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South Dakota Public Utilities Commission Meeting
Tuesday, October 4, 2005, at 10:30 A.M.
State Capitol Building, Room 412
Pierre, South Dakota
MINUTES OF THE COMMISSION MEETING
Chairman Gary Hanson called the meeting to order. Also present were Vice Chairman Bob Sahr; Commissioner Dustin Johnson; Executive Director Pamela Bonrud; Deputy Executive Director Heather Forney; Commission Attorneys John Smith and Rolayne Ailts Wiest; Commission Advisor Greg Rislov; Staff Attorneys Karen Cremer and Sara Greff; Staff Analysts Dave Jacobson, Harlan Best, Bob Knadle, Michele Farris, and Keith Senger; Director Transportation/Warehouse Division, Jim Mehlhaff; Administrative Secretary Tina Douglas; and Court Reporter Cheri Wittler.
Also present were David Badura, MidAmerican Energy; David Gerdes, May, Adam, Gerdes & Thompson LLC, representing Montana-Dakota Utilities Co., Midcontinent Communications and MCImetro Access Transmission Service, LLC; Darla Rogers, Riter, Rogers, Wattier & Brown representing Golden West Telecommunications Cooperative, Inc., Vivian Telephone Company, Sioux Valley Telephone Company, Armour Independent Telephone Company, Bridgewater Canistota Independent Telephone Company, Kadoka Telephone Company, LECA and various LECs; Bob Miller, South Dakota Electric Utility Companies; Ed Anderson, South Dakota Rural Electric Association; and Rich Coit, South Dakota Telecommunications Association.
Joining the meeting by telephone were Talbot Wieczorek, Gunderson, Palmer, Goodsell and Nelson, representing WWC License, LLC; Denny Law, Golden West; Marlene Bennett, Martin Group; John Burke, Barker, Wilson, Reynolds & Burke; Chris Madsen, Boyce, Greenfield, Pashby & Welk, representing Otter Tail Power Co.; Dick Augustine, Paul Leighton, and Suzan Stewart, Mid American Energy; Melissa Thompson. Mark Holling, and Colleen Sevold, Qwest Corporation; Letty Friesen and David Chorzempa, and Natalie Baker AT&T; Fritz Madsen, Otter Tail Power Company; Brad Moody, Watt, Beckworth, Thompson & Henneman, LLP, representing Superior Renewable Energy LLC; Linda Walsh, Hunton & Williams LLP, representing Superior Renewable Energy LLC; and Don Ball, Dan Kuntz, and Andrea Stromberg, Montana-Dakota Utilities Co.
1. Approval of the Minutes of the Commission Meeting Held on September 13, 2005. (Staff: Tina Douglas.)
Chairman Hanson moved to defer the Minutes of the Commission Meeting held on September 13, 2005. Commissioner Sahr seconded and Commissioner Johnson concurred. Motion passed 3-0.
1. Status Report on Consumer Utility Inquiries and Complaints Received by the Commission. (Consumer Affairs: Deb Gregg)
Ms. Sara Greff reported that the Commission had received a total of 1306 consumer contacts during 2005. Since the last report was prepared for the September 27, 2005, Commission meeting 17, of these contacts had been received; 6 contacts involved telecommunications services; 2 contacts involved electricity issues; 4 contacts involved natural gas issues; and 1 contact involved cellular phone issues. In 2004, 2126 of the 2371 complaints registered have been resolved informally and in 2005, 1066 of the 1306 complaints registered have been resolved informally.
1. CT05-001 In the Matter of the Complaint filed by WWC License LLC against Golden West Telecommunications Cooperative, Inc., Vivian Telephone Company, Sioux Valley Telephone Company, Armour Independent Telephone Company, Bridgewater Canistota Independent Telephone Company and Kadoka Telephone Company Regarding Intercarrier Billings. (Staff Analyst: Harlan Best, Staff Attorney: Rolayne Ailts Wiest)
Mr. Rich Coit, South Dakota Telecommunications Association (SDTA), stated that there is no intervention period in this docket. SDTA filed because of WWC License LLC's Amended Complaint which was filed on September 7, 2005. The Amended Complaint has new allegations in it regarding the constitutionally of SDCL 49-31-109 through 49-31-115. SDTA is in the process of going through the courts now regarding some of these issues. SDTA should be involved in the docket because of that. Mr. Talbot Wieczorek representing WWC License LLC stated that it did not raise the constitutionality issue just recently but it has been part of the litigation for a long time. Letting SDTA intervene in this docket would case a delay and will not help the case especially since discovery is completed. Ms. Rolayne Wiest stated that staff does not object to SDTA's intervention because of the issues that were filed in the Amended Complaint that will directly involve SDTA. Darla Rogers stated that her clients, Golden West Telecommunications Cooperative, Inc., Vivian Telephone Company, Sioux Valley Telephone Company, Armour Independent Telephone Company, Bridgewater Canistota Independent Telephone Company and Kadoka Telephone, do not object to SDTA's intervention. Mr. Coit indicated that SDTA would do everything it possibly could not to delay discovery and would submit its answers to WWC License LLC by October 14, 2005.
Chairman Hanson moved to grant intervention to South Dakota Telecommunications Association in Docket CT05-001 with the condition that SDTA has its answers to WWC License LLC by October 14, 2005. Commissioner Johnson seconded and Commissioner Sahr concurred. Motion passed 3-0.
1. EL04-016 In the Matter of the Filing by Superior Renewable Energy LLC et al. against Montana-Dakota Utilities Co. Regarding the Java Wind Project. (Staff Analysts: Michele Farris and Keith Senger, Staff Attorneys: Karen Cremer and Sara Greff)
See transcript which is on file at the Public Utilities Commission office.
