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South Dakota Public Utilities Commission Meeting
December 19, 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 Attorneys: Kristen Edwards and Amanda Reiss; Staff Analysts: Darren Kearney, Eric Paulson, Joseph Rezac, Brittany Mehlhaff, Jon Thurber and Lorena Reichert; and Staff: Katlyn Gustafson and Joy Lashley.

Present were:
Rich Coit, South Dakota Telecommunications Association; Bob Mercer, reporter; William Taylor, Taylor Law Firm, LLC, representing Consolidated Edison Development, Inc.; Brian Rounds, AESL Consulting; Steve Kolbeck and Laura McCarten, Northern States Power Company dba Xcel Energy; and Corey Juhl, Consolidated Edison Development, Inc.

Joining the meeting by telephone were:
Mary Zanter, Pipeline Safety Manager; Al Brogan, Jon Oostra and Tim Olson, NorthWestern Energy Corporation dba NorthWestern Energy; Miles Schumacher, Lynn, Jackson, Shultz and Lebrun, PC, representing Crowned Ridge Wind, LLC; Peter Batchelor and Patrick Hardy, Bluebird Communications SD LLC; Chuck Rea, Dan Miller, Tom Speketer, Brian Rybarik and Adam Wright, MidAmerican Energy Company; Tamie Aberle, Stephanie Bosch, Jordan Hatzenbuhler, Larry Oswald and Kathy Baerlocher, Montana-Dakota Utilities Co.; Mary Morrison, Howard Hoffman, Jessica Peterson, Chris Shaw, Rebecca Eilers, Amanda Rome, Tom Kramer, Eric Pauli and Joe Anderson, Northern States Power Company dba Xcel Energy; Greg Porter and Laura Demman, Northern Natural Gas Company; and Michael Uda, Uda Law Firm, P.C., representing Consolidated Edison Development, Inc.

(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 November 21 and December 5, 2017. (Staff: Joy Lashley)

     Commissioner Nelson moved to approve the minutes of the Commission meetings held on November 21 and December 5, 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 45 contacts since the last report was prepared for the December 5, 2017, Commission meeting.

Three contacts involved telecommunication services, nine contacts involved electrical services, six contacts were related to natural gas services, five contacts were related to wireless service, ten contacts were related to the Do Not Call Registry, one contact was related to the Keystone Pipeline, two contacts were related to the Keystone XL Pipeline, and nine 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: 2,492 of the 2,505 have been resolved.

Electric

1.     EL16-021     In the Matter of the Complaint by Consolidated Edison Development, Inc. against NorthWestern Corporation dba NorthWestern Energy for Establishing a Purchase Power Agreement (Staff Analysts: Jon Thurber, Darren Kearney, Joseph Rezac; Staff Attorneys: Amanda Reiss, Kristen Edwards)

A lengthy discussion took place regarding docket EL16-021. An audio of the discussion can be found on the PUC website under Commission Actions, Commission Meeting Archives, 2017, December 21, 2017, recording located at: http://puc.sd.gov/commission/media/2017/puc12192017.mp3.

     Commissioner Nelson moved to deny the Motion for Entry of Order Concluding Case and directed Commission Counsel to issue a Final Order including Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law. Motion carried 3-0.

2.     EL17-019     In the Matter of the Petition of Northern States Power Company dba Xcel Energy for Approval of Its 2016 Demand Side Management Report and 2018 Proposed Demand Side Management Plan (Staff Analysts: Darren Kearney, Lorena Reichert; Staff Attorney: Amanda Reiss)

Mr. Steve Kolbeck, Northern States Power Company dba Xcel Energy (Xcel), asked that the Commission approve Xcel’s 2016 DSM status report and tracker account, the performance incentive earned for 2016, the proposed 2018 DSM plan, and the proposed 2018 DSM cost adjustment factor of $0.000510 per kWh with a January 1, 2018, effective date. Mr. Darren Kearney, staff analyst, recommended that the Commission approve Xcel’s request.

