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South Dakota Public Utilities Commission Meeting
September 4, 2018, at 1:30 P.M. CDT
Room 413, Capitol Building
Pierre, South Dakota

MINUTES OF THE COMMISSION MEETING

Chairperson Kristie Fiegen called the meeting to order. Present were: Commissioner: Chris Nelson; Commission Attorneys: Karen Cremer and Adam de Hueck; Commission Advisor: Greg Rislov; Staff Attorney: Amanda Reiss; Staff Analysts: Patrick Steffensen, Brittany Mehlhaff, Joseph Rezac and Lorena Reichert; Grain Warehouse Manager: Cody Chambliss; Consumer Affairs Manager: Deb Gregg; and Staff: Katlyn Gustafson.

Present were:
Margo Northrup, Riter, Rogers, Wattier & Northrup, LLP, representing representing Valley Communications, Inc. dba Valley FiberCom and Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Telephone Authority; Jason Keil and Kyle Komata, Black Hills Power, Inc. dba Black Hills Energy; Bob Mercer, reporter; Jason Pearson, Doug Marquardt, Dave Husby and Ralph Marquardt, Utica Grain, Inc. dba Upper Midwest Grain Elevator; Utica Grain, Inc. dba Upper Midwest Grain Elevator; and Mitchell Peterson, Davenport, Evans, Hurwitz & Smith, L.L.P., representing Utica Grain, Inc. dba Upper Midwest Grain Elevator.

Joining the meeting by telephone were:
Staff Analyst: Eric Paulson; Grain Warehouse Inspector: Justin Blais; Jason Topp, Qwest Corporation dba CenturyLink QC; Jon Wilson, self; Charlie Gray, Todd Brink, Rick Holland and Ken Crouch, Black Hills Power, Inc. dba Black Hills Energy; Dave Peterson, Chesapeake Regulatory Consultants, Inc, representing PUC staff; Cary Stephenson, Otter Tail Power Company; Jeff Symens, Valley Communications, Inc. dba Valley FiberCom; Scott Bohler, Citizens Telecommunications Company of Minnesota, LLC; and Mona Thompson, Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Telephone Authority.

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

Administration

1.     Approval of the minutes of the Commission meeting held on August 22, 2018, and the Ad Hoc Commission meeting held on August 24, 2018. (Staff: Joy Lashley)

Commissioner Nelson moved to approve the minutes of the Commission meetings held on August 22, 2018, and the Ad Hoc Commission meeting held on August 24, 2018. Motion carried 2-0.

Consumer Reports

1.     Status Report on Consumer Utility Inquiries (Consumer Affairs: Deb Gregg)

The Commission received a total of 31 contacts since the last report was prepared for the August 22, 2018, Commission meeting.

Four contacts involved telecommunication services, ten contacts were related to electrical services, one contact was related to wireless service, nine contacts were related to the Do Not Call Registry, seven 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 2018: 923 of the 936 have been resolved.

Complaint

1.     CT14-001     In the Matter of the Complaint filed by George W. and Carol A. Ferebee, Hill City, South Dakota, against Qwest Corporation dba CenturyLink QC Regarding a Telephone Service Dispute (Consumer Affairs Manager: Deb Gregg; Attorney: Karen Cremer)

2.     CT14-002     In the Matter of the Complaint filed by Jon D. and Barbara J. Wilson, Hill City, South Dakota, against Qwest Corporation dba CenturyLink QC Regarding a Telephone Service Dispute Consumer Affairs Manager: Deb Gregg; Attorney: Karen Cremer)

Mr. Jason Topp, Qwest Corporation dba CenturyLink QC, (CenturyLink), asked that the Commission grant CenturyLink’s motion to dismiss dockets CT14-001 and CT14-002. Ms. Karen Cremer, staff attorney, recommended that the Commission approve CenturyLink’s request. Mr. Jon Wilson agreed to the motion to dismiss.

     In dockets CT14-001 and CT14-002, Commissioner Nelson moved to grant CenturyLink’s Motion to Dismiss.Motion carried 2-0.

Electric

1.     EL18-029     In the Matter of the Application of Black Hills Power Inc., dba Black Hills Energy for Approval of Its Tax Cut and Jobs Act Proposal (Staff Analysts: Brittany Mehlhaff, Patrick Steffensen; Staff Attorney: Kristen Edwards)

A lengthy discussion took place regarding docket EL18-029. An audio of the discussion can be found on the PUC website under Commission Actions, Commission Meeting Archives, 2018, September 4, 2018, recording located at: http://puc.sd.gov/commission/media/2018/puc09042018.mp3.

     Commissioner Fiegen moved to grant the Joint Motion for Approval of Settlement Stipulation and approve the terms and conditions stipulated therein.Motion carried 2-0.

2.     EL18-031     In the Matter of the Filing by Otter Tail Power Company for Approval of Tariff Revisions to Facilitate Implementation of a New Customer Information System (Staff Analyst: Lorena Reichert; Staff Attorney: Amanda Reiss)

     Commissioner Fiegen deferred the docket.

