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South Dakota Public Utilities Commission Meeting
September 13, 2011, at 9:30 A.M. CDT
Room 413, Capitol Building
Pierre, South Dakota

MINUTES OF THE COMMISSION MEETING

Chairman Gary Hanson called the meeting to Order. Present were: Commissioner Chris Nelson and Commissioner Kristie Fiegen; Commission Counsel: John Smith and Rolayne Wiest; Commission Advisor: Greg Rislov; Staff Attorneys: Kara Semmler and Ryan Soye; Staff Analysts: Dave Jacobson, Chris Daugaard, Brian Rounds, Bobbi Bourk, Matthew Tysdal, Jon Thurber, Brittany Mehlhaff and Ross Pedersen; Consumer Affairs Supervisor: Deb Gregg and Staff: Demaris Axthelm and Joy Irving.

Also present were: Darla Rogers, Riter, Rogers, Wattier & Northrup, LLP, representing South Dakota Telecommunications Association, Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Telephone Authority, Roberts County Telephone Cooperative Association and RC Communications, Inc.; Rich Coit, South Dakota Telecommunications Association; Jim Wilcox, Northern States Power Company dba Xcel Energy, and Brett Koenecke, May, Adam, Gerdes, and Thompson, representing Northern States Power Company dba Xcel Energy; and Jack Benning, Knology.

Joining the meeting by telephone was: Phil Zins and John Chow, Northern States Power Company dba Xcel Energy; Jeffrey Decker, NorthWestern Energy; Steve Otto, Verizon Wireless; Talbot Wieczorek, Gunderson, Palmer, Nelson & Ashmore, LLC, representing Cellco Partnership d/b/a Verizon Wireless; Matt Slaven, Briggs and Morgan, PA, representing  Cellco Partnership d/b/a Verizon Wireless; Gregory Hart and Paul Bengman, Long Line Wireless, LLC; Robin Thoreson, and Tim Ecklund, Roberts County Telephone; Ryan Thompson, Jeff Larson, Larson and Nipe representing, Santel Communications Cooperative; Felix Boccucci, Knology of the Black Hills, LLC; Jason Topp; Century Link; Kathy Ford, Davenport Evans Hurwitz & Smith LLP, representing Midcontinent Communications; Mary Lohnes, Midcontinent Communications; James Groft, James Valley Cooperative Telephone Company; Jim Cremer, Bantz, Gosch & Cremer, LLC , representing James Valley  Wireless; Laura Julius, Jim Adkins, Steve Meyer, City Of Brookings Municipal Telephone and Mary Sisak, Blooston Law Firm representing, Brookings Municipal Telephone dba Swiftel Communications.

Administration

1.     Approval of the Minutes of the Commission Meeting Held on August 24, 2011, and the Ad-Hoc Commission Meeting Held on August 30, 2011. (Staff:  Demaris Axthelm)

     Commissioner Chris Nelson moved to approve the minutes of the Commission Meeting held on August 24, 2011, and the Ad-Hoc Commission Meeting Held on August 30, 2011.  Motion carried 3-0.

Consumer Reports

1.     Status Report on Consumer Utility Inquiries and Complaints Received by the Commission. (Consumer Affairs: Deb Gregg)

The Commission received a total of 179 contacts since the last report was prepared for the August 24, 2011 Commission meeting.

33 of the contacts involved telecommunication services, 63 of the contacts involved electrical services, 14 contacts involved natural gas service, 39 contacts involved cell phone service, 14 contacts were related to the Do Not Call Registry, 1 contact was related to Wind Energy and 15 contacts were related to issues not regulated by the PUC.

2,058 of the 2,156 complaints received in 2011 have been resolved.

Commissioner Hanson stated in order to accommodate dockets that are highly confidential the following changes would be made to the order of the Agenda; Dockets TC11-063 and TC10-090 will be heard together and Dockets TC11-066 and TC11-062 would all be taken together prior to Dockets TC11-063 and TC10-090.

Electric

1.     EL11-015     In the Matter of the Filing by Northern States Power Company dba Xcel Energy for Approval of its Revised Rate Sheets for its Occasional Delivery Energy Service and Time of Delivery Energy Service (Staff Analyst: Ross Pedersen, Staff Attorney: Ryan Soye)

Jim Wilcox, Northern States Power Company dba Xcel Energy (Xcel), stated the new rates are lower than past rates and asked the Commission to approve Xcel's revised rate sheets.  Ryan Soye, staff attorney, recommended to approve Xcel's revised rate sheets and asked that a final tariff filing be made to reflect the deviations in the tariff sheets.

     Commissioner Hanson moved to approve Northern States Power Company dba Xcel Energy application for tariff revisions subject to recommendations made by staff.  Motion passed 3-0.

