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South Dakota Public Utilities Commission Meeting
September 12, 2017, at 9:30 A.M. CDT
Room 413, Capitol Building
Pierre, South Dakota

MINUTES OF THE COMMISSION MEETING

Chairperson Kristie Fiegen called the meeting to order. Present were: Commissioners: Gary Hanson and Chris Nelson; Commission Attorneys: Karen Cremer and Adam de Hueck; Commission Advisor: Greg Rislov; Staff Attorneys: Amanda Reiss and Kristen Edwards; Staff Analysts: Darren Kearney, Jon Thurber, Patrick Steffensen, Eric Paulson, Joseph Rezac, and Lorena Reichert; Consumer Affairs Supervisor: Deb Gregg; and Staff: Katlyn Gustafson.

Present were:
Rich Coit, South Dakota Telecommunications Association; Bruce Hanson, Fort Randall Telephone Company; Brian Rounds, AESL Consulting; Steve Kolbeck, Amanda Rome and Chris Shaw, Northern States Power Company dba Xcel Energy; Brett Koenecke, May, Adam, Gerdes & Thompson LLP, representing Montana-Dakota Utilities Co. and Geronimo Energy; Jim Gleason and Weldon Feightner, Clarity Telecom, LLC dba Vast Broadband; Bob Riter, Riter, Rogers, Wattier & Northrup, LLP, representing Clarity Telecom and Venture Communications Cooperative.

Joining the meeting by telephone were:
Mary Zanter, PUC Pipeline Safety Manager; Kavita Maini, PUC Staff; Paul Bergmann, Jefferson Telephone Company; Jon Boike, JSI representing Clarity Telecom, LLC dba Vast Broadband; Steve Meyer, Laura Julius and Curt Kabris, Brookings Municipal Telephone dba Swiftel Communications; Brian Rybarik, Adam Wright and Diane Votino, MidAmerican Energy Company; Mary Sisak, Blooston, Mordkofsky, Dickens, Duffy & Prendergast, LLP, representing City of Brookings Municipal Telephone and Brookings Municipal Telephone dba Swiftel Communications; Pat Bollman, Jody Londo, Adam Burnoski and Lorilee Krings, Northern States Power Company dba Xcel Energy; Stephanie Bosch and Tamie Aberle, Montana-Dakota Utilities Co.; Rich Helsper, Helsper, McCarty, Rasmussen, P.C., representing City of Brookings Municipal Telephone; Pam Bonrud, NorthWestern Corporation dba NorthWestern Energy; Janelle Jessen, Venture Communications Cooperative; and Jason Topp, Qwest Corporation dba CenturyLink QC.

(NOTE: For the purpose of continuity, these minutes are not necessarily in chronological order.)

Administration

1.     Approval of the minutes of the Commission meetings held on August 15 and August 29, 2017. (Staff: Joy Lashley)

     Commissioner Nelson moved to approve the minutes of the Commission meetings held on August 15 and August 29, 2017. 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 73 contacts since the last report was prepared for the August 29, 2017, Commission meeting.

Eight contacts involved telecommunication services, 16 contacts involved electrical services, three contacts were related to natural gas services, four contacts were related to wireless service, 15 contacts were related to the Do Not Call Registry, nine contacts were related to Wind Energy, one contact was related to the Dakota Access Pipeline, three contacts were related to One Call and 14 contacts were related to issues not regulated by the PUC.

Complaints received in 2014:1,914 of the 1,916 have been resolved.

Complaints received in 2017: 1,187 of the 1,215 have been resolved.

Electric

1.     EL16-037     In the Matter of Commission Staff’s Request to Investigate Northern States Power Company dba Xcel Energy’s Proposed Fuel Clause Rider (Staff Analysts: Jon Thurber, Brittany Mehlhaff; Staff Attorney: Kristen Edwards)

A lengthy discussion took place regarding docket EL16-037. An audio of the discussion can be found on the PUC website under Commission Actions, Commission Meeting Archives, 2017, September 12, 2017, recording located at: http://puc.sd.gov/commission/media/2017/puc09122017.mp3.

     Commissioner Fiegen moved to grant the Joint Motion for Approval of Settlement Stipulation and adopt the Stipulation without modification, with an FCR effective date of October 1, 2017, require Xcel to file (1) a compliance filing that provides the amount that customers will be refunded associated with the Aurora project proxy pricing back to December 1, 2016; and (2) a docket with a proposal to mitigate the potential FCR rate volatility associated with the unrecovered amount in the balancing account. Motion carried 3-0.

