Note: These minutes are in draft form pending approval by the Board at its next public meeting.
Minutes of the 760th Meeting
December 12, 2014
The 760th meeting of the Nebraska Power Review Board (“the Board” or “PRB”) was held in the Liquor Control Commission Hearing Room, 5th floor, Nebraska State Office Building, 301 Centennial Mall, Lincoln, Nebraska. The roll was called and present were Chairman Lichter, Mr. Grennan, Mr. Haase and Mr. Morehouse. Vice Chairman Reida had informed the Board at the previous meeting that he would not be able to attend the December meeting. Executive Director Texel stated that public notice for the meeting had been published in the Lincoln Journal Star newspaper on December 2, 2014. All background materials for the agenda items to be acted on had been provided to all Board members by e-mail and a copy of the materials was in each Board member’s notebook. The executive director announced that a copy of the Nebraska Open Meetings Act was on display on the north wall of the room for the public to review, and another copy of the Open Meetings Act was available in a three-ring binder on a table in the back of the room. A copy of all materials that the Board would consider was available for public inspection on the table in the back of the room, as well as extra copies of the agenda.
Executive Director Texel announced that the PRB offices had moved from the 5th floor of the State Office Building to the Lower Level. This was a good move for the agency, as the new offices have more room and now can hold more weight, allowing more file cabinets with records. The post office box and phone numbers will all remain the same.
The Board first considered the draft minutes from its November 14, 2014, meeting. The staff did not have any recommended changes. Mr. Haase moved to approve the minutes. Mr. Grennan seconded the motion. Voting on the motion: Chairman Lichter – yes, Vice Chairman Reida – absent, Mr. Grennan – yes, Mr. Haase – yes, and Mr. Morehouse – abstain. The motion carried 3 – 0 with one absent and one abstaining.
The next agenda item was acceptance of the expense report for the month of November. The expenses were $19.709.21 in personal services, $16,397.04 in operating expenses, and $2,059.82 in travel expenses. The total November expenses were $38,166.07. Mr. Morehouse moved to accept the expense report. Chairman Lichter seconded the motion. Voting on the motion: Chairman Lichter – yes, Vice Chairman Reida – absent, Mr. Grennan – yes, Mr. Haase – yes, and Mr. Morehouse – yes. The motion carried 4 – 0 with one absent.
The next item on the agenda was to consider acceptance of the Nebraska Renewable Energy Export Study report. The Brattle Group was the firm chosen through the request for proposals process to research and prepare the report required by legislative bill 1115. In accordance with the contract, The Brattle Group sent representatives to the Board’s December meeting to give a presentation on the report. The Board is to then to determine whether the report meets the requirements set out in the contract, and if so, accept the report. The representatives of The Brattle Group at the meeting to give the presentation were Judy Chang and Michael Hagerty. Ms. Chang and Mr. Hagerty had prepared a Powerpoint presentation that summarized the findings in the report. During the presentation the Board members and executive director asked questions. After the presentation Chairman Lichter asked if the public had any questions. Paul Malone with Nebraska Public Power District asked several questions. Mr. Morehouse moved to accept the Nebraska Renewable Energy Export Study report as complete, but with the allowance that the executive director could approve additional minor changes, such as typos, grammatical errors, and changes needed to two footnotes that the Board had identified during the presentation. Mr. Grennan seconded the motion. Voting on the motion: Chairman Lichter – yes, Vice Chairman Reida – absent, Mr. Grennan – yes, Mr. Haase – yes, and Mr. Morehouse – yes. The motion carried 4 – 0 with one absent. Executive Director Texel stated that the law requires the final version of the report to be submitted to the Legislature and the Governor electronically by Monday, December 15. The report will be made available to the public on Monday on the Legislature’s website at www.nebraskalegislature.gov under the “reports” link.
The next item on the agenda was to consider application PRB-3783. This is an application submitted by the Southwest Public Power District for approval to construct .7 mile of 7.2/12.47 kV distribution line to serve four new oil wells. The application was filed on December 2, 2014. The proposed line would be located in Hitchcock County. The oil wells are located in McCook PPD’s retail service area. McCook PPD filed separate Conditional Consent and Waiver forms for each of the oil wells. The “condition” is that if McCook PPD ever builds a line near the wells, Southwest agrees that McCook PPD has the option to take the service back. McCook PPD must pay the depreciated cost of the facilities. The option becomes effective five years after date when the consent form was signed. The Board did not receive any protests or objections to the application. The Board consulted with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, as required by Nebraska revised Statute section 37-807(3). A consultation letter was received on December 5, stating that the Commission has no record of endangered or threatened species in the project area. The Commission determined the project would have “no effect” on any endangered or threatened species and did not object to approval of the project. Mr. Haase moved to approve Southwest Public Power District’s application PRB-3783. Mr. Grennan seconded the motion. Voting on the motion: Chairman Lichter – yes, Vice Chairman Reida – absent, Mr. Grennan – yes, Mr. Haase – yes, and Mr. Morehouse – yes. The motion carried 4 – 0 with one absent.
