Note: These minutes are in draft form pending approval by the Board at its next public meeting.
Minutes of the 788th Meeting
October 27, 2017
The 788th meeting of the Nebraska Power Review Board (“the Board” or “PRB”) was held in the Liquor Control Commission hearing room, Nebraska State Office Building, 301 Centennial Mall, Lincoln, Nebraska. The roll was called and present were Chairman Reida, Mr. Grennan, Mr. Hutchison, and Mr. Moen. Vice Chairman Morehouse had informed the Board at the last meeting that he had a conflict and would not be able to attend today’s meeting. Executive Director Texel stated that public notice for the meeting had been published in the Lincoln Journal Star newspaper on October 21, 2017. All background materials for the agenda items to be acted on had been provided to all Board members prior to the meeting and a copy 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 was available in a three-ring binder on a table at the back of the room. A copy of all materials that the Board would consider was available for public inspection on a table in the back of the room, as well as extra copies of the agenda.
The Board first considered the draft minutes from its September 22, 2017, meeting. The staff did not have any recommended changes. Mr. Grennan moved to approve the minutes. Mr. Moen seconded the motion. Voting on the motion: Chairman Reida – yes, Vice Chairman Morehouse – absent, Mr. Grennan—yes, Mr. Hutchison—yes, and Mr. Moen— yes. The motion carried 4– 0 with one absent.
The next agenda item was acceptance of the expense report for the month of August. The expenses were $24,832.49 in personal services, $16,285.85 in operating expenses, and the travel expenses were $1,058.04. Mr. Grennan moved to accept the expense report. Mr. Hutchison seconded the motion. Voting on the motion: Chairman Reida – yes, Vice Chairman Morehouse – absent, Mr. Grennan—yes, Mr. Hutchison—yes, and Mr. Moen— yes. The motion carried 4– 0 with one absent.
The next item on the agenda was to consider PRB-3862. Loup River Public Power District filed this application on September 19, 2017. The application is for 1.25 miles of 12.5 kV distribution line in Platte County, Nebraska. The line would serve a dairy facility operated by Larson Farms. The construction is in Cornhusker Public Power District’s service area. Cornhusker PPD filed a Consent and Waiver Form waiving a hearing and consenting to approval of the application. The Board consulted with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission as required by Nebraska Revised Statute section 37-807(3). The Board received a letter from the Commission on October 2, 2017. The Commission determined there are no threatened or endangered species in the project area, nor critical habitat. The Commission did not object to the Board’s approval of this project. Mr. Grennan moved to approve Loup River Public Power District’s application PRB-3862. Mr. Moen seconded the motion. Voting on the motion: Chairman Reida – yes, Vice Chairman Morehouse – absent, Mr. Grennan—yes, Mr. Hutchison—yes, and Mr. Moen— yes. The motion carried 4– 0 with one absent.
The next item on the agenda was to review draft language for proposed amendments to two Power Review Board statutes. The executive director explained that the Board had given him the authorization at last’s month meeting to draft language to amend section 70-1014.02 and 70-1020. It would not be necessary to approve another motion. The executive director stated that the Board had a draft of the proposed language in their notebooks. He stated that he did add additional language this week that provided a deadline requiring a private developer to submit a request for hearing within twenty days from receiving notice of its violation. There was additional discussion on the proposed fine. Executive Director Texel stated that he was planning to meet with some private developers to discuss the possibility of how the fines would be assessed. David Levy, an attorney who represents private developers, addressed the Board. He said he appreciated the opportunity to discuss the proposed language with the executive director. Mr. Grennan asked that the executive director put the draft amendments on the December agenda so that the Board could vote at that time on a final draft that will be given to the Legislature. The Board agreed to table the item. Executive Director Texel said he try to meet with Senator Hughes, the chairman of the Natural Resources Committee, to ask if Senator Hughes would be willing to introduce the bills to amend the two statutes.
