Note: These minutes are in draft form pending approval by the Board at its next public meeting.
Minutes of the 767th Meeting
August 25, 2015
The 767th meeting of the Nebraska Power Review Board (“the Board” or “PRB”) was held in the Nebraska Public Service Commission’s Hearing Room, 300 The Atrium, 1200 ‘N’ Street, Lincoln, Nebraska. The Power Review Board held its meeting jointly with the Public Service Commission. The purpose of the meeting was to receive a briefing on cybersecurity issues. No other action was taken or issues discussed at the meeting. The briefing was given by Miles Keogh, Director of Grants and Research with the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC). Assisting Mr. Keogh was Sharon Thomas, Senior Program Officer with NARUC.
Public notice for the meeting had been published in the Lincoln Journal Star newspaper on August 11, 2015. The meeting began at 1:35 p.m. Executive Director Texel announced that a copy of the Nebraska Open Meetings Act was on display on the wall for the public to review. Copies of the agenda were available on a table in the back of the room. The Power Review Board members present were Chairman Lichter, Vice Chairman Reida, Mr. Grennan, and Mr. Haase. Mr. Morehouse had notified the Board when the briefing was scheduled that he had a business commitment and would not be able to attend.
Mr. Keogh and Ms. Thomas gave the briefing on cybersecurity issues, using a Power Point presentation.
The meeting was adjourned by unanimous agreement of the Board members at 4:10 p.m.
Timothy J. Texel
Executive Director and General Counsel
Minutes of the 768th Meeting
August 28, 2015
The 768th 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, Vice Chairman Reida, Mr. Grennan, Mr. Haase, and Mr. Morehouse. Executive Director Texel stated that public notice for the meeting had been published in the Lincoln Journal Star newspaper on August 18, 2015. 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.
The Board first considered the draft minutes from its July 24, and August 25, 2015 meetings. The August 25 meeting was a briefing on cybersecurity issues by an official from the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC). This was a joint meeting held with the Nebraska Public Service Commission. There were no action items on the agenda. The PRB staff had no changes to recommend to either of the draft minutes. Mr. Haase moved to approve the minutes for both July 24 and August 25. Mr. Morehouse seconded the motion. Voting on the motion: Chairman Lichter – yes, Vice Chairman Reida – yes, Mr. Grennan – yes, Mr. Haase – yes, and Mr. Morehouse – yes. The motion carried 5 – 0.
The next agenda item was acceptance of the expense report for the month of July. The expenses were $19,354.46 in personal services, $21,969.99 in operating expenses, and $907.63 in travel expenses. The total expenses were $42,232.08. The executive director mentioned that at the July meeting the Board had asked him to check on the status of the expenses for the Nebraska Renewable Energy Export Study done pursuant to LB 1115 last year and report back. This was the study prepared by The Brattle Group. He explained that after all expense had been paid there was $7,648.89 in unused funds. The leftover funds automatically returned to the general fund account at the end of the fiscal year ending June 30. The LB 1115 study was funded entirely with general fund money, not any of the money collected as part of the assessments on Nebraska’s utilities that the Board uses for its expenses. Mr. Morehouse moved to accept the expense report. Mr. Grennan seconded the motion. Voting on the motion: Chairman Lichter – yes, Vice Chairman Reida – yes, Mr. Grennan – yes, Mr. Haase – yes, and Mr. Morehouse – yes. The motion carried 5 – 0.
The next item on the agenda was a presentation on Southwest Power Pool (SPP) current issues. Sam Loudenschlager, Principal Regulatory Analyst with SPP, gave the presentation to the Board. The presentation covered how well the SPP’s new integrated market has performed over the past year, integration of new members into the SPP system, seams issues with adjoining regional transmission organizations, and an update on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan regulation. Joe Lang, Omaha Public Power District manager for FERC and SPP Policy, gave the portion of the presentation pertaining to SPP’s intergrated market and how it was working for Nebraska. After the presentation, the Board thanked Mr. Loudenschlager and Mr. Lang for taking the time to prepare the presentation and for traveling to Lincoln to do so.