2.     EL11-022     In the Matter of the Filing by NorthWestern Corporation, dba NorthWestern Energy for Approval of a Contract with Deviations (Staff Analysts: Dave Jacobson, Ross Pedersen, Staff Attorney: Ryan Soye)

Jeff Decker, NorthWestern Corporation, d/b/a NorthWestern Energy (NorthWestern), stated Andes Central School (customer) will be adding an addition to its school. Therefore, Northwestern will need to increase the size of its transformer. Northwestern did propose to its customer to upgrade the existing transformer at no extra cost to the customer.  The customer has requested NorthWestern serve this addition from a new transformer from the backside of the building that would require additional cost for NorthWestern.  Mr. Decker asked the Commission for approval to bill the customer for the difference in the construction cost upon completion of the project.  Ryan Soye, staff attorney, stated the customer is fully aware of the additional cost and recommended the Commission approve NorthWestern's contract with deviation.  

     Commissioner Fiegen moved to approve NorthWestern's contract with deviations.  Motion carried 3-0.

Telecommunications

1.     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)

Talbot Wieczorek, representing Cellco Partnership d/b/a Verizon Wireless (Verizon), asked the Commission to approve Verizon's Motion to Withdraw.  Kara Semmler, staff attorney, stated staff is comfortable with the Motion to Withdraw based on the resolution of TC11-063 with the conditions recommended by staff.  Jim Cremer, representing James Valley Wireless, stated that James Valley supports the Motion to Withdraw.  Rich Coit stated SDTA does not object to the Motion to Withdraw.  Commissioner Nelson asked the Companies explain to the Commission on what happened on September 28, 2010 and a few days thereafter. A lengthy discussion took place which can be found on the PUC website under Commission Actions, Commission Meeting Archives, 2011, September 13, 2011, recording located at: http://www.puc.sd.gov/Archives/2011/default.aspx.

     Commissioner Hanson moved to approve Verizon Wireless's Motion to Withdraw.  Motion carried 3-0.

Commissioner Hanson stated that Dockets in Telecommunications Item 2 would be heard separately with one motion, unless a Docket would require a separate motion.

1.     In the Matter of the Request for Certification Regarding the Use of Federal Universal Service Support in Dockets TC11-029, TC11-037, TC11-039, TC11-046, TC11-047, TC11-048, TC11-054, TC11-056,  TC11-063, TC11-062, TC11-065 and TC11-066. 

     TC11-029     In the Matter of the Request of Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Telephone Authority for Certification Regarding its Use of Federal Universal Service Support (Staff Analyst: Dave Jacobson, Staff Attorney: Kara Semmler)

Darla Rogers representing Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe (CRST) stated CRST has responded to all of staff's requests and asked the Commission to grant certification.  Dave Jacobson, staff analyst, recommended granting certification. 

     TC11-037     In the Matter of the Request of Long Lines Wireless, LLC for Certification Regarding its Use of Federal Universal Service Support (Staff Analyst: Dave Jacobson, Staff Attorney: Kara Semmler)

Gregory Hart, Long Line Wireless, LLC. (Long Lines), stated Long Lines has responded to staff follow up request and asked the Commission grant certification. Dave Jacobson, staff analyst stated the docket is related to a pending relinquishment and recommended granting certification. 

     TC11-039     In the Matter of the Request of Roberts County Telephone Cooperative Association and RC Communications, Inc. for Certification Regarding its Use of Federal Universal Service Support (Staff Analyst: Dave Jacobson, Staff Attorney: Kara Semmler)

Darla Rogers, Roberts County Telephone Cooperative Association and RC Communications, Inc. (Roberts County), stated Roberts County and RC Communications has responded to all of staff's requests and asked the Commission grant certification. Dave Jacobson, staff analyst, recommended granting certification. 

     TC11-046     In the Matter of the Request of Santel Communications Cooperative for Certification Regarding its Use of Federal Universal Service Support (Staff Analyst: Dave Jacobson, Staff Attorney: Kara Semmler)

Jeff Larson, Santel Communications Cooperative (Santel), stated Santel has responded to all of Staff's requests and asked the Commission to grant certification.  Dave Jacobson, staff analyst, recommended granting certification. 

     TC11-047     In the Matter of the Request of Knology of the Black Hills, LLC for Certification Regarding its Use of Federal Universal Service Support (Staff Analyst: Dave Jacobson, Staff Attorney: Kara Semmler)

Felix Boccucci, Knology of the Black Hills, LLC (Knology), stated Knology has responded to Staff's requests and asked the Commission to grant certification. Dave Jacobson, staff analyst, recommended granting certification.  

     TC11-048     In the Matter of the Request of Knology Community Telephone, Inc. for Certification Regarding its Use of Federal Universal Service Support (Staff Analyst: Dave Jacobson, Staff Attorney: Kara Semmler)

Felix Boccucci, Knology Community Telephone, Inc. (Knology), stated Knology has responded to Staff's requests and asked the Commission to grant certification. Dave Jacobson, staff analyst, recommended granting certification. 

