NEBRASKA POWER REVIEW BOARD
Minutes of the 830th Meeting
May 20, 2022
The 830th meeting of the Nebraska Power Review Board (“the Board” or “PRB”) was held in the First Floor Hearing Room, Nebraska State Office Building, 301 Centennial Mall, Lincoln, Nebraska. The roll was called and present were Chairman Reida, Vice Chairman Hutchison, Mr. Grennan and Mr. Moen. Ms. Peck participated in the meeting via Webex videoconference. Executive Director Texel stated that public notice for the meeting had been published in the Lincoln Journal Star newspaper on May 10, 2022. The Board also made the meeting available to the public through Webex. The Webex log-in information was available on the Board’s website and was published in the Lincoln Journal Star notice. The agenda on the Board’s website also includes links to the agenda items with associated documents the Board will consider, as well as a link to the Nebraska Open Meetings Act. Executive Director Texel explained that if any member of the public watching the meeting on Webex wanted to speak, they could click on the “raise your hand” icon. At that time they would be unmuted, they could announce who is speaking, provide an address, and disclose if they represent an organization. All background materials for the agenda items to be acted on were provided to all Board members prior to the meeting 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 south wall of the room for the public to review, and another copy was available in a black three-ring binder on the 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 March 18, 2022, public meeting. The minutes were sent electronically to the Board members. The staff did not have any recommended changes. Mr. Moen moved to approve the draft minutes. Vice Chairman Hutchison seconded the motion. Voting on the motion: Chairman Reida – yes, Vice Chairman Hutchison – yes, Mr. Grennan – yes, Mr. Moen – yes and Ms. Peck – yes. The motion carried 5-0.
The next agenda item was acceptance of the expense report for the months of March and April. In March there was $23,693.13 in personal services, $15,990.73 in operating expenses, and $1,155.56 in travel expenses. The total March expenses were $40,326.33. In April there was $23,693.12 in personal services, positive $977.18 in operating expenses, and $642.48 in travel expenses. The total April expenses were $23,871.51. The April operating expenses showed a net gain because in April the office received six reimbursement checks totaling $17,868.73 from public power districts for publishing notices of charter amendments. The total for the April expenses taking out the reimbursements was $41,740.24. Approximately 83.4% of the fiscal year has gone by as of the end of April, and 81.4% of the Board’s cash fund has been used. Ms. Hallgren (the Board’s business manager) stated that the months of May and June usually see more expenses with the end of the fiscal year expenses and encumbrances. Mr. Moen moved to accept the March and April 2022 expense reports. Mr. Grennan seconded the motion. Voting on the motion: Chairman Reida – yes, Vice Chairman Hutchison – yes, Mr. Grennan – yes, Mr. Moen – yes and Ms. Peck – yes. The motion carried 5-0.
The next item on the agenda was PRB-3968. This is an application filed by the Southern Public Power District to construct 3.6 miles of 69 kilovolt subtransmission line on the north side of the City of Grand Island’s airport in Hall County. The application was filed on April 18, 2022. The purpose of the line is to replace an existing 34.5 kV line. A large portion of the line will be in the City’s retail service area. The Board consulted with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission as required by Neb. Rev. statute 37-807(3). In a letter from the Game and Parks dated May 2, 2022, the Commission determined the project is in the range of the threatened Northern Long-Eared Bat and endangered Whooping Crane. The project site does not appear to have suitable habitat for Whooping Cranes. The project site does contain suitable roosting structures for the bats. Southern PPD identified a section of line that would involve tree trimming and possibly removal. Southern PPD agreed with the Commission that it would avoid removal or trimming the trees during the roosting period of June 1 to July 31. Based on Southern PPD’s agreement, the Commission determined the project “May affect, but is not likely to adversely affect” the Northern Long Eared Bat and the Commission does not object to approval of the application. Mr. Grennan moved approve Southern Public Power District’s application PRB-3968. Mr. Moen seconded the motion. Voting on the motion: Chairman Reida – yes, Vice Chairman Hutchison – yes, Mr. Grennan – yes, Mr. Moen – yes and Ms. Peck – yes. The motion carried 5-0.