     Commissioner Hanson moved to approve Xcel Energy’s 2016 DSM status report and tracker account, the performance incentive earned for 2016, the proposed 2018 DSM plan, and the proposed 2018 DSM cost adjustment factor of $0.000510 per kWh with a January 1, 2018, effective date. Motion carried 3-0.

3.     EL17-032     In the Matter of the Filing by Northern States Power Company dba Xcel Energy for Approval of Tariff Revisions to its Rates for Small Power Production and Cogeneration (Staff Analyst: Lorena Reichert; Staff Attorney: Amanda Reiss)

Mr. Steve Kolbeck, Northern States Power Company dba Xcel Energy (Xcel), asked that the Commission approve Xcel’s tariff revisions. Ms. Lorena Reichert, staff analyst, recommended that the Commission approve Xcel’s request.   

     Commissioner Nelson moved to approve Xcel Energy’s tariff revisions. Motion carried 3-0.

4.     EL17-039     In the Matter of the Petition of Northern States Power Company dba Xcel Energy for Approval of its 2018 Infrastructure Rider Project Eligibility and Factor Update (Staff Analysts: Eric Paulson, Joseph Rezac; Staff Attorney: Amanda Reiss)

Mr. Steve Kolbeck, Northern States Power Company dba Xcel Energy (Xcel), asked that the Commission approve the proposed projects as eligible for recovery and approve the infrastructure rider adjustment factor of $0.005181 per kWh and revised tariff sheet with an effective date of January 1, 2018. Mr. Eric Paulson, staff analyst, recommended that the Commission approve the proposed projects as eligible for recovery, with the exception of Black Dog Unit 6 for reasons as discussed in the memo, and approve the revised infrastructure rider rate of $0.005181 per/kWh and the revised tariff sheet with an effective date of January 1, 2018.

     Commissioner Hanson moved to approve the proposed projects as eligible for recovery and approve the infrastructure rider adjustment factor of $0.005181 per kWh and revised tariff sheet with an effective date of January 1, 2018. Motion carried 3-0.

5.     EL17-040     In the Matter of the Filing of MidAmerican Energy Company for Determination of its Energy Cost Adjustment Factor as Applied to Repowered Wind Facilities (Staff Analyst: Patrick Steffensen; Staff Attorney: Amanda Reiss)

Mr. Brian Rybarik,MidAmerican Energy Company (MidAmerican), asked that the Commission approve MidAmerican’s request for a determination that its new production tax credits (PTCs) resulting from the repowering of up to 706 existing wind turbines are not subject to the provisions of MidAmerican’s energy cost adjustment (ECA) tariff. Mr. Patrick Steffensen, staff analyst, recommended that the Commission grant approval of MidAmerican’s request for a determination that the new PTCs resulting from the repowering of up to 706 existing wind turbines are not subject to the provisions of MidAmerican’s ECA tariff, subject to the condition that such approval shall not preclude Commission review of the project, including project and cost management and accounting data and methods, for prudence and reasonableness for rate recovery in any determination of rates, (including both rate filings by MidAmerican and rate reviews initiated by the Commission) and that it does not guarantee any such rate recovery.

     Commissioner Fiegen moved to determine the new production tax credits resulting from the repowering of up to 706 existing wind turbines are not subject to the provisions of MidAmerican Energy Company’s energy cost adjustment tariff subject to the conditions as outlined by Staff. Motion carried 3-0.

6.     EL17-046     In the Matter of the Filing by Montana-Dakota Utilities Co. for Approval of Tariff Revisions to its Rates for Rate 95, Rate 96 and Rate 97 (Staff Analyst: Lorena Reichert; Staff Attorney: Amanda Reiss)

Mr. Jordan Hatzenbuhler, Montana-Dakota Utilities Co. (MDU), asked that the Commission approve MDU’s tariff revisions with an effective date of January 1, 2018. Ms. Lorena Reichert, staff analyst, recommended that the Commission approve MDU’s request.

      Commissioner Nelson moved to approve Montana-Dakota Utilities Co.’s tariff revisions with an effective date of January 1, 2018. Motion carried 3-0.  

