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South Dakota Public Utilities Commission Meeting
December 6, 2011, at 9:30 A.M. CST
Room 412, Location Change, Room 414, 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: Karen Cremer, Kara Semmler, and Ryan Soye; Staff Analysts: Dave Jacobson, Chris Daugaard, Brian Rounds, Matthew Tysdal, Brittany Mehlhaff, Ross Pedersen, Jon Thurber, Jim Mehlhaff, and Bobbi Bourk; and Staff: Demaris Axthelm

Also present were: Jim Wilcox, Northern States Power Company dba Xcel Energy; Rich Coit, South Dakota Telecommunications Association; Mark Benton, Midstate Communications, Inc.; Jeff Mehlhaff, South Dakota Municipal Electric Association; Darla Rogers and Margo Northrup, Riter, Rogers, Wattier, and Northrup LLP, representing East River Electric, Midstate Telecommunications, South Dakota Rural Electric Association, and Fort Randall Telephone Company; Pam Bonrud, Northwestern Energy; Bill Van Camp, Olinger, Lovald, McCahren, and Reimers, P.C., representing AT&T Communications of the Midwest, Inc.

Joining the meeting by telephone were: Talbot Wieczorek, Gunderson, Palmer, Nelson & Ashmore, LLC, representing Sprint Communications Company LP; Chris Madsen, and Tom Welk, LLP, representing Qwest Corporation dba Century Link, QC; Dustin Thompson, Henry Graef, and Carolyn Guelich, Syngenta Seeds, Inc.; Tom Lundborg, Lake Region Electric Association; Kevin Kouba, Ron Spangler, and Kerry Kasemen, Otter Tail Power Company; Sara Dannen, NorthWestern Energy; Jennifer Moore and Gretta Knight, MidAmerican Energy Company; Bruce Hanson, Fort Randall Telephone Company; Scott Swier, Swier Law Firm, representing Wide Voice, L.L.C.; and Meredith Moore, Cutler & Donahoe, LLP representing Interstate Telecommunications Cooperative, Inc.

Administration

1.     Approval of the Minutes of the Commission Meeting Held on November 22, 2011. (Staff: Joy Irving)
  
     Commissioner Nelson moved to approve the minutes of the Commission Meeting held on November 22, 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 59 contacts since the last report was prepared for the November 22, 2011 Commission meeting.

9 of the contacts involved telecommunication services, 9 of the contacts involved electrical services, 8 contacts involved natural gas service, 5 contacts involved cell phone service, 18 contacts were related to the Do Not Call Registry, and 5 contacts were related to issues not regulated by the PUC.

2,606 of the 2,626 complaints received in 2011 have been resolved.

Electric

1.       EL11-023       In the Matter of the Petition of Northern States Power Company d/b/a Xcel Energy for Approval of a Credit Mechanism for a Department of Energy Settlement Payment Along with Deferred Accounting and Approval to Depart from Its Fuel Clause Tariff, as Necessary (Staff Analyst: Jon Thurber, Staff Attorney: Karen Cremer) 

Mr. Jim Wilcox, NorthWestern Energy, requested Commission approval to defer accounting treatment of settlement proceeds received from the Department of Energy due to a contract breach. Mr. Jon Thurber, staff analyst, recommended approval of deferred accounting treatment of the 2011 settlement proceeds, noting the recommendation is for current proceeds only.

       Commissioner Fiegen moved to grant approval for deferred accounting treatment of the settlements proceedings for the current year.  Motion Carried 3-0.
        

2.       EL11-027       In the Matter of the Joint Request for an Electric Service Rights Exception between Lake Region Electric Association and Otter Tail Power Company (Staff Analyst: Ross Pedersen, Staff Attorney: Ryan Soye)

Mr. Kevin Kouba, Otter Tail, and Tom Lundborg, Lake Region, asked the Commission to approve the joint request for an electric service rights exception between Lake Region and Otter Tail. Mr. Ryan Soye, staff attorney, stated that staff recommends approval.
        
       Commissioner Nelson moved to grant the joint request for territory exception. Motion Carried 3-0.

Grain

1.       GW11-002       In the Matter of the Filing by Syngenta Seeds, Inc., for the Approval of a Waiver of ARSD 20:10:12:14 (Staff Analyst: Jim Mehlhaff, Staff Attorney: Kara Semmler)

Mr. Dustin Thompson, Syngenta Seeds, Inc., requested that the Commission grant a waiver, under ARSD 20:10:12:17, of the requirement of ARSD 20:10:12:14 to file subsidiary level audited or reviewed financial statements. Mr. Thompson further explained that Syngenta would provide either a letter of credit or bond in the amount of $2,500,000.00 in addition to the bond required by SDCL 49-45-9. Jim Mehlhaff, staff analyst, recommended approval that of the Syngenta's proposal.

     Commissioner Fiegen moved to grant Syngenta Seeds, Inc.'s request for subject to review and approval of the bond or letter of credit by commission counsel. Motion Carried 3-0.        