The next item on the agenda was a briefing of Omaha Public Power District’s 2021 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP). The Board had requested that OPPD give the Board a briefing on the IRP. OPPD prepares the report for the Western Area Power Administration (WAPA). OPPD has to prepare a 5-year IRP for WAPA due to OPPD’s purchase of hydro power from WAPA. The IRP was submitted on February 28, 2022. The report outlines the next five years of OPPD’s resource plan with a long-term perspective. The briefing was given by Joe Lang, OPPD’s Director of Energy Regulatory Affairs, and Brad Underwood, OPPD’s Vice President of Systems Transformation. During the presentation the Board asked many questions about how the report is prepared and the type of information that is used. One of the questions from Mr. Grennan was if the IRP looks at the type of fuel and firm availability during emergencies, not just capacity. This question brought up the amount of onsite fuel storage, mostly tanks and nearness of some facilities to the Metropolitan Utilities District’s (MUD) gas line for one of the facilities. There was discussion of new technology. Mr. Underwood indicated that OPPD will be researching new technology such as modular nuclear and battery storage. Both Vice Chairman Hutchison and Mr. Grennan stressed that the technology is not where it needs to be to reach the goal of zero emissions by 2050 and still have a reliable system that would not face a repeat of an event such as Winter Storm Uri, which occurred in February 2021. The Board thanked Mr. Lang and Mr. Underwood for briefing them on OPPD’s IRP.
The next item on the agenda was to consider authorization of travel reimbursement for Vice Chairman Hutchison to attend the Annual Reliability Conference held by the Midwest Reliability Organization (MRO) in Kansas City on May 18, 2022. Ms. Tasha Ward of MRO invited the PRB members to attend the event. The invite arrived just prior to the PRB’s March meeting, so it could not be placed on the March agenda for prior approval of the travel expenses. Vice Chairman Hutchison indicated that he would like to attend the event and asked to have the travel expenses on the agenda for the March meeting. Since the PRB cancelled its April meeting the Board is considering approval of the travel expenses after the event occurred. The Board was considering approval of mileage and one overnight hotel stay, plus meals not provided at the conference. The conference was held in the Intercontinental Hotel in downtown Kansas City. Mr. Grennan moved to approve the travel expenses for Vice Chairman Hutchison to attend the MRO’s Annual Reliability Conference in Kansas City. Mr. Moen seconded the motion. Voting on the motion: Chairman Reida – yes, Vice Chairman Hutchison – yes, Mr. Grennan – yes, Mr. Moen – yes and Ms. Peck – yes. The motion carried 5-0.
The next item on the agenda was approval of the PRB’s assessment figure for fiscal year 2022-2023. The executive director reviewed the electric utilities’ gross revenue for the past few years. In 2019 it was $4,040,570,473.42, in 2020 it increased by $3.5 million, and in 2021 the revenue increased almost $700 million. The analyst at the Budget Office informed the staff he wants the PRB to collect $590,000. That figure would include $545,000 for the 2022-2023 cash fund, plus an additional $45,000. The Budget Analyst wants the Board to collect the additional $45,000 so the assessment figure would not fluctuate too much. The electric utilities’ revenue was exceptionally high last year due in large part to the generation and prices during Winter Storm Uri. If the Board collected assessments based only on its projected needs as called for in Neb. Rev. Stat. section 70-1020, the assessment would drop a good deal this year, then increase considerably next year. The Budget Office does not want that to happen. In 2021 the Board collected $530,000 for its cash fund. Legislative Bill 804, which was enacted and signed by the Governor during the 2022 session, adds an additional $15,000 to the Board’s personal service category to fully fund the per diem payments needed for the Board’s SPP Regional State Committee representative. Thus, the assessment increased from $530,000 to $545,000. As stated, the additional $45,000 brings the total to $590,000. The $45,000 will remain in the Board’s cash fund for next year to help avoid any assessment fluctuation. The assessment figure will need to be 12.551091 cents per $1,000 gross revenue for fiscal year 2022-2023. Mr. Moen moved to approve the assessment figure of 12.551091 cents per $1,000 gross revenue for Fiscal Year 2022-2023. Vice Chairman Hutchison seconded the motion. Voting on the motion: Chairman Reida – yes, Vice Chairman Hutchison – yes, Mr. Grennan – yes, Mr. Moen – yes and Ms. Peck – yes. The motion carried 5-0.