7.     EL17-050     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)

Ms. Amanda Reiss, staff attorney, recommended that the Commission assess a filing fee not to exceed $120,000 with an initial deposit of $8,000 and authorize the Executive Director to enter into necessary consulting contracts. Mr. Miles Schumacher, Lynn, Jackson, Shultz and Lebrun, PC, representing Crowned Ridge Wind, LLC (Crowned Ridge), stated Crowned Ridge does not object to staff’s requests.

     Commissioner Fiegen moved to assess a filing fee not to exceed $120,000 with an initial deposit of $8,000 and authorize the Executive Director to enter into necessary consulting contracts. Motion carried 3-0.

Gas and Electric

1.     GE17-002       In the Matter of the Filing by MidAmerican Energy Company for the Approval of Energy Efficiency Plan for 2018-2022 (Staff Analysts: Darren Kearney, Lorena Reichert; Staff Attorney: Amanda Reiss)

Mr. Chuck Rea, MidAmerican Energy Company (MidAmerican), asked that the Commission approve MidAmerican’s 2018-2022 energy efficiency plan. Mr. Darren Kearney, staff analyst, recommended that the Commission approve MidAmerican’s request.

      Commissioner Hanson moved to approve MidAmerican Energy Company’s 2018-2022 energy efficiency plan. Motion carried 3-0.

Natural Gas

1.     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)

A lengthy discussion reflecting Commissioner concerns regarding progress of switching farm tap customers from Northwestern Energy to MidAmerican took place for docket NG17-011. An audio of the discussion can be found on the PUC website under Commission Actions, Commission Meeting Archives, 2017, December 21, 2017, recording located at:
http://puc.sd.gov/commission/media/2017/puc12192017.mp3.

2.     NG17-016       In the Matter of the Filing by Montana-Dakota Utilities Co. for Approval of Its South Dakota Natural Gas Conservation Portfolio Plan for 2018-2020 (Staff Analyst: Joseph Rezac; Staff Attorney: Amanda Reiss)

Ms. Tamie Aberle, Montana-Dakota Utilities Co. (MDU), asked that the Commission approve of MDU’s South Dakota natural gas conservation programs for calendar years 2018-2020, effective by January 1, 2018. Mr. Joseph Rezac, staff analyst, recommended that the Commission approve MDU’s request.

      Commissioner Hanson moved to approve Montana-Dakota Utilities Co.’s proposed portfolio of natural gas conservation programs for calendar years 2018-2020. Motion carried 3-0.

Telecommunications

1.     TC17-065     In the Matter of the Application of Peerless Network of South Dakota, LLC for a Certificate of Authority to Provide Local Exchange and Interexchange Long Distance Services in South Dakota (Staff Analyst: Eric Paulson; Staff Attorney: Amanda Reiss)

Mr. Eric Paulson, staff analyst, recommended that the Commission grant approval to Peerless Network of South Dakota, LLC’s (Peerless), for a Certificate of Authority to Provide Local Exchange in the non-rural areas and Interexchange Long Distance Services in South Dakota, with the conditions that, for retail purposes, Peerless not offer any prepaid services, including prepaid calling cards, and not accept or require any deposits or advance payments without prior approval of the Commission, and that the applicant be subject to rural safeguards.

     Commissioner Nelson moved to grant Peerless Network of South Dakota, LLC’s request for a certificate of authority to provide local exchange and interexchange long distance services in South Dakota. Motion carried 3-0.

2.     TC17-066     In the Matter of the Application of BlueBird Communications SD LLC for a Certificate of Authority to Provide Local Exchange Services in South Dakota (Staff Analyst: Patrick Steffensen; Staff Attorney: Amanda Reiss)

This docket was deferred until the next Commission meeting.

Items for Discussion

Chairperson Fiegen encouraged Commission staff to open a docket regarding the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act to investigate how the passage of the Act will impact the investor-owned utilities and their ratepayers. Commissioners Hanson and Nelson agreed with the request.

There being no further business, at the hour of 11:39 a.m., the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission meeting adjourned.

/s/Joy Lashley     .
Joy Lashley
Administrative Assistant
PUC Email
December 19, 2017