Chairman Hanson moved to defer decision on this item until the end of the Commission Meeting. Commissioner Sahr seconded and Commissioner Johnson concurred. Motion passed 3-0.
2. EL05-022 In the Matter of the Application by Otter Tail Power Company on behalf of Big Stone II Co-Owners for an Energy Conversion Facility Permit for the Construction of the Big Stone II Project. (Staff Analyst: Michele Farris, Staff Attorney: Karen Cremer)
Ms. Michele Farris stated that the Big Stone II Local Review Committee filed a request asking for $47,959 from the Commission in order to hire a consultant to assist in carrying out the Local Review Committee's responsibilities by the February 21, 2006, deadline. Ms. Farris stated that the Local Review Committee's fee total was off by $9.00 but otherwise looked correct. Ms. Farris also stated that the Public Utilities Commission was not involved in the selection of the consultant by the Local Review Committee. Ms. Farris recommended that $47,950 be provided to the Local Review Committee to hire a consultant.
Chairman Hanson moved to approve the request of Big Stone II Local Review Committee to receive $47,950.00 to hire a consultant to carry out its responsibilities deadlines in this docket in a timely fashion. Commissioner Sahr seconded and Commissioner Johnson concurred. Motion passed 3-0.
Mr. David Badura, MidAmerican Energy stated that this request is an extension to be effective for a five-year period through October 31, 2010. It is identical to the current Incentive Gas Supply Procurement Program (IGSPP). This program was initially approved by the Commission for a three-year period in 1995, and was approved with modifications for a second three-year period in 1999, and a third three-year period in 2002. This filing proposes to further extend application of the plan, without modification. The IGSPP compares actual gas supply costs to a benchmark and allows for a sharing of the difference between ratepayers and MidAmerican Energy. Mr. Dave Jacobson stated that the certain award numbers in MidAmerican Energy's filing were based on estimated Northern Natural Gas Company rates because their rate case was not settled when this docket was filed and that the actual rates will be utilized in the upcoming reports. MidAmerican Energy has answered all requests satisfactorily regarding this docket. Mr. Jacobson recommended approving the plan for 5 year period with an expiration date of October 31, 2010.
Commissioner Johnson moved to approve the continuation of MidAmerican's Incentive Gas Supply Procurement Program for 5 more years with an expiration date of October 31, 2010. Commissioner Sahr seconded and Chairman Hanson concurred. Motion passed 3-0.
Mr. Dave Jacobson stated that NorthWestern Corporation requested that this docket be deferred because of a scheduling conflict.
Chairman Hanson moved to defer Docket NG05-011. Commissioner Sahr seconded and Commissioner Johnson concurred. Motion passed 3-0.
In the Matter of Potential Revisions and/or Additions to the Commission's Switched Access Rules Codified in ARSD 20:10:27 through 20:10:29
Ms. Karen Cremer stated that staff would like to open a docket to acquire information and comments regarding switched access rules. Mr. David Chorzempa, AT&T, stated that the intervention in 2005 Switched Access Dockets offer a limited opportunity because most of the local telephone companies are not involved in the 2005 cost studies. AT&T supports the generic rulemaking docket. AT&T thinks it would be very beneficial to do it in a timeframe of 4 to 6 months. AT&T would like the scope of rulemaking broad enough to deal with all the questions and comments that companies have regarding switched access cost studies. Ms. Darla Rogers, representing various LECs and LECA stated that this may be an appropriate forum to study any deficiencies in the cost study methodology. It will also bring all companies to the table. A rulemaking docket at this time may not be helpful due to the open dockets. Also, there are pending proceedings at the FCC and the time lines should correspond accordingly so companies are not doing unnecessary work, because the federal rules will change the state rules. Mr. Rich Coit, SDTA, agrees with Ms. Rogers comments. If the Commission is to open a docket, he urges careful consideration of the time lines to correspond the state and federal proceedings. Mr. Mark Holling, Qwest Corporation, stated that Qwest has maintained lower rates than LECA companies. If the Commission wants to investigate, it should focus on companies that have changed their rates with respect to the scope, he countered not to allow such a broad scope that IXCs such as AT&T can use it as a fishing expedition. Mr. David Gerdes, representing Midcontinent Communications and MCI stated they are in favor of opening a rulemaking docket and it is a good step in solving problems regarding switched access dockets. Mr. Keith Senger stated the rules for switched access dockets are over 10 years old, it may well be time to review the rules, but he expressed concern with the proceedings pending at the FCC at this time. One of the key issues in cost studies has been the deployment of broadband, which our rules currently do not address. The ILECs are not currently allocating joint use facilities to broadband. Staff has argued that allocations should be made on the cost causer pays principle. The rules were written when POTS was the driving force. Rule review would be beneficial, if coordinated with the FCC rulings. For current open dockets it might be better to approach in those dockets similar to what the Commission does in electric or natural gas dockets.
Chairman Hanson moved to open a rulemaking docket regarding switched access rules. Commissioner Sahr seconded and Commissioner Johnson concurred. Motion passed 3-0.
The Commissioners went into executive session to discuss EL04-016.
EL04-016 In the Matter of the Filing by Superior Renewable Energy LLC et al. against Montana-Dakota Utilities Co. Regarding the Java Wind Project. (Staff Analysts: Michele Farris and Keith Senger, Staff Attorneys: Karen Cremer and Sara Greff)
See transcript which is on file at the Public Utilities Commission office.
Chairman Hanson moved to grant a continuance in docket EL04-016 until FERC has made a decision in Alliant Energy Corporate Services, Inc. Commissioner Sahr seconded and Commissioner Johnson concurred. Motion passed 3-0.