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South Dakota Public Utilities Commission Meeting
November 21, 2017, at 9:30 A.M. CST
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 Attorney: Amanda Reiss; Staff Analysts: Darren Kearney, Patrick Steffensen, Joseph Rezac, Brittany Mehlhaff and Lorena Reichert; Consumer Affairs Supervisor: Deb Gregg; Finance Manager: Cindy Kemnitz; and Staff: Katlyn Gustafson.

Present were:
Steve Kolbeck, Northern States Power Company dba Xcel Energy; Pat Landess and Matt Heck, Scout Clean Energy; Mollie Smith, Fredrickson & Byron, P.A., representing Sweetland Wind Farm, LLC; and Darla Rogers, Riter, Rogers, Wattier & Northrup, LLP, representing South Dakota Network, LLC and Valley Communications Cooperative Association, Inc.

Joining the meeting by telephone were:
Kristen Edwards and Eric Paulson, PUC Staff; Rebecca Eilers, Northern States Power Company dba Xcel Energy; Gina Ice, Otter Tail Power Company; Michael Rucker, Scout Clean Energy; Miles Schumacher, Lynn, Jackson, Shultz and Lebrun, PC, representing Crowned Ridge Wind, LLC; Jason Sutton and Tom Welk, Boyce Law Firm, LLP, representing Otter Tail Power Company; Bill Swanson, Otter Tail Power Company; Erin Stitz, Jason Keil, Todd Brink and Jim Dillon, Black Hills Power, Inc. dba Black Hills Energy; Andrea Livingston, Midcontinent Communications, Inc.; Jeff Decker, NorthWestern Energy Corporation dba NorthWestern Energy.

Administration

1.     Approval of the minutes of the ad hoc Commission meeting held on October 25, 2017. (Staff: Joy Lashley)

     Commissioner Nelson moved to approve the minutes of the ad hoc Commission meeting held on October 25, 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 47 contacts since the last report was prepared for the November 7, 2017, Commission meeting.

Seven contacts involved telecommunication services, 14 contacts involved electrical services, eight contacts were related to natural gas services, four contacts were related to wireless service, two contacts were related to the Do Not Call Registry, two contacts were related to Wind Energy and ten 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: 1,482 of the 1,497 have been resolved.

Electric

1.     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)

Ms. Rebecca Eilers, Northern States Power Company dba Xcel Energy (Xcel), asked that the Commission approve the TCR rate factor and updated tariff sheet with an effective date of January 1, 2018. Mr. Patrick Steffensen, staff analyst, recommended that the Commission approve Xcel’s request.

     Commissioner Hanson moved to approve the TCR rate factor and updated tariff sheet with an effective date of January 1, 2018. Motion carried 3-0.

2.     EL17-045     In the Matter of the Application of Black Hills Power, Inc. dba Black Hills Energy for Approval of a Revision to the Energy Efficiency Solutions Adjustment Rates (Staff Analysts: Darren Kearney, Joseph Rezac; Staff Attorney: Amanda Reiss)

Mr. Jason Keil, Black Hills Power, Inc. dba Black Hills Energy (BHE), asked that the Commission approve the Energy Efficiency Solutions Program Status Report for Program Year 2016, approve the balancing account for Program Year 2016, including the performance incentive recovery, approve the Energy Efficiency Solutions Adjustment rates of $0.0003/kWh for residential service and $0.0012/kWh for commercial and industrial services, effective December 1, 2017, and associated tariff sheets. Mr. Darren Kearney, staff analyst, recommended that the Commission approve BHE’s requests.

     Commissioner Nelson moved to approve the Energy Efficiency Solutions Program Status Report for Program Year 2016, approve the balancing account for Program Year 2016, including the performance incentive recovery, approve the Energy Efficiency Solutions Adjustment rates of $0.0003/kWh for residential service and $0.0012/kWh for commercial and industrial services, effective December 1, 2017, and associated tariff sheets.  Motion carried 3-0.

