTP has answered information requests from Staff. Mr. Gerhardson further stated that Staff and OTP have come to an agreement on a revenue requirement and are currently working on details of the rate design. Mr. Gerhardson further stated that OTP is not asking the Commission for authority to implement an final rate, but to implement an "interim" rate. Mr. Gerhardson further stated that OTP would like to implement the change using OTP's existing rate design and not the ones that have been proposed and to base OTP's revenue requirements in class allocations and rate allocations within the class based upon the agreement reached with Staff. Mr. Dave Jacobson stated that OTP had done an adequate job of explaining its proposal and Staff concurs with OTP's requests for the sake of avoiding customer confusion and for administrative efficiency.
Vice Chairman Kolbeck moved to approve Otter Tail Power Company's request to implement "interim" rates based on its existing rate design and proration method. Motion passed 3-0.
There being no further business, at the hour of 1:00 P.M. the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission Meeting adjourned. Next Commission meeting is scheduled for May 5, 2009.
July 14, 2009