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South Dakota Public Utilities Commission Meeting
April 24, 2012, at 9:30 A.M. CDT
Room 413, Capitol Building
Pierre, South Dakota

MINUTES OF THE COMMISSION MEETING

Chairman Chris Nelson called the meeting to Order. Present were: Commissioners: Kristie Fiegen and Gary Hanson; Commission Counsel: John Smith and Rolayne Wiest; Commission Advisor: Greg Rislov; Staff Attorneys: Karen Cremer, Ryan Soye and Kara Semmler; Staff Analysts: Ross Pedersen, Chris Daugaard, Cindy Kemnitz, Brittany Mehlhaff, Jon Thurber, and Patrick Steffensen; Consumer Affairs Supervisor: Deb Gregg; and Staff: Demaris Axthelm.

Also present were: Todd Lundy and Jeff Carmon, CenturyLink QC; Bill VanCamp, Olinger, Lovald, McCahren & Reimers, P.C., representing AT&T Communications of the Midwest, Inc.; Scott Swier, Swier Law Firm, Prof. LLC, representing Native American Telecom, LLC; Brett Koenecke, May, Adam, Gerdes & Thompson, LLP, representing TransCanada Keystone Pipeline, LP; Richard Coit, South Dakota Telecommunications Association; and Margo Northrup, Riter, Rogers, Wattier, and Northrup LLP, representing Local Exchange Carriers Association.

Joining the meeting by telephone were: Pam Bonrud, NorthWestern Energy; Wayne Sterkel, LaCreek Electric Association, Inc.; Chris Madsen, Boyce, Greenfield, Pashby, & Welk LLP, representing CenturyLink QC; Philip Schenkenberg, Briggs and Morgan, P.A., representing Sprint Communications Company L.P.; Meredith Moore, Cutler and Donahoe, LLP, representing  Midstate Communications, Inc.; Jennifer Moore, MidAmerican Energy Company; Sara Metcalf, TransCanada Keystone Liaison Officer; and Bill Hunt, Liberty-Bell Telecom, LLC dba DISH Network Phone & Internet.

Administration

1.     Approval of the Minutes of the Commission Meeting Held on April 10, 2012 (Staff: Joy Irving)

      Commissioner Hanson moved to approve the minutes of April 10, 2012. 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 83 contacts since the last report was prepared for the April 10, 2012 Commission meeting.

14 of the contacts involved telecommunication services, 18 of the contacts involved electrical services, 6 contacts involved natural gas service, 7 contacts involved cell phone service, 25 contacts were related to the Do Not Call Registry, and 13 contacts were related to issues not regulated by the PUC.

624 of the 643 complaints received in 2012 have been resolved.

2,759 of the 2,760 complaints received in 2011 have been resolved.

Consumer Complaint

1.     CN11-001     In the Matter of the Complaint filed by Lee Andersen, Progressive Property Management, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, against MidAmerican Energy Company Regarding a Billing Dispute (Staff Analyst: Deb Gregg, Staff Attorneys: Ryan Soye, Kara Semmler)
        
Ms. Jennifer Moore, MidAmerican Energy Company, stated that the dispute was settled and the settlement agreement will be filed confidentially. Ms. Kara Semmler, staff attorney, that explained staff received confirmation from the parties prior to the scheduled hearing that that the issue was resolved and recommended that the Commission dismiss and close the docket.

     Commissioner Fiegen moved to dismiss the docket. Motion carried 3-0.

Electric

1.     EL12-025     In the Matter of the Request for Approval of an Electric Service Territory Boundary Agreement between Cherry-Todd Electric Cooperative, Inc. and LaCreek Electric Association, Inc. (Staff Analyst: Ross Pedersen, Staff Attorney: Ryan Soye)

Mr. Ross Pedersen, staff analyst, stated that the filing is part of the GIS mapping project to verify all South Dakota electric service territory boundaries for input in the ArcMap software. Staff requested approval of the electric service territory boundary agreement. Mr. Pedersen explained that the agreement does not change the service provider to customers; however, it does reflect a change to the PUC's map kept on file.

     Commissioner Hanson moved to approve the proposed electric service territory boundary agreement. Motion carried 3-0.

2.     EL12-027     In the Matter of the Petition of Otter Tail Power Company to Establish an Environmental Quality Cost Recovery Tariff (Staff Analysts: Brittany Mehlhaff, Jon Thurber, Staff Attorney: Karen Cremer)

Ms. Pam Bonrud, NorthWestern Energy, stated that NorthWestern wanted to be involved in the process as it moves forward. Ms. Karen Cremer, staff attorney, stated that Otter Tail had no objections to NorthWestern's intervention. Ms. Cremer recommended that the Commission grant approval to NorthWestern Energy's intervention.

     Commissioner Fiegen moved to grant Intervention to the parties that have filed. Motion carried 3-0.

Hydrocarbon Pipeline

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 Analyst: Nathan Solem, Staff Attorney: Kara Semmler) 

Mr. Brett Koenecke, representing TransCanada Keystone Pipeline, LP, asked that the Commission authorize the release of the construction bonds.  Ms. Sara Metcalf, TransCanada, stated that there are no open issues at this time. Ms. Kara Semmler, stated that the final issue was resolved and recommended bonds be released.