The next item on the agenda was to consider application PRB-3781. A hearing is scheduled for this application. The executive director explained to the public present the process that would be followed. The Board will recess its public meeting and convene the evidentiary hearing on PRB-3781. When conducting the evidentiary hearing, the Board will be acting in its quasi-judicial capacity, which is similar to a court. After the conclusion of the hearing, the Board will deliberate. The Board will then reconvene its public meeting and may make a decision on the application, but that is not certain. The Board may take the matter under consideration and issue its decision at a later date. Since the Board is acting in its quasi-judicial capacity during the hearing and deliberations, the general public does not have the ability to comment on the applications involved in the hearing. To participate in the hearing, a person or entity would have had to file a Petition for Intervention or a Protest. All Board members agreed to table application PRB-3781 until after the hearing could be held. The Board then recessed its public meeting at 11:37 a.m. to conduct the scheduled hearing.
The Board reconvened its public meeting at 12:30 p.m. During the recess the Board had conducted the evidentiary hearing on PRB-3781. All members that were present prior to the recess were again in attendance. Application PRB-3781 was filed by the Nebraska Public Power District to request authority to construct 22.5 miles of 115 kilovolt transmission line, .3 mile of 345 kV transmission line, and a 345/115 kV substation. The project would be located in Scotts Bluff County. The application was filed on November 19, 2014. The total estimated cost is $39,238,000. It is estimated to be completed in 2016. The Board had sent a written notice to all parties that the Board deemed to be potentially interested in the application. A public notice was also published in two local newspapers with circulation in the project area. The notice was published in the Scotts Bluff Star-Herald and the Gering Citizen on Thursday, November 27. No Petitions for Interventions were filed. Executive Director Texel stated that the Board consulted with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission as required by Nebraska Revised Statute section 37-807(3). In a letter dated December 11, 2014, the Commission noted that the project area is in the range of the endangered Swift Fox and the threatened River Otter. NPPD has agreed to certain mitigation measures, such as site surveys to determine if the species are present prior to construction. Based on NPPD’s mitigation agreements, the Commission determined that the application “may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect any state-listed endangered or threatened species.” The Commission did not object to the PRB’s approval of the application. Mr. Grennan moved to approve application PRB-3781. Mr. Morehouse seconded the motion. Voting on the motion: Chairman Lichter – yes, Vice Chairman Reida – absent, Mr. Grennan – yes, Mr. Haase – yes, and Mr. Morehouse – yes. The motion carried 4 – 0 with one absent.
The next item on the agenda was to consider the Rattlesnake Creek Wind Project, designated as PRB-3779-G. This is for a proposed either 100 or 200 MW wind generation facility in Dixon County. The applicant filed the application on October 28, 2014. The facility would be located east and south of the Village of Allen. Nebraska Public Power District filed a Petition for Intervention on November 13. The executive director, in his capacity as hearing officer, granted the Intervention. No other interventions or protests were filed. The applicant filed a second Motion for Continuance on December 11, which the hearing officer granted. The hearing has therefore been rescheduled to January 23, 2014. The applicant would like some time to evaluate its options after the prospective buyer notified the applicant the project was no longer in consideration for the contract. All Board members agreed to table the agenda item until the January meeting.
The next item on the agenda was the executive director’s report. The Board members had a copy of the November activities update from JK Energy Consulting regarding its SPP activities. The Chairman did not have any additional information. He stated that he would be attending the RARTF (Rate Allocation Review Task Force) meeting in Texas on Monday, December 15, 2014.
The executive director informed the Board and the public that the Board would be closed not only on Thursday, December 25 for Christmas day, but due to President Obama’s declaration that Friday, December 26 was a federal holiday, the State would also be observing Friday, December 26 as a Nebraska state holiday. There Board’s offices will therefore be closed on both December 25 and 26.
The Board scheduled its 2015 meeting dates for the fourth Friday of each month unless otherwise specified. The next meetings will be held in the Liquor Control Commission Hearing room, 5th floor, State Office Building, 301 Centennial Mall, Lincoln, Nebraska on January 23, February 27, and March 27, 2015.
Mr. Haase moved to adjourn the meeting. Mr. Morehouse seconded the motion. Voting on the motion: Chairman Lichter – yes, Vice Chairman Reida – absent, Mr. Grennan – yes, Mr. Haase – yes, and Mr. Morehouse –yes. The motion carried 4 – 0 with one absent. The meeting was adjourned at 12:38 p.m.
Timothy J. Texel
Executive Director and General Counsel