     TC11-054     In the Matter of the Request of Midcontinent Communications for Certification Regarding its Use of Federal Universal Service Support (Staff Analyst: Bobbi Bourk, Staff Attorney: Kara Semmler)

Kathy Ford, representing Midcontinent Communications (Midcontinent), stated Midcontinent has responded to Staff's requests and asked the Commission to grant certification. Bobbi Bourk, staff analyst, recommended granting certification. 

     TC11-056     In the Matter of the Request of James Valley Wireless, LLC for Certification Regarding its Use of Federal Universal Service Support (Staff Analyst: Dave Jacobson, Staff Attorney: Kara Semmler)

Jim Cremer, representing James Valley Wireless, LLC (James Valley), stated James Valley has responded to Staff's requests and asked the Commission to grant certification. Dave Jacobson, staff analyst, recommended granting certification. 

Commissioner Hanson stated that Dockets TC11-062, TC11-063, and TC11-066 would be heard together after the completion of Telecommunications Item 2.

     TC11-062     In the Matter of the Request of RCC Minnesota, Inc. dba Verizon Wireless for Certification Regarding its Use of Federal Universal Service Support (Staff Analyst: Chris Daugaard, Staff Attorney: Kara Semmler)

Steve Otto, RCC Minnesota, Inc. dba Verizon Wireless of RCC Minnesota, Inc., stated RCC has responded to Staff's requests and asked the Commission to grant certification. Chris Daugaard, staff analyst, recommended granting certification.  Further discussion regarding dockets TC11-062, TC11-063, and TC10-090 was held in confidential session.

     Commissioner Hanson moved to approve Certification to the Federal Communications Commission and to the Universal Service Administration Company regarding the Plan for the Use of Federal Universal Services Support. Motion carried 3-0. 

     TC11-063     In the Matter of the Request of WWC License LLC dba Verizon Wireless for Certification Regarding its Use of Federal Universal Service Support (Staff Analyst: Brian Rounds, Staff Attorney: Kara Semmler)

Matt Slaven, representing WWC License LLC d/b/a Verizon Wireless, stated WWC has responded to Staff's requests and asked the Commission to grant certification. Kara Semmler, staff attorney, recommended granting certification pursuant to the conditions in Staff's memorandum. Rich Coit, South Dakota Telecommunications Association (SDTA), stated SDTA does not object to the Commission dismissing TC10-090 or granting ETC status.

     Commissioner Hanson moved to provide a Certification to the Federal Communications Commission and to the Universal Service Administration Company regarding the Plan for the Use of federal Universal Services Support with the conditions recommended by Staff.  Motion carried 3-0.

     TC11-065     In the Matter of the Request of City of Brookings Municipal Telephone for Certification Regarding its Use of Federal Universal Service Support (Staff Analyst: Dave Jacobson, Staff Attorney: Kara Semmler)

Steve Meyer, City of Brookings Municipal Telephone (Brookings Municipal Telephone), stated Brookings Municipal Telephone has responded to Staff's requests and asked the Commission to grant certifications.  Dave Jacobson, staff analyst, recommended granting certification. 

Commissioner Nelson moved to provide in Dockets TC11-029, TC11-037, TC11-039, TC11-046, TC11-047, TC11-048, TC11-054, TC11-056, and TC11-065 a Certification to the Federal Communications Commission and to the Universal Service Administration Company regarding the Plan for the Use of Federal Universal Services Support with the conditions recommended by staff. Motion carried 3-0.

     TC11-066     In the Matter of the Request of Brookings Municipal Telephone dba Swiftel Communications for Certification Regarding its Use of Federal Universal Service Support (Staff Analyst: Chris Daugaard, Staff Attorney: Kara Semmler)

Steve Meyer, Brookings Municipal Telephone dba Swiftel Communications (Swiftel), stated Swiftel has responded to Staff's requests and asked the Commission to grant certification.  Chris Daugaard, staff analyst, recommended granting certification. 

     Commissioner Nelson moved to provide a Certification to the Federal Communications Commission and to the Universal Service Administration Company regarding the Plan for the Use of Federal Universal Services SupportMotion carried 3-0.

3.     TC11-052     In the Matter of the Request of Qwest Corporation for Certification Regarding its Use of Federal Universal Service Support (Staff Analyst: Dave Jacobson, Staff Attorney: Kara Semmler)

Jason Topp, Century Link, stated Century Link has responded to Staff's requests and asked the Commission to grant certifications.  Dave Jacobson, staff analyst, recommended granting certification. 

     Commissioner Nelson moved to provide a Certification to the Federal Communications Commission and to the Universal Service Administration Company regarding the Plan for the Use of federal Universal Services Support and Certification that Qwest is offering Rates comparable to other carriers.  Motion carried 3-0.

There being no further business, at the hour of 11:22 a.m., the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission meeting adjourned. The next Commission meeting is scheduled for September 27, 2011.

 

/S/Demaris Axthelm
Demaris Axthelm
Administrative Secretary
puc@state.sd.us
September 13, 2011