The next item on the agenda was to consider application PRB-3835-G. This was an application submitted by Bluestem Energy Solutions on September 1, 2016. The application is for a 37.36 megawatt natural gas generation facility. The facility would be located north of the City of Beatrice, Nebraska. It was the understanding of the staff that the city would have a contract to purchase capacity rights from the facility, but the energy output would be sold into the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) market. The capacity would have given the city the capacity required in order to participate in the SPP market. There were several requests for continuance by the Applicant and Protestants. The hearing officer held a prehearing conference by telephone on October 13, 2017. On Friday, October 20, 2017, the Board received a Motion to Withdraw Application filed by the Applicant. The Board’s rules state that “a party shall not be permitted to withdraw said application or pleading without the Board’s approval.” Mr. Hutchison stated that he noticed the application was submitted over a year ago, and asked if it is normal for an application to take that long to come to a hearing. Executive Director Texel stated that the Applicant had made several requests for continuance, either by itself or jointly with the Protestants. After each continuance, it was sometimes difficult to find a date when all counsels and their witnesses were available. The Board’s rules state that an application must be set for hearing within 120 days of filing. Since the Applicant was requesting the continuance and there was no objection, the hearing officer granted the continuance. The purpose of the statute is to protect the Applicant’s right to a timely hearing, so if the Applicant waives that right by requesting a continuance, it has been the practice of the executive director, acting in his capacity as hearing officer, to grant such a continuance. Mr. Hutchison moved to approve the Motion to Withdraw Application, without prejudice. Mr. Grennan seconded the motion. Voting on the motion: Chairman Reida – yes, Vice Chairman Morehouse –absent, Mr. Grennan—yes, Mr. Hutchison—yes, and Mr. Moen— yes. The motion carried 4– 0 with one absent.
The next item on the agenda was the executive director’s report. The first item discussed was an update on Southwest Power Pool (SPP) activities. Mr. Grennan stated that he will be attended the annual Regional State Committee meeting in Little Rock, Arkansas, this following Sunday through next Tuesday. There will be a joint educational dinner on Sunday with both the Board of Directors and the RSC members. He also discussed the RSC approving by-law changes to address terminology for new members. He stated that RSC officers will be elected at the annual meeting. Mr. Grennan stated he was asked to serve as the RSC’s secretary/treasurer for 2018. Chris Dibbern, legal counsel for MEAN, addressed the Board and talked about the public meeting held in Denver, Colorado where the issue of the Mountain West Transmission group joining the SPP was discussed. She did not attend the meeting but it was very large and there were a lot of entities that offered input on the issue.
Executive Director Texel discussed the American Public Power Association (APPA) Legal and Regulatory Conference in New Orleans. Both he and Chairman Reida attended this conference on October 8-11. One of the interesting items discussed at the conference was the possible changes being proposed by Congress to the federal Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA) rules. There is a requirement that facilities approved under PURPA be separated by at least one-mile. Among other issues there are currently discussions regarding whether this requirement is still necessary or useful. An APPA speaker pointed out that in 2007 there were 100,000 installations of PURPA projects. In 2016, there 1.25 million PURPA projects were installed. The state of California saw .15 Gigawatts installed in 2007. In 2016 there were 5.7 gigawatts installed.
Executive Director Texel also discussed the U.S. Department of Energy issuing a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NOPR) directing final action by FERC to impose rules on FERC-approved ISO’s and RTOs to ensure that reliability and resilience attributes of electric generation resources are fully valued. This proposal is based on compensating baseload coal and nuclear for their baseload capacity to complement renewables. Secretary Perry directed FERC to take final action within 60 days of the publication of the NOPR. John McClure, NPPD general counsel, commented on a report issued by the U.S. Department of Energy in August concerning generation resiliency and generation energy mix. He stated that the report is very informative and that there are questions on whether the SPP is actually covered by the NOPR, given the guidelines established in the NOPR.
The executive director noted that the next meeting dates are on November 15, December 15, and January 26. The Board has scheduled the 2018 meeting to be on the fourth Friday of each month, with several exceptions due to holidays.
Mr. Grennan moved to adjourn the meeting. Mr. Hutchison seconded the motion. Voting on the motion: Chairman Reida – yes, Vice Chairman Morehouse—absent, Mr. Grennan—yes, Mr. Hutchison—yes, and Mr. Moen— yes. The motion carried 4 – 0. The meeting was adjourned at 10:10 a.m.
Timothy J. Texel
Executive Director and General Counsel