The next agenda item was approval of expenses for the executive director to attend a legal seminar. The Nebraska State Bar Association’s Government Practice Section is sponsoring a legal seminar in conjunction with the Nebraska State Bar Association’s annual meeting. The meeting and seminar will be in LaVista, Nebraska on October 8, 2015. The seminar is title “Signs, Signs, Everywhere a Sign.” It will deal with first amendment speech issues related to government and government facilities. The registration cost is $90 for attorneys who are members of the Bar Association. The executive director is a member of the Bar. The expenses would consist of the registration and mileage reimbursement. Executive Director Texel asked if the Board’s designated attorney member, Mr. Reida, would also like to attend. Mr. Reida indicated that he has attended the last two seminars with Mr. Texel and would also like to attend this one. Mr. Morehouse moved to approve the reimbursement of travel expenses and registration for the executive director and the Board’s attorney member to attend the legal seminar. Mr. Haase seconded the motion. Voting on the motion: Chairman Lichter – yes, Vice Chairman Reida – abstain, Mr. Grennan – yes, Mr. Haase – yes, and Mr. Morehouse – yes. The motion carried 4 – 0 with one abstaining.
The next item on the agenda was the executive director’s report. The Board members had a copy of the June activities update from JK Energy Consulting regarding its Southwest Power Pool (SPP) activities. The presentation by Mr. Loudenschlager had covered current SPP activities, so there was no further discussion on this topic.
Executive Director Texel raised the issue of having an Energy Forum with the Nebraska Power Association. This issue was first discussed at the July meeting. The NPA assigned the issue to its legislative subcommittee. This subcommittee met Wednesday. Executive Director Texel said the NPA and the subcommittee were supportive of the idea of an Energy Forum, but they were unsure what exactly was going to be involved, and how it would be conducted. A preliminary issue the subcommittee raised was whether the PRB wanted to conduct the discussion as a public meeting so all five PRB members could attend, or have a committee of two PRB members attend the meeting. If the meeting were held as part of a PRB meeting, it would restrict where the meeting could be held to ensure sufficient seating for the public. Executive Director Texel said the subcommittee also asked if the PRB wanted to meet with the entire NPA Board of Directors or if it would be sufficient to meet with a few of the CEO’s and managers. The subcommittee pointed out that it is extremely difficult to schedule a meeting time that will allow a majority of NPA Board members to attend, especially on notice that is not at least months in advance. The next NPA Board meeting is on September 16. Chairman Lichter stated that it was his opinion that it did not need to be the entire Power Review Board, that just a committee of two members was sufficient. Mr. Grennan stated that a smaller committee could meet with NPA representatives to flesh out the issues that should be discussed at an Energy Forum. Executive Director Texel also asked the Board members if it might be beneficial instead of meeting with the NPA CEO’s and managers to instead have presentations by experts on selected topics of concern to the Board. Mr. Grennan discussed the potential of future SPP projects that may come in front of the Board that might be difficult to approve according to the current criteria that the Board has to follow. Mr. Grennan and Mr. Haase volunteered to be on the PRB committee to meet with NPA representatives. Mr. Grennan said unfortunately he has a conflict on September 16 and would not be able to meet with the NPA Board on that date. He will get back to the executive director with another alternative date.