3.     EL17-048     In the Matter of the Petition of Otter Tail Power Company for Approval of the Transmission Cost Recovery Rider Rate (Staff Analysts: Brittany Mehlhaff, Lorena Reichert; Staff Attorney: Amanda Reiss)

Ms. Amanda Reiss, staff attorney, recommended that the Commission assess Otter Tail Power Company (Otter Tail), 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. Ms. Gina Ice, Otter Tail, stated Otter Tail had no objection to staff’s request.

     Commissioner Fiegen 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.     NG17-014     In the Matter of the Filing by NorthWestern Corporation dba NorthWestern Energy for Approval of a Contract with Deviations (Staff Analysts: Patrick Steffensen, Eric Paulson; Staff Attorney: Amanda Reiss)

Mr. Jeff Decker, NorthWestern Energy Corporation dba NorthWestern Energy (NorthWestern), asked that the Commission approve the Contract with Deviations and the associated tariff revisions with an effective date of December 1, 2017. Mr. Patrick Steffensen, staff analyst, recommended that the Commission approve NorthWestern’s request.

     Commissioner Nelson moved to approve the Contract with Deviations and the associated tariff revisions with an effective date of December 1, 2017. Motion carried 3-0.

2.     NG17-015     In the Matter of the Filing by NorthWestern Corporation dba NorthWestern Energy for Approval of its Refund Plan regarding its Recovery of Manufactured Gas Plant Site Remediation Costs (Staff Analysts: Brittany Mehlhaff, Eric Paulson; Staff Attorney: Amanda Reiss)

Mr. Jeff Decker, NorthWestern Energy Corporation dba NorthWestern Energy (NorthWestern), asked that the Commission approve NorthWestern’s Refund Plan regarding its Recovery of Manufactured Gas Plant Site Remediation Costs with an effective date of December 1, 2017. Ms. Brittany Mehlhaff, staff analyst, recommended that the Commission approve NorthWestern’s request.

      Commissioner Hanson moved to approve NorthWestern’s Refund Plan regarding its Recovery of Manufactured Gas Plant Site Remediation Costs with an effective date of December 1, 2017. Motion carried 3-0.

Telecommunications

1.     In the Matter of the Failure of Certain Telecommunications Companies to Timely Pay their Gross Receipts Tax (Finance Manager: Cindy Kemnitz)

Ms. Cindy Kemnitz, Finance Manager, requested that the Commission issue an Order to Show Cause to the below companies, for failure to timely pay their gross receipts tax as required by SDCL 49-1A.

Long Distance Providers:
Business Discount Plan Inc.
CSDVRS LLC
iNetworks Group Inc.
NECC Telecom Inc.

VoIP Provider:
Telnyx

Wireless Providers:
Patriot Mobile LLC
Tempo Telecom LLC

     Commissioner Hanson moved to issue an Order to Show Cause to the above companies as to why the Commission should not fine, and/or suspend or revoke the Certificates of Authority of each of these companies for failure to pay the requisite gross receipts tax. Motion carried 3-0.

2.     TC17-063     In the Matter of the Petition for a Declaratory Ruling by Department of Public Safety/911 Coordination Board regarding Determining Responsibility for Rural Carrier Interconnection to the Next Generation 9-1-1 System (Staff Analysts: Joseph Rezac, Patrick Steffensen; Staff Attorneys: Kristen Edwards, Amanda Reiss)

Ms. Darla Rogers, Riter, Rogers, Wattier & Northrup, LLP, representing South Dakota Network, LLC (SDN), asked that the Commission grant intervention to SDN. Ms. Amanda Reiss, staff attorney, stated staff has no objection to SDN’s request.

     Commissioner Feigen moved to grant intervention to any parties that may have filed. Motion carried 3-0.