2.     EL17-029     In the Matter of the Petition of Northern States Power Company dba Xcel Energy for Approval of Tariff Revisions Regarding Changes to Bill Forms and Bill Backs (Staff Analysts: Darren Kearney, Joseph Rezac; Staff Attorney: Amanda Reiss)

A lengthy discussion took place regarding docket EL17-029. An audio of the discussion can be found on the PUC website under Commission Actions, Commission Meeting Archives, 2017, September 12, 2017, recording located at: http://puc.sd.gov/commission/media/2017/puc09122017.mp3.

     Commissioner Hanson moved to approve the proposed tariff revisions. Motion carried 2-1. Chairperson Fiegen dissenting.

3.     EL17-030     In the Matter of the Filing by Northern States Power Company dba Xcel Energy for Approval of Revised Welcome Brochures (Staff Analysts: Darren Kearney, Joseph Rezac; Staff Attorney: Amanda Reiss)

Chairperson Fiegen deferred EL17-030 until the next Commission meeting.

4.     EL17-035     In the Matter of the Petition of Otter Tail Power Company for Approval of the Environmental Cost Recovery Rider Charge(Staff Analysts: Eric Paulson, Joseph Rezac; Staff Attorney: Amanda Reiss)

Ms. Amanda Reiss, staff attorney, recommended that the Commission assess Otter Tail Power Company, a filing fee in the amount of up to $50,000 to account for actual expenses incurred in review of this filing commencing from the filing date.

     Commissioner Nelson moved to assess a filing fee in the amount of up to $50,000 to account for actual expenses incurred in review of this filing commencing from the filing date. Motion carried 3-0.

5.     EL17-036     In the Matter of the Petition of Northern States Power Company dba Xcel Energy for Approval of its 2018 Transmission Cost Recovery Eligibility and Rate Adjustment(Staff Analysts: Patrick Steffensen, Lorena Reichert; Staff Attorney: Kristen Edwards)

Mr. Steve Kolbeck, Northern States Power Company dba Xcel Energy (Xcel), stated Xcel had no objection to the filing fee. Ms. Kristen Edwards, staff attorney, recommended that the Commission assess Xcel a filing fee in the amount of up to $50,000 to account for actual expenses incurred in review of this filing commencing from the filing date.

     Commissioner Hanson moved to assess a filing fee in the amount of up to $50,000 to account for actual expenses incurred in review of this filing commencing from the filing date. Motion carried 3-0.

Natural Gas

1.     NG17-010      In the Matter of the Application by Montana-Dakota Utilities Co. for Approval of its Revised Transportation Service Rates 81 and 82 and Gas Transportation Agreement (Staff Analyst: Eric Paulson; Staff Attorney: Amanda Reiss)

Ms. Stephanie Bosch, Montana-Dakota Utilities Co. (MDU), asked that the Commission approve the Revised Transportation Service Rates 81 and 82 and Gas Transportation Agreement effective on November 1, 2017. Mr. Eric Paulson, staff analyst, recommended that the Commission approve MDU’s request.

     Commissioner Nelson moved to approve the Revised Transportation Service Rates 81 and 82 and Gas Transportation Agreement effective November 1, 2017. Motion carried 3-0.

2.     NG17-011      In the Matter of the Filing by MidAmerican Energy Company for Approval of Tariff Revisions regarding Farm Tap Service (Staff Analysts: Brittany Mehlhaff, Mary Zanter, Patrick Steffensen; Staff Attorneys: Kristen Edwards, Amanda Reiss)

Mr. Brian Rybarik, MidAmerican Energy Company (MidAmerican), asked that the Commission approve the contract identifying responsibility for payment for the customer share of the safety checks as well as any repairs that may be necessary on the customer-owned facilities performed by MidAmerican. Ms. Kristen Edwards, staff attorney, recommended that the Commission approve MidAmerican’s request.

     Commissioner Nelson moved to approve the contract identifying responsibility for payment for the customer share of the safety checks as well as any repairs that may be necessary on the customer-owned facilities performed by MidAmerican. Motion carried 3-0.

Telecommunications

1.     In the Matter of Request for Certification Regarding the Use of Federal Universal Service Support in Dockets TC17-033, TC17-038, TC17-048, TC17-049, TC17-052 and TC17-054.
     
     TC17-033     In the Matter of the Request of Qwest Corporation dba CenturyLink QC Study Area: 395145 for Certification Regarding its Use of Federal Universal Service Support (Staff Analyst: Joseph Rezac; Staff Attorney: Kristen Edwards)

Mr. Jason Topp, Qwest Corporation dba CenturyLink QC, asked that the Commission provide certification to the Federal Communications Commission and to the USAC regarding the proper use of federal universal service support. Mr. Joseph Rezac, staff analyst, recommended that the Commission grant the Company’s request.

