Note: These minutes are in draft form pending approval by the Board at its next public meeting.
Minutes of the 755th Meeting
July 11, 2014
The 755th 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 Vice Chairman Reida, Mr. Grennan, Mr. Haase, and Mr. Morehouse. Chairman Lichter had informed the Board at last month’s meeting that he would not be in attendance due to a business commitment. In the absence of Chairman Lichter, Vice Chairman Reida chaired the meeting. Executive Director Texel stated that public notice for the meeting had been published in the Lincoln Journal Star newspaper on July 1, 2014. All background materials for the agenda items to be acted on had been provided to all Board members on the DocLanding electronic distribution system, 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.
The Board first considered the draft minutes from its June 13, 2014, meeting. The staff did not have any recommended changes. Mr. Morehouse moved to approve the minutes. Mr. Grennan seconded the motion. Voting on the motion: Chairman Lichter – absent, Vice Chairman Reida – yes, Mr. Grennan – yes , Mr. Haase – yes, and Mr. Morehouse – yes. The motion carried 4 – 0 with one absent.
The next agenda item was acceptance of the expense report for the month of June. The expenses were $18,947.19 in personal services, $8,317.88 in operating expenses, and $2,240.50 in travel expenses. The total expenses were $29,505.57. Executive Director explained that the operating expenses are much lower than normal due to the June payment for consulting service being paid in the last days of May. This was done because the executive director was on vacation during the first week of June and would not be able to approve the expense if it was submitted in the first week as usual. Mr. Morehouse wanted to verify that this was the year-end budget status report and that next month would be the start of a new fiscal year. The executive director responded that the State’s fiscal year does end on June 30, but there were a few expenses encumbered that will be paid in July but will use the previous fiscal year’s appropriation. Mr. Morehouse moved to accept the June expense report. Mr. Grennan seconded the motion. Voting on the motion: Chairman Lichter – absent, Vice Chairman Reida – yes, Mr. Grennan – yes, Mr. Haase – yes, and Mr. Morehouse – yes. The motion carried 4 – 0 with one absent.
The next agenda item was a presentation to update the Board on Southwest Power Pool (SPP) activities. Paul Suskie, SPP general counsel, and Sam Loudenslager, SPP Principal Regulatory Analyst, gave the presentation. The presentation covered the history, membership, and current events at SPP such as the Integrated System where the Western Area Power Administration, Basin Electric Power Cooperative, and Heartland Consumers Power District requested to become members of the SPP. Mr. Suskie noted that Mr. Siedschlag, a previous PRB member, played a significant role in the SPP Regional State Committee and was a very knowledgeable member. He thanked him for his dedication, leadership and input to the SPP and its different groups. The Board members thanked Mr. Suskie and Mr. Loudenslager for their presentation. It was felt the presentation was very informative. SPP also invited the Board to attend its RSC retreat in Omaha July 27 and its RSC meeting and Board meeting on July 28 and 29. It will be held at the Embassy in Omaha.
The next item on the agenda was SAA 323-14-A. This is a joint application to amend the retail service area agreement between the City of Superior and South Central Public Power District. This application was filed on June 9, 2014. At last month’s meeting the Board approved a termination of a service area between Superior and Nebraska Public Power District. This is a somewhat related application intended to identify the boundary involved and clean up the discrepancies identified when the parties reviewed the Board’s on-line interactive service area map. Exhibit A-2 is a map showing the new boundary. Exhibit A-1 is the metes and bounds description of the proposed service area. In the application, the power suppliers asked the Board to clarify that if a discrepancy were ever identified between the map and the metes and bounds description, that the metes and bounds description would take precedence. In many of the service area agreements there is no metes and bounds description, only a map showing the boundary involved. The executive director supported the parties’ request to make the metes and bounds take precedence over the map to avoid the possibility of any future uncertainty if the map and the metes and bounds to not match exactly. Executive Director Texel recommended approval, including the request to specify that the metes and bounds description would be controlling in the event of a discrepancy. Mr. Morehouse moved to approve SAA 323-14-A and to clarify that the metes and bounds description would take precedence in the event of a discrepancy. Mr. Grennan seconded the motion. Voting on the motion: Chairman Lichter – absent, Vice Chairman Reida – yes, 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 a joint application submitted by Norris PPD and the City of Lincoln, doing business as the Lincoln Electric System (LES). The application was filed on June 3, 2014. The application was designated as SAA 85-14-A. At last month’s meeting, this item was tabled because the parties were not able to get the necessary signatures on all the documents in time for the Board’s June meeting. The purpose of this application is to transfer the service area rights for a ¼ mile square of territory located near southwest 56th and Van Dorn Road. This area is currently being served by Norris PPD. LES requested to take over