The next item on the agenda was to consider the reimbursement for expenses to attend the 2022 Wind and Solar Conference. The 15th Annual Nebraska Wind and Solar Conference will be held in Lincoln, Nebraska. It will be held at the Lincoln Marriott Cornhusker Hotel on October 25-26. The early registration fee is $134.24. After a brief discussion, Mr. Grennan moved to approve the expenses for any board member and the executive director to attend the 15th Annual Nebraska Wind and Solar Conference. Vice Chairman Hutchison seconded the motion. Voting on the motion: Chairman Reida – yes, Vice Chairman Hutchison – yes, Mr. Grennan – yes, Mr. Moen – yes and Ms. Peck – yes. The motion carried 5-0.
The next item on the agenda was to discuss whether the Board would submit comments in response to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NOPR) in docket #RM21-17. The title is “Building for the Future Through Electric Regional Transmission Planning and Cost Allocation and Generator Interconnection”. The due date for comments is July 18, 2022. Executive Director Texel told the Board that several entities had filed Motions with FERC for an extension of time in which to file comments, but it is uncertain whether they will be granted. The Board previously submitted comments on the ANOPR (advanced NOPR) last year in this same docket. After discussion the Board decided to create a committee of two members to work with the executive director to draft comments that could be presented to the Board at the June meeting. Vice Chairman Hutchison previously submitted some comments in an e-mail to the executive director. The Board also wanted to find out if SPP RSC planned to submit comments. The Board also wanted Mr. Krajewski to review the draft prior to filing. It was recalled that in the previous submittal Mr. Krajewski had several edits and thoughts that were very helpful in the PRB’s ANOPR comments. This review is beyond his scope of work and the Board compensated him according to his hourly pay stated in the contract. That process could be used again this time. All Board members agreed that the two members who would work with the executive director to review the draft comments would be Vice Chairman Hutchison and Mr. Grennan.
The first item on the executive director’s report was an update on the Southwest Power Pool activities. Vice Chairman Hutchison updated the Board on items addressed at the last RSC meeting. The RSC met in Dallas on April 26. The meeting was in person for first time in a couple years.
The executive director discussed the legislative bills from the 2022 session.
As the Board knows LB 804 was passed and signed by the Governor. Senator Hughes was kind enough to introduce the bill for the PRB. This is the Board’s bill for increasing the annual amount of per diem compensation allowed for the PRB’s designated SPP RSC member. Executive Director Texel expressed his thanks to Senator Hughes and his staff for introducing and shepherding the bill through the session.
LB 1047 was introduced by Senator Bostelman. This bill would have changed certain requirements in the Annual Load and Capability report. The language “and reliable” would be added to the Board policy statement statute. It would also provide a definition for term “reliable” or “reliability” in the PRB’s statutes. This bill is mentioned because Senator Bostelmen indicated he expected to introduce it again next year.
LB 1058 was introduced by Senator Bostelman. The bill would have provided a requirement for public power suppliers relating to baseload units. The terms “base load”, “base load capacity” and “base load unit” were defined in the bill, and it provided for costs if a base load generating unit were to be retired prior to its life expectancy. Executive Director Texel believes it likely a bill similar to this one will be introduced again next year.
The Board discussed the upcoming workshop with the Board and electric industry representatives scheduled for May 27. The workshop is for the parties to examine the role the PRB plays (and should play) in generation and transmission, generation reliability issues, and other topics. The Board members attending the workshop will be Vice Chairman Hutchison and Mr. Grennan. There will be a total of 13 participants, plus Executive Director Texel and Shelley Sahling acting as facilitators.
Executive Director Texel reminded the Board that the next meetings are June 17, July 15 and August 19, 2022.
Mr. Grennan moved to adjourn the meeting. Vice Chairman Hutchison seconded the motion. Voting on the motion: Chairman Reida – yes, Vice Chairman Hutchison –yes, Mr. Grennan – yes, Mr. Moen – yes and Ms. Peck –yes. The motion carried 5-0. The meeting was adjourned at 12:05 p.m.
Timothy J. Texel
Executive Director and General Counsel