3.     TC17-064     In the Matter of the Approval of a Wireline Interconnection Agreement between Midcontinent Communications, Inc. and Valley Communications Cooperative Association, Inc. (Staff Analyst: Joseph Rezac; Staff Attorney: Amanda Reiss)

Ms. Andrea Livingston, Midcontinent Communications, Inc. (Midcontinent), asked that the Commission approve the interconnection agreement between Midcontinent and Valley Communications Cooperative Association, Inc. (Valley Communications). Ms. Darla Rogers, Riter, Rogers, Wattier & Northrup, LLP, representing Valley Communications, stated Valley Communications agreed to the request. Ms. Amanda Reiss, staff attorney, stated that the agreement was properly filed, properly executed, and does not appear to contain discriminatory provisions, and no comments were filed. Ms. Reiss recommended that the Commission grant approval

     Commissioner Hanson moved to approve the Interconnection Agreement. Motion carried 3-0.

ADDENDUM TO THE
AGENDA OF COMMISSION MEETING

1.     EL17-042     In the Matter of the Application of Otter Tail Power Company for an Energy Conversion Facility Permit for the Construction of a Combustion Turbine Generator and Associated Infrastructure Including a Natural Gas Pipeline and Electric Transmission Line near Astoria, South Dakota (Staff Analysts: Jon Thurber, Darren Kearney; Staff Attorneys: Kristen Edwards, Amanda Reiss)

Mr. Tom Welk, Boyce Law Firm, LLP, representing Otter Tail Power Company (Otter Tail), asked that the Commission approve Otter Tail’s Motion for Finding of Substantial Compliance with Publication Notice Requirement and Motion for Judicial Notice. Ms. Amanda Reiss, staff attorney, stated staff supports Otter Tail’s requests.

     Commissioner Nelson moved to grant the Motion for Judicial Notice and the Motion for Finding of Substantial Compliance with Publication Notice Requirement. Motion carried 3-0.

2.     EL17-047     In the Matter of the Application of Crowned Ridge Wind, LLC for a Facility Permit to Construct a 230-kV Transmission Line and Associated Facilities from Codington County to the Big Stone South Substation (Staff Analysts: Darren Kearney, Jon Thurber; Staff Attorneys: Kristen Edwards, Amanda Reiss)

Mr. Miles Sc humacher, Lynn, Jackson, Shultz and Lebrun, PC, representing Crowned Ridge Wind, LLC (Crowned Ridge), asked that the Commission approve Crown Ridge’s request for consent to withdraw its application without prejudice and dismiss and close the docket. Ms. Amanda Reiss, staff attorney, stated staff had no objection to Crown Ridge’s requests.

     Commissioner Nelson moved to grant Crowned Ridge’s Request for Consent to Withdraw Application and close the docket. Motion carried 3-0.

Items for Commission Discussion

2017 Info EL9 Notification of Sweetland Wind Farm, LLC regarding Sweetland Wind Farm in Hand County, South Dakota

In order to qualify the Sweetland Wind Farm for the full federal Production Tax Credit (PTC), Sweetland Wind Farm, LLC (Sweetland) contracted with a third party to excavate three planned turbine foundation sites and to construct approximately 2,300 linear feet of 14-foot-wide access road between the three excavations. At the time of undertaking the PTC-qualification work, Sweetland representatives stated they were was not aware that an energy facility permit from the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission (Commission) was required before conducting such work. Sweetland representatives met with PUC staff after learning of the oversight, and requested an opportunity to inform the Commission of the situation
     
Commissioners, Staff, and representatives from Sweetland Wind Farm, LLC (Sweetland) engaged in a lengthy discussion regarding this matter. An audio of the discussion can be found on the PUC website under Commission Actions, Commission Meeting Archives, 2017, November 21, 2017, recording located at: http://puc.sd.gov/commission/media/2017/puc11212017.mp3. The Commission requested Commission Staff send the information related to this issue to the Hand County State’s Attorney for review. 

There being no further business, at the hour of 10:38 a.m., the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission meeting adjourned.

/s/Joy Lashley     .
Joy Lashley
Administrative Assistant
PUC Email
November 21, 2017