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South Dakota Public Utilities Commission Meeting
May 3, 2011, at 9:30 A.M. CDT
Room 413, Capitol Building
Pierre, South Dakota
MINUTES OF THE COMMISSION MEETING
Chairman Steve Kolbeck called the meeting to Order. Present were: Commissioner Gary Hanson, Commissioner Chris Nelson; Commission Counsel: John Smith and Rolayne Wiest; Staff Attorneys: Karen Cremer, Kara Semmler; and Ryan Soye; Staff Analysts: Chris Daugaard, Dave Jacobson, Brian Rounds, Brittany Mehlhaff, and Jon Thurber; Consumer Affairs Supervisor: Deb Gregg and Staff: Demaris Axthelm.
Also present were: Darla Pollman Rogers, Riter, Rogers, Wattier and Northrup, representing Golden West Telecommunications, South Dakota Network, LLC, and South Dakota Telecommunications Association, James Cremer, Bantz, Gosch, & Cremer, representing James Valley Wireless, and Todd Lantor, James Valley Wireless.
Joining the meeting by telephone was: Chris Kilpatrick and Glynda Rahn, Black Hills Power, Inc., Jeffrey Decker, NorthWestern Corporation dba NorthWestern Energy, Talbot Wieczorek, Gunderson, Palmer, Nelson & Ashmore, LLC, representing Sprint Communications Company, L.P. and Cellco Partnership d/b/a Verizon Wireless; Meredith Moore, Cutler & Donahoe LLP, representing Splitrock Properties, Inc., Andrew M. Carlson, Briggs and Morgan, P.A., representing Cellco Partnership d/b/a Verizon Wireless.
(NOTE: For the purpose of continuity, these minutes are not necessarily in chronological order.)
1. Approval of the Minutes of the Commission Meeting Held on April 5, 2011. (Staff: Tina Douglas)
Commissioner Nelson moved to approve the minutes of the Commission Meeting held on April 5, 2011. Motion passed 3-0.
1. Status Report on Consumer Utility Inquiries and Complaints Received by the Commission. (Consumer Affairs: Deb Gregg)
Ms. Deb Gregg, Consumer Affairs, reported that the Commission received a total of 186 contacts since the last report was prepared for the April 19, 2011, Commission meeting. 23 of the contacts involved telecommunication services, 27 of the contacts involved electrical services, 15 contacts involved natural gas service, 1 contact involved gas and electric service, 78 contacts involved cell phone service, 29 contacts were related to the Do Not Call Registry, and 2 wind energy contacts, and 11 contacts were related to issues not regulated by the PUC.
887 of the 985 complaints received in 2011 have been resolved.
1. EL11-001 In the Matter of the Petition of Black Hills Power, Inc. to Establish an Environmental Measures Cost Recovery Tariff (Staff Analysts: Jon Thurber, Brittany Mehlhaff, Chris Daugaard, Staff Attorney: Ryan Soye)
Mr. Ryan Soye, Staff Attorney, on part of Staff requested approval to provide the Executive Director authority to enter into necessary consulting contracts in the amount of $40,000.
Commissioner Nelson offered one discussion point stating that it is imperative that the Commission provide Staff the resources necessary to rigorously evaluate this tariff request.
Commissioner Nelson moved to provide the Executive Director authority to enter into necessary consulting contracts having a total amount not to exceed $40,000. Motion passed 3-0.
Mr. Jeffrey Decker, NorthWestern Corporation dba NorthWestern Energy stated that this filing represents NorthWestern's First Annual Filing Update to its Small Qualifying Facility Rider and this update was calculated using actual data from 2010. The updated rates are based on actual fuel and purchased power costs. Total purchases from the three customers utilizing this rate were 1,453 kWh for 2010. In calculating the updated rates, NorthWestern Energy chose to use historical data as opposed to future price projections for setting its rates. Mr. Decker further stated that NorthWestern Energy has completed an eleven year look back at this method. The cumulative error for this period would have been less than six percent. Based on the accuracy of this pricing method and the avoidance of the costs of projection software and monitoring, NorthWestern Energy is comfortable with the historical price projection method.
Ms. Brittany Mehlhaff, Staff Analyst, stated that NorthWestern Energy proposed small increases to the energy and capacity payments for its Small Qualifying Facility Rider based on the Company's 2010 avoided cost of fuel and purchased power. There are currently three customers on Rate No. 73 and no customers on Rate No. 74. On April 29th, NorthWestern made a supplemental filing of a revised tariff sheet that corrects a typographical error. Staff recommended approval of the tariff revisions with an effective date of May 3, 2011.
Chairman Kolbeck moved to approve the Tariff Revisions with an effective date of May 3, 2011. Motion passed 3-0.
1. TC09-098 In the Matter of the Complaint filed by South Dakota Network, LLC against Sprint Communications Company L.P. Regarding Failure to Pay Intrastate Centralized Equal Access Charges and to Immediately Pay Undisputed Portions of SDN's Invoices (Staff Analyst: Bobbi Bourk, Staff Attorney: Karen Cremer)
Mr. Talbot Wieczorek, Gunderson, Palmer, Nelson & Ashmore, LLC, representing Sprint Communications Company, L.P. stated there is a slight difference between discovery requirements in the federal courts and under the state rules. For the purposes of consistency in the requirements of discovery, all parties agree to be controlled by the federal rules regarding expert discovery and ask that the Commission adopt these rules for purposes of this docket.
Ms. Darla Pollman Rogers, Riter, Rogers, Wattier and Northrup, representing South Dakota Network, LLC, agreed with Mr. Wieczorek's summary stated that she has no objection to the approval of the Stipulation.
Ms. Karen Cremer, Staff Attorney, recommended the Commission grant Sprint's Motion for Approval of Stipulation Regarding Expert Discovery.
Commissioner Hanson moved to grant Sprint's Motion for Approval of Stipulation Regarding Expert Discovery. Motion passed 3-0.
2. TC10-090 In the Matter of the Petition of Cellco Partnerships and its Subsidiaries and Affiliates to Amend and Consolidate Eligible Telecommunications Carrier Designations in the State of South Dakota and to Partially Relinquish ETC Designation (Staff Analyst: Brian Rounds, Staff Attorney: Kara Semmler)
A lengthy discussion took place regarding Cellco Partnerships and its Subsidiaries and Affiliates request to grant the Motions to Compel Discovery and the Motion to Strike Testimony which can be found on the PUC website under Commission Actions, Commission Meeting Archives, 2011, May 3, 2011, recording located at: http://puc.sd.gov/Archives/2011/default.aspx.
Commissioner Hanson moved to grant the Motion to Defer Action on the pending Motions and grant the Motion to Defer for the Hearing on May 11 and 12, 2011 to a later date to be determined by the Commission and the parties. Motion passed 3-0.
There being no further business, at the hour of 9:51 a.m. the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission meeting adjourned. The next Commission meeting is scheduled for May 17, 2011.
/S/ Lennis Axdahl
May 3, 2011