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South Dakota Public Utilities Commission Meeting
March 8, 2011, at 1:30 P.M. CST
Room 414, Capitol Building
Pierre, South Dakota
MINUTES OF THE COMMISSION MEETING
Chairman Kolbeck called the meeting to Order. Present were: Vice Chair Gary Hanson; Commission Counsel: John Smith and Rolayne Wiest; Commission Advisor: Greg Rislov; Staff Attorneys: Kara Semmler, Karen Cremer and Ryan Soye; Staff Analysts: Dave Jacobson, Bob Knadle, Ross Pedersen, Brittany Mehlhaff, Chris Daugaard, Jon Thurber, James Mehlhaff, Ryan Riedy, and Bobbi Bourk; and Staff: Deb Gregg, Demaris Axthelm and Seanna Regynski.
Also present were: Brett Koenecke, May, Adam, Gerdes, and Thompson, representing Verizon Business Services, Iberdrola Renewables, Inc., and TransCanada Keystone Pipeline, LP; Otter Tail Power Company representatives: Bruce Gerhardson, Tom Brause, Ron Spangler, Jr., Pete Beithon, Jason Grenier, David G. Prazak, Kyle Sem and Kevin Kouba; NorthWestern Energy representatives: Bleau LaFave and Jeff Decker; Darla Pollman Rogers, Riter, Rogers, Wattier and Northrup, representing South Dakota Network LLC, Local Exchange Carrier Association, South Dakota Rural Electric Association and South Dakota Telephone Association; Christopher Oatway, Verizon; and Kathy Lucas.
Joining the meeting by telephone were: Commissioner Chris Nelson; Chesapeake Regulatory Consultants, Inc. representatives: Bob Towers, Basil Copeland and Dave Peterson, representing South Dakota Public Utilities Commission Staff; Roger Krueger, South Dakota Wheat Growers; Mary Lohnes, Midcontinent; Kathy Ford, Davenport, Evans, Hurwitz, & Smith, representing Midcontinent and Knology of the Plains, Inc., and Knology of the Black Hills, LLC; Sarah Emery, Iberdrola Renewables, Inc.; and Chris Giesbrecht, ATCO, Ltd.
(NOTE: For the purpose of continuity, these minutes are not necessarily in chronological order.)
1. Status Report on Consumer Utility Inquiries and Complaints Received by the Commission. (Consumer Affairs: Deb Gregg)
Ms. Deb Gregg, Consumer Affairs, reported that the Commission received a total of 94 contacts since the last report was prepared for the February 22, 2011, Commission meeting.
22 of the contacts involved telecommunication services, 15 of the contacts involved electrical services, 6 contacts involved natural gas service, 10 contacts involved cell phone service, 29 contacts were related to the Do Not Call Registry, and 12 contacts were related to issues not regulated by the PUC. 451 of the 478 complaints received in 2011 have been resolved.
1. EL10-011 In the Matter of the Application by Otter Tail Power Company for Authority to Increase Rates for Electric Service in South Dakota (Staff Analysts: Jon Thurber, Bob Knadle, Dave Jacobson, Brittany Mehlhaff; Staff Attorneys: Kara Semmler, Ryan Soye)
A lengthy discussion took place regarding the approval of the Settlement Stipulation. An audio of the discussion can be found on the PUC Web site under Commission Actions, Commission Meeting Archives, 2011, March 8, 2011, recording located at: http://puc.sd.gov/Archives/2011/default.aspx.
Commissioner Kolbeck moved to grant the Joint Motion for Approval of the Settlement Stipulation. Motion passed 3-0.
2. EL08-031 In the Matter of the Application by Buffalo Ridge II LLC, a Subsidiary of Iberdrola Renewables, Inc. for an Energy Conversion Facility Permit for the Construction of the Buffalo Ridge II Wind Farm and Associated Collection Substation and Electric Interconnection System (Staff Analyst: Brian Rounds; Staff Attorney: Kara Semmler)
Mr. Brett Koenecke stated that Ms. Sarah Emery filed a request asking to file the facility emergency response plan confidentiality. Ms. Kara Semmler stated that staff supports the request. Ms. Semmler also stated that the PUC has administrative rules in place that allows a party to request access to this information.
Commissioner Hanson moved to approve the request to amend Condition 22 of its permit to allow the emergency response plan as a confidential filing. Motion passed 3-0.
3. EL11-001 In the Matter of the Petition of Black Hills Power, Inc. to Establish an Environmental Measures Cost Recovery Tariff (Staff Analysts: Bob Knadle, Jon Thurber, Brittany Mehlhaff, Chris Daugaard; Staff Attorney: Ryan Soye)
Mr. Ryan Soye stated that staff is requesting to assess a filing fee in this docket pursuant to SDCL 49-1A-8. Black Hills Power, Inc. made no objection to this request.
Commissioner Hanson moved to assess a filing fee in the amount of $50,000 commencing from the filing date. Motion passed 3-0.
Mr. James Mehlhaff stated that Inspector Justin Blais discovered through a routine inspection that South Dakota Wheat Growers' facility in Andover, South Dakota was operating without first obtaining the required grain buyer bond and grain buyer license since October 14, 2010. This is in violation of SDCL 49-45-1 and SDCL 49-45-9. A settlement stipulation was sent to South Dakota Wheat Growers. Mr. Mehlhaff stated staff felt South Dakota Wheat Growers did not intentionally fail to obtain a license for this facility. Yet, due to the length of time it went without a license still recommends a fine of $6,700.00. Wheat Growers agreed to the staff recommended penalty. Extensive discussion was held, however, regarding the appropriate penalty.
Commissioner Hanson moved to approve the settlement stipulation as written with the exception that the fine be in the amount of $500.00.
Commissioner Nelson offered a substitute motion to approve the settlement stipulation as written with the exception that the fine be in the amount of $2,000.00. Motion passed 2-1. (Kolbeck dissenting)
1. HP07-001 In the Matter of the Application of TransCanada Keystone Pipeline, LP for a Permit under the South Dakota Energy Conversion and Transmission Facility Act to Construct the Keystone Pipeline Project. (Staff Analysts: Bob Knadle/Nathan Solem, Staff Attorney: Kara Semmler)
Mr. Brett Koenecke stated that TransCanada Keystone Pipeline, LP is requesting approval of independent noise consultants as stated in Condition 48 of the permit requiring that TransCanada's post-construction operational noise assessments be conducted by an independent third-party noise consultant, to show compliance with the noise level at each pump station or noise-producing facility. Ms. Kara Semmler stated that staff supports the request.
Commissioner Kolbeck moved to approve TransCanada's independent noise consultants. Motion passed 3-0.
1. TC10-096 In the Matter of the Complaint Filed by Midcontinent Communications, Knology of the Plains, Inc., and Knology of the Black Hills, LLC, Against MCI Communications Services, Inc. d/b/a Verizon Business Services for Unpaid Access Charges (Staff Analyst: Bobbi Bourk, Staff Attorney: Kara Semmler)
A lengthy discussion took place regarding Verizon's Request for Stay filed in the proceedings. An audio of the discussion can be found on the PUC Web site under Commission Actions, Commission Meeting Archives, 2011, March 8, 2011, recording located at: http://puc.sd.gov/Archives/2011/default.aspx.
Commissioner Kolbeck moved to deny the Request for Stay. Motion passed 3-0.
There being no further business, at the hour of 3:35 p.m. the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission meeting adjourned. The next Commission meeting is scheduled for March 22, 2011.
/S/ Tina Douglas
March 8, 2011