Grain Warehouse

1.     GW18-001     In the Matter of the Grain Buyer License of Utica Grain, Inc. dba Upper Midwest Grain Elevator (Grain Warehouse Manager: Cody Chambliss; Staff Attorneys: Amanda Reiss, Kristen Edwards)

A lengthy discussion took place regarding docket GW18-001. An audio of the discussion can be found on the PUC website under Commission Actions, Commission Meeting Archives, 2018, September 4, 2018, recording located at: http://puc.sd.gov/commission/media/2018/puc09042018.mp3.

     Commissioner Nelson moved to deny the motion to suspend the grain buyer licenses of Utica Grain, Inc. dba Upper Midwest Grain Elevator Utica Grain. Commissioner Nelson further moved to allow Utica Grain to maintain its Class A license, based upon the following conditions:

  1. Utica Grain shall follow the Updated Compliance Plan it filed on August 31, 2018, provided the Plan’s provisions do not conflict with the language found in this order.
  2. Utica Grain shall file monthly financial statements that have been reviewed by a third party. The third party hired by Utica Grain shall be approved by Staff and the name of the third party shall be filed on the Commission’s website.
  3. Utica Grain shall implement a ring fencing plan. Staff shall review the ring fencing plan and approve the language of the plan.
  4. Within 30 days of this order, Ralph Marquardt shall file a written, personal guarantee confirming that all producers will be paid. Staff shall review the guarantee and approve the language of the guarantee. 

Motion carried 2-0.

Telecommunications

1.     TC18-022     In the Matter of the Application of Valley Communications, Inc. dba Valley FiberCom 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)

Ms. Margo Northrup, Riter, Rogers, Wattier & Northrup, LLP, representing Valley Communications, Inc. dba FiberCom (Valley), asked that the Commission grant a Certificate of Authority to provide local exchange and interexchange long distance services in South Dakota. Ms. Amanda Reiss, staff attorney, recommended that the Commission grant approval of Valley’s request for a certificate of authority for local exchange service and interexchange long distance service, Valley be subject to rural safeguards, and Valley provide documentation of the $25,000 bond.
    
     Commissioner Nelson moved to grant Valley Communications, Inc. dba Valley FiberCom’s request for a Certificate of Authority to provide local exchange and interexchange long distance services in South Dakota subject to staff’s conditions. Motion carried 2-0.

2.     TC18-038     In the Matter of the Request of Citizens Telecommunications Company of Minnesota, LLC for Certification Regarding its Use of Federal Universal Service Support (Study Area: 361123) (Staff Analyst: Patrick Steffensen; Staff Attorney: Amanda Reiss)

Mr. Scott Bohler, Citizens Telecommunications Company of Minnesota, LLC (Citizens), asked that the Commission grant the waiver and provide a certification to the Federal Communications Commission and to the Universal Service Administration Company regarding the proper use of Federal Universal Service Support for Citizens. Mr. Patrick Steffensen, staff analyst, recommended that the Commission approve Citizens’ request for a one-year waiver pursuant to ARSD 20:10:32:56 and grant certification.

     Commissioner Nelson moved to grant the one-year waiver and provide a certification to the Federal Communications Commission and to the Universal Service Administration Company regarding the use of Federal Universal Service Support for Citizens Telecommunications Company of Minnesota, LLC. Motion carried 2-0.

3.     In the Matter of Request for Certification Regarding the Use of Federal Universal Service Support in Dockets TC18-041 and TC18-045

     TC18-041     In the Matter of the Request of Qwest Corporation dba CenturyLink QC for Certification Regarding Its Use of Federal Universal Service Support (Study Area: 395145) (Staff Analyst: Lorena Reichert; Staff Attorney: Amanda Reiss)

Mr. Jason Topp, Qwest Corporation dba CenturyLink QC (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.

     TC18-045     In the Matter of the Request of Farmers Mutual Telephone Company for Certification Regarding Its Use of Federal Universal Service Support (Study Area 361389) (Staff Analyst: Joseph Rezac; Staff Attorney: Amanda Reiss)

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

     In dockets TC18-041 and TC18-045, Commissioner Fiegen 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 2-0.

4.     TC18-054     In the Matter of the Application of Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Telephone Authority for an Amended Certificate of Authority (Staff Analyst: Joseph Rezac; Staff Attorney: Kristen Edwards)

Ms. Margo Northrup, Riter, Rogers, Wattier & Northrup, LLP, representing Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Telephone Authority, asked that the Commission grant Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Telephone Authority’s (Company) request for an Amended Certificate of Authority to provide local exchange and interexchange long distance services in South Dakota in the entirety of the Timber Lake exchange. Mr. Joseph Rezac, staff analyst, recommended that the Commission approve the Company’s request.

     Commissioner Nelson moved to grant Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Telephone Authority’s request for an Amended Certificate of Authority to provide local exchange and interexchange long distance services in South Dakota in the entirety of the Timber Lake exchange. Motion carried 2-0.

There being no further business, at the hour of 3:34 p.m., the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission meeting adjourned.

/s/Joy Lashley     .
Joy Lashley
Administrative Assistant
PUC Email
September 4, 2018