Executive Director Texel asked how the Board wanted to address issues related to legal interpretations related to community solar gardens and rooftop solar applications. He explained that he believed this was a little bit different from what would be covered at the Energy Forum, so he thought that a separate meeting might be needed to discuss the issues surrounding solar. Mr. Morehouse stated that the Mr. Grennan’s point on education is where the Board should be headed so that it can be fully informed, and avoid interpreting laws whenever possible. Vice Chairman Reida asked if NPPD had a solar project in the works. Mr. Malone, NPPD’s Transmission Compliance and Planning Manager, replied that it was his understanding there is a solar project being studied or developed, but he was not familiar with it. Executive Director Texel pointed out that the solar garden issue is made more difficult because there are numerous ways a community solar facility could be structured. It could involve the residential customer directly owning an identifiable solar panel, or it could be that the customer only owns a percentage of the output of a facility in which they have invested, more analogous to a mutual fund. There could be a third party selling the electricity, or a municipality could own the solar facility and sell the electricity. Executive Director Texel offered that it might work well to follow a process similar to that used when the PRB considered the issue of the location of the load in relationship to a meter, or when dealing with the electric vehicle charging stations. That way the Board can set out a policy providing guidance to developers and utilities what would be be permissible and what would not. That would be helpful to all parties involved. Chairman Lichter stated this goes back to the two Board members discussing these issues at the Energy Forum and getting a better education on the issues. Mr. Grennan thought that the definition could be first addressed at the Energy Forum and then maybe follow up with a presentation to the Board by someone who understands the topic well and can educate the Board.
Executive Director Texel then informed the Board that a formal complaint had been filed. The complaint is scheduled to be heard at the September meeting (September 25). The complaint was filed by a person living in a condominium association against the management company operating the building and its heating and cooling system. The complaint involves whether the calculations for what each party pays is fair. It also claims that the management company is operating as a power supplier. The counsel for the management company indicated that he plans to file a motion for continuance along with a motion to dismiss in the next few days.
The executive director next told the Board that he had received a voicemail message from a representative of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s School of Natural Resources. The person stated that she was organizing a roundtable discussion on the implications of climate change for Nebraska. She invited the PRB members to participate. The roundtable will take place on October 22. The Board members noted that the PRB does not have authority over issues related to climate change regulations. Chairman Lichter stated that he thought it would be best if the executive director conveyed a message of “Thank you for the invitation, but we decline.”
Tom Richards, OPPD manager for Governmental and Community Relations, told the Board that OPPD planning a tour of its methane facility and its peaking stations on September 23. He said if any Board member was interested to please contact him. Chairman Lichter asked Mr. Richards to send an e-mail to each PRB member inviting them and setting out the specifics. The Board members can then respond after they have a chance to check their calendars.
Paul Malone noted that the Board members had recently attended a briefing on cybersecurity issues. He asked if the Board would be interested in having a presentation on NPPD’s cybersecurity efforts and hear an update about NERC compliance issues. The Board indicated that they were interested in this. They asked the executive director to coordinate with Mr. Malone to set up a presentation.
The executive director then gave an update on how the Request for Proposals (RFP) for the Board’s SPP consultant was proceeding. He had submitted the draft RFP to the State’s Administrative Services, Materiel Division. A meeting was held on Wednesday to go over the changes that Executive Director Texel had made, and additional changes that Materiel Division suggested. Administrative Services also wanted the PRB to provide a list of acronyms, which has already been submitted. Chairman Lichter indicated that he would like to be able to issue the RFP by the November meeting. The executive director stated that approval prior to the end of the year should not be a problem, but final approval by the November meeting might be an issue. He will let Administrative Services know the Board would like to expedite this to the extent possible.
The Board had previously scheduled its 2015 meeting dates for the fourth Friday of each month unless otherwise specified. The next meetings have been scheduled for September 25, October 23, and November 20, 2015. They will be held in the Liquor Control Commission Hearing room, 5th floor, State Office Building, 301 Centennial Mall South, Lincoln, Nebraska.
Mr. Grennan moved to adjourn the meeting. Mr. Haase seconded the motion. Voting on the motion: Chairman Lichter – yes, Vice Chairman Reida – yes, Mr. Grennan– yes, Mr. Haase – yes, and Mr. Morehouse – yes. The motion carried 5– 0. The meeting was adjourned at 12:38 p.m.
Timothy J. Texel
Executive Director and General Counsel