     Commissioner Hanson moved to grant the motion for Release of Construction Bonds and to authorize the Executive Director or Commission Counsel authorizing to sign off on the bond releases. Motion carried 3-0.

Natural Gas

1.     NG12-001     In the Matter of the Filing by NorthWestern Corporation dba NorthWestern Energy for Approval of Its 2012 Economic Development Proposed Budget (Staff Analyst: Patrick Steffensen, Staff Attorney: Kara Semmler)

Ms. Pam Bonrud, NorthWestern Energy, asked the Commission to approve the 2012 Proposed Economic Development Budget. Mr. Patrick Steffensen, staff analyst, explained that staff had reviewed the proposed Economic Development Budget along with additional details on certain categories provided by NorthWestern and that the plan is similar to those approved in past economic development budget dockets.  Mr. Steffensen stated that staff recommended approval of the 2012 Economic Development Budget.

     Commissioner Fiegen moved to approve the 2012 Proposed Economic Development Budget subject to the conditions that any portion of chamber dues used to support lobbying be excluded and that community donations be specifically allocated to natural gas or electric based on the services provided in the community Motion carried 3-0.

Telecommunications

1.     TC11-087     In the Matter of the Application of Native American Telecom, LLC for a Certificate of Authority to Provide Interexchange Telecommunications Services and Local Exchange Services in South Dakota (Staff Analyst: Chris Daugaard, Staff Attorney: Karen Cremer)

A lengthy discussion took place regarding Docket TC11-087. The transcript can be found on the PUC website under Commission Actions: Commission Minutes: 2012 - http://puc.sd.gov/commission/media/puc04242012.mp3. An audio of the discussion can be found on the PUC Web site under Commission Actions; Commission Meeting Archives; 2012; April 24, 2012, Hearing for Docket TC11-087, recording located at: http://media.sd.gov:81/puc/PUC04242012hearing.mp3.

     Commissioner Nelson moved to deny NAT's Motion for Summary Judgment. Motion carried 3-0.

     Commissioner Fiegen moved to grant Sprint's Motion to Compel. Motion carried 3-0.

     Commissioner Nelson moved to grant CenturyLink's Motion to Compel Discovery Responses. Motion carried 3-0.

     Commissioner Hanson moved to deny NAT's Motion to Compel Discovery except for data requests 1.19 and 1.21, which were directed to Sprint (limited to South Dakota).Motion carried 3-0.

2.     TC12-027     In the Matter of the Joint Application of the South Dakota Telecommunications Association, the Local Exchange Carriers Association and Qwest Corporation dba CenturyLink QC for Waiver of ARSD ยงยง 20:10:29:10, 20:10:29:12 and 20:10:29:16 (Staff Analyst: Chris Daugaard, Staff Attorney: Karen Cremer)

A lengthy discussion took place regarding Docket TC12-027. An audio of the discussion can be found on the PUC Web site under Commission Actions; Commission Meeting Archives; 2012; April 24, 2012, Hearing for Docket TC12-027, recording located at: http://media.sd.gov:81/puc/PUC04242012hearing.mp3.

     Commissioner Hanson moved to suspend or waive the requirements identified in the last sentence of ARSD 20:10:29:10, 20:10:29:12 and 20:10:29:16 until the Commission should decide otherwise.Motion carried 3-0.

3.      TC12-029      In the Matter of the Filing by Liberty-Bell Telecom, LLC dba DISH Network Phone & Internet for Approval of Revisions to its Intrastate Switched Access Tariff No. 1 (Staff Analyst: Patrick Steffensen, Staff Attorney: Karen Cremer)

Mr. Patrick Steffensen, staff analyst, stated that staff had reviewed Liberty-Bell Telecom's tariff revisions for compliance with the VoIP-PSTN provisions of the recent FCC order.  Mr. Steffensen explained that upon staff analysis, data requests, and subsequent company amendments, the language used to identify VoIP traffic is very similar to that used in recently approved tariff revisions. He recommended the Commission grant approval of the tariff with an April 27, 2012 effective date.

     Commissioner Fiegen moved to approve the requested tariff changes effective April 27, 2012. Motion carried 3-0.

Administration

1.     Establishment of the Gross Receipts Tax levy for the 2013 Fiscal Year (Finance Manager: Cindy Kemnitz)

Ms. Cindy Kemnitz, finance manager, stated that each public utility (as defined in 49-34A-1 (12) is to report their previous calendar years intrastate revenue by April 1. Ms. Kemnitz explained, that by May 1 of each year, the Commission needs to establish the rate and assess the tax. Ms. Kemnitz asked the Commission to establish a rate of 0.15% or $250.00, whichever is greater, which is the maximum by state statue.

     Commissioner Nelson moved to approve to Establish the Rate and Assess the Gross Receipts Tax as Authorized in SDCL49-1A-3 of 0.15% or $250.00, whichever is the greater amount.  Motion carried 3-0.

There being no further business, at the hour of 12:40 p.m. the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission meeting adjourned.

 

/S/Joy Irving
Joy Irving
Administrative Assistant
puc@state.sd.us
April 24, 2012