this area. Exhibit A-2 and A-5 are maps showing where the tract of land is located. Exhibit A-3 is the proposed metes and bounds description of the entire service area boundary between LES and Norris PPD. Mr. Haase moved to approve application SAA 85-14-A. Mr. Grennan seconded the motion. Voting on the motion: Chairman Lichter – absent, Vice Chairman Reida – yes, 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 an application submitted by the Nebraska Public Power District to construct a 6 gigahertz microwave communication facility. The application was filed on June 18, 2014. The application was designated as PRB-3767-M. The facility will span 18.4 miles in southeast Webster and southwest Nuckolls counties. The purpose of the facility is for communication between NPPD’s 115 kV transmission line connecting its Guide Rock Substation to its Superior Substation. The estimated cost is $205,000. Pursuant to the requirements in Nebraska Revised Statute section 70-1021, which are specific to microwave applications, notice of the application and opportunity to object or protest was sent via certified mail to all common carrier communication companies registered with the Nebraska Public Service Commission as operating in Webster and Nuckolls Counties. The telecommunications providers who received notice were Windstream Communications, Inc., Glenwood Telecommunications Inc., Great Plains Communications, Inc. and the Nebraska Telephone Association. The Board did not receive any protests or objections to the application. The findings necessary in order to approve a microwave communications application are that in the judgment of the PRB the district is not receiving the required quality of service, and will not within a reasonable time receive the required quality of service from the regulated carriers involved, the regulated carriers would not provide the required quality of service by the same or alternate methods at same or lower costs to the district, and such construction would be in the public interest. Mr. Morehouse moved to waive the hearing and approve application PRB-3767-M. Mr. Grennan seconded the motion. Voting on the motion: Chairman Lichter – absent, Vice Chairman Reida – yes, 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 the executive director’s report. The Board members had a copy of the June update from JK Energy Consulting regarding its SPP activities. Due to the thorough discussion of SPP issues when the SPP representatives gave their presentation, the Board did not have any additional comments or questions regarding SPP activities.
Executive Director Texel then updated the Board on the Request for Proposals (“RFP”) required by Legislative Bill 1115. The RFP was issued on May 29. The maximum compensation amount for the bidders was set at $185,000. The bill appropriated $200,000 for the RFP, but $15,000 was held back to pay PRB expenses that would be incurred during the hiring process such as publishing notices, paying the Board’s per diems and travel expenses, and paying the cost for multi-party conference calls. The bid opening date was July 1. The Board members had previously received their copies of the RFP proposals that were submitted. Once the evaluation score sheets are received Rebecca Hallgren, the Board’s business manager, will tabulate the scores. The scoring will determine the RFP bidder’s ranking. The Board will then decide if it wants interviews, and if so, how many bidders to interview. The executive director will then schedule the interviews. The projected start date for the selected contractor is still set for August 6.
The Board scheduled its 2014 meeting dates for the second Friday of each month. The meetings will be held in the Liquor Control Commission Hearing room, 5th floor, State Office Building, 301 Centennial Mall, Lincoln, Nebraska. The next meetings will be on August 8, September 12, and October 10, 2014.
The next agenda item was to consider a pay raise for the Board’s executive director and general counsel. All classified State employees received a 2.25% pay increase effective July 1. Agency heads are non-classified employees, and their salary is at the discretion of the Board or Commission for non-code agencies, or the Governor for code agencies. The pay increase cannot exceed the agency’s appropriation for its personal services category. After the annual raise for classified State employees is determined, each agency automatically receives an appropriation sufficient to cover the wage increase for all its employees. Thus, the personal services limitation for the PRB would allow the PRB’s paralegal and business manager, as well as its executive director and general counsel, to receive the 2.25% pay increase. Unlike the raises for the other two PRB employees, the Board must determine if the executive director will receive a raise and, if so, the amount of the raise. The Board can make the pay increase effective retroactively to July 1 to coincide when all State employees received their pay increases, if the Board wants. Mr. Grennan moved to approve a 2.25% pay raise for the executive director and general counsel and make the raise effective retroactively to July 1, 2014. Mr. Morehouse seconded the motion. Voting on the motion: Chairman Lichter – absent, Vice Chairman Reida – yes, Mr. Grennan – yes, Mr. Haase – yes, and Mr. Morehouse – yes. The motion carried 4 – 0 with one absent.
Mr. Morehouse moved to adjourn the meeting. Mr. Haase seconded the motion. Voting on the motion: Chairman Lichter – absent, Vice Chairman Reida – yes, Mr. Grennan – yes, Mr. Haase – yes, and Mr. Morehouse – yes. The motion carried 4 – 0 with one absent. The meeting was adjourned at 11:13 a.m.
Timothy J. Texel
Executive Director and General Counsel