Pipeline Safety

1.     PS11-001     In the Matter of the Petition for Declaratory Ruling of the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission regarding 49 CFR 192.3 (Staff Analysts: Nathan Solem, Joshua Williams, Staff Attorney: Kara Semmler)

Ms. Sara Dannen, NorthWestern Energy, requested the Commission to grant intervention. Ms. Kara Semmler, staff attorney, supported the request to intervene.
        
     Commissioner Nelson moved to grant intervention to NorthWestern. Motion Carried 3-0.

Natural Gas

1.     NG11-007     In the Matter of the Filing by Minnesota Energy Resource Corporation for Approval of a Refund Plan (Staff Analyst: Dave Jacobson, Staff Attorney: Karen Cremer) 

Mr. David Jacobson, staff analyst, requested the Commission grant approval of a refund plan related to an pipeline ad valorem tax refund and purchased gas adjustment true-up with less than 30 days' notice using a FERC interest rate in this case only.

     Commissioner Nelson moved to grant approval for the refund plan with less than 30 days' provided that the FERC interest rate is not to be construed as applicable to any other proceeding unless specifically approved by the Commission. Motion Carried 3-0.

Rule Making

1.     RM11-001     In the Matter of the Adoption of Rules Regarding Renewable Energy Credits and Renewable, Recycled and Conserved Energy; Gas and Electric Customer Billing; ARSD 20:10:22:05; and ARSD 20:10:36:02(Commission Counsel: Rolayne Ailts Wiest)  

Based on the comments, Staff recommended the following changes: 1) as requested by NorthWestern, revise 20:10:17:09.01 and in the second sentence change "may be billed" to "may pay"; 2) as requested by East River Electric and SDREA, add in references to "high energy use" in the definition of demand response found in 20:10:38:01(2); 3) as requested by SDREA, add an additional sentence to 20:10:38:02 regarding the aggregation of conserved energy. The additional sentence is: "Municipal and cooperative retail providers may aggregate the conserved energy with their wholesale municipal power agency or generation and transmission cooperative suppliers."; 4) make the style and form changes as requested by LRC. Staff noted that LRC had asked a question regarding 20:10:17:09 as to whether the last sentence of 20:10:17:06 and 20:10:17:07 should be added to 20:10:17:09. Staff stated that this sentence should not be added because that last sentence applies to testing for meter errors and the types of errors in 20:10:17:09 do not regard the testing of meters.

     Commissioner Nelson moved to accept Staff's recommended changes and approve the rules with those changes. Commissioner Nelson then moved to amend the motion and add two additional changes. The additional changes are: 1) as requested by Xcel, for 20:10:38:03, specify that the appropriate periodic interval as referenced in the rule is "no more frequent than once every three years"; 2) as requested by MidAmerican, limit the reporting requirement to those providers that retire renewable energy credits to meet the renewable objective and add "to meet the renewable, recycled, and conserved energy objective" after the word "credits" in the first sentence of 20:10:38:07. The Commission unanimously voted to amend the motion to make both of the changes. The Commission then unanimously voted to approve the motion.

TC11-075 and TC11-077 were heard together.

Telecommunications

1.     TC11-075     In the Matter of the Filing by Midstate Telecom, Inc. for Approval of its Intrastate Switched Access Tariff and for a Phase-In Period (Staff Analyst: Brian Rounds, Staff Attorney: Karen Cremer)

2.     TC11-077     In the Matter of the Establishment of Switched Access Revenue Requirement for Fort Randall Telephone Company (Staff Analyst: Chris Daugaard, Staff Attorney: Karen Cremer)

Ms. Darla Rogers, asked the Commission to defer action on the dockets.

     Commissioner Chris Nelson moved to defer dockets TC11-075 and TC11-077 to January 17, 2012. Motion Carried 3-0

3.     TC11-088     In the Matter of the Application of Wide Voice, L.L.C. for a Certificate of Authority to Provide Local Exchange Services in South Dakota (Staff Analyst: Jon Thurber, Staff Attorney: Karen Cremer) 

Mr. Chris Madsen, on behalf of CenturyLink, Mr. Talbot Wieczorek, on behalf of Sprint, and Mr. Bill Van Camp, on behalf of AT&T, requested the Commission grant intervention. Ms. Karen Cremer, staff attorney, stated the petitions to intervene should be granted.
        
     Commissioner Fiegen moved to grant Intervention to AT&T, Sprint, and CenturyLink. Motion Carried 3-0.

4.     TC11-089     In the Matter of the Filing by Interstate Telecommunications Cooperative, Inc. for Approval of Establishment of Rate Center (Staff Analyst: Brittany Mehlhaff, Staff Attorney: Karen Cremer) 

Ms. Meredith Moore, representing Interstate Telecommunications Cooperative (ITC), requested the Commission establish a new rate center for that portion of the Brookings exchange served by ITC. Ms. Brittany Mehlhaff, staff analyst, stated staff recommended approval.

     Commissioner Nelson moved to grant approval to ITC's request to create a separate rate center for that portion of the Brookings exchange served by ITC.  Motion Carried 3-0.

There being no further business, at the hour of 10:54 a.m., the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission meeting adjourned. The next Commission meeting is scheduled for December 20, 2011.

 

/S/Joy Irving
Joy Irving
Administrative Assistant
puc@state.sd.us
December 6, 2011