     TC17-038     In the Matter of the Request of Fort Randall Telephone Company and Mount Rushmore Telephone Study Area: 391660 for Certification Regarding its Use of Federal Universal Service Support (Staff Analyst: Joseph Rezac; Staff Attorney: Kristen Edwards)

A lengthy discussion took place regarding docket TC17-038. An audio of the discussion can be found on the PUC website under Commission Actions, Commission Meeting Archives, 2017, September 12, 2017, recording located at: http://puc.sd.gov/commission/media/2017/puc09122017.mp3.

     TC17-048     In the Matter of the Request of City of Brookings Municipal Telephone Study Area: 391650 for Certification Regarding its Use of Federal Universal Service Support (Staff Analyst: Lorena Reichert; Staff Attorney: Amanda Reiss)

Ms. Mary Sisak, Blooston, Mordkofsky, Dickens, Duffy & Prendergast, LLP, representing City of Brookings Municipal Telephone (Company), asked that the Commission provide certification to the Federal Communications Commission and to the USAC regarding the proper use of federal universal service support. Ms. Lorena Reichert, staff analyst, recommended that the Commission grant the Company’s request.

     TC17-049     In the Matter of the Request of Brookings Municipal Telephone dba Swiftel Communications Study Area: 399009 for Certification Regarding its Use of Federal Universal Service Support (Staff Analyst: Lorena Reichert; Staff Attorney: Amanda Reiss)

Ms. Mary Sisak, Blooston, Mordkofsky, Dickens, Duffy & Prendergast, LLP, representing Brookings Municipal Telephone dba Swiftel Communications (Company), asked that the Commission provide certification to the Federal Communications Commission and to the USAC regarding the proper use of federal universal service support. Ms. Lorena Reichert, staff analyst, recommended that the Commission grant the Company’s request.

     TC17-052     In the Matter of the Request of Venture Communications Cooperative Study Area: Venture Communication Cooperative–391680 and Western Telephone Co.–391688 for Certification Regarding its Use of Federal Universal Service Support (Staff Analyst: Lorena Reichert; Staff Attorney: Amanda Reiss)

Ms. Janelle Jessen, Venture Communications Cooperative and Western Telephone Company (Company), asked that the Commission provide certification to the Federal Communications Commission and to the USAC regarding the proper use of federal universal service support. Ms. Lorena Reichert, staff analyst, recommended that the Commission grant the Company’s request.

     TC17-054     In the Matter of the Request of Jefferson Telephone Company Study Area: 391666 for Certification Regarding Its Use of Federal Universal Service Support (Staff Analyst: Joseph Rezac; Staff Attorney: Amanda Reiss)

Mr. Paul Bergmann, Jefferson Telephone Company (Company), asked that the Commission provide certification to the Federal Communications Commission and to the USAC regarding the proper use of federal universal service support. Mr. Joseph Rezac, staff analyst, recommended that the Commission grant the Company’s request.

     In dockets TC17-033, TC17-038, TC17-048, TC17-049, TC17-052 and TC17-054, Commissioner Hanson moved to provide a certification to the Federal Communications Commission and to the Universal Service Administration Company regarding the use of Federal Universal Service Support. Motion carried 3-0.

2.     TC17-044     In the Matter of the Request of Clarity Telecom, LLC dba Vast Broadband Study Area: ILEC–391652 and CLEC–399006 for Certification Regarding its Use of Federal Universal Service Support (Staff Analyst: Lorena Reichert; Staff Attorney: Kristen Edwards)

A lengthy discussion took place regarding docket TC17-044. An audio of the discussion can be found on the PUC website under Commission Actions, Commission Meeting Archives, 2017, September 12, 2017, recording located at: http://puc.sd.gov/commission/media/2017/puc09122017.mp3.

      Commissioner Hanson moved to provide a certification to the Federal Communications Commission and to the Universal Service Administration Company regarding the use of Federal Universal Service Support for Clarity Telecom, LLC.

      Commissioner Hanson withdrew the motion and the Commission deferred docket TC17-044 until the next Commission meeting.

3.     TC17-061     In the Matter of the Application of City of Brookings Municipal Telephone dba Swiftel Communications for an Amended Certificate of Authority (Staff Analyst: Lorena Reichert; Staff Attorney: Kristen Edwards)

Mr. Rich Helsper, Helsper, McCarty, Rasmussen, P.C., representing City of Brookings Municipal Telephone dba Swiftel Communications (Swiftel), asked that the Commission approve the request for waiver and approve the request for an Amended Certificate of Authority. Ms. Lorena Reichert, staff analyst, recommended that the Commission approve Swiftel’s request.

     Commissioner Hanson moved to approve the request for waiver and approve the request for an Amended Certificate of Authority. Motion carried 3-0.

There being no further business, at the hour of 11:17 a.m., the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission meeting adjourned.

/s/Joy Lashley     .
Joy Lashley
Administrative Assistant
PUC Email
September 12, 2017