NEBRASKA POWER REVIEW BOARD
Minutes of the 836th Meeting
December 16, 2022
The 836th meeting of the Nebraska Power Review Board (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, Mr. Moen, and Ms. Peck. Mr. Grennan and Ms. Peck were in attendance virtually via Webex. Executive Director Texel stated that public notice for the meeting had been published in the Lincoln Journal Star newspaper on December 6, 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 provided 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. Anyone wishing to comment on an item or ask a question could also type the comment or question in the “chat” function and the Board’s staff would read the question. 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 meeting notebook. The executive director announced that a copy of the Nebraska Open Meetings Act was on display on the south wall of the room, 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 file cabinet along the south wall near the back of the room, as well as extra copies of the agenda.
The Board first considered the draft minutes from its November 18, 2022, public meeting. The minutes were sent electronically to the Board members. The staff did not have any recommended changes, and no one had contacted them with any requested changes. Vice Chairman Hutchison moved to approve the draft minutes. Mr. Grennan seconded the motion. Voting on the motion: Chairman Reida – yes, Vice Chairman Hutchison – yes, Mr. Grennan – yes, Mr. Moen – abstain and Ms. Peck – yes. The motion carried 4-0 with one abstaining.
The next agenda item was acceptance of the expense report for the month of November. In November there was $35,514.64 in personal services, $18,912.39 in operating expenses, and $4,587.77 in travel expenses. The total November expenses were $59,014.80. Five months of the fiscal year has gone by, which equals 42 percent of the fiscal year, and the PRB has used 41.33% of its cash fund. Chairman Reida pointed out that the status of the per diems used for the RSC representative, currently Vice Chairman Hutchison, was available on the spreadsheet now. The Rebecca Hallgren, the Board’s business manager, asked if the Board members want her to make adjustments to the accounts when they fall below the initially budgeted amount. The Board wanted the accounts left as is so that at the end of the fiscal year, the Board can see which accounts are short, how much short, and therefore which account categories need to be adjusted in the budget cycle. Mr. Moen moved to accept the November expense report. Ms. Peck 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 two agenda pertained to the Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District’s Petition for Charter Amendment 6 and the Dawson Public Power District’s Petition for Dissolution. Although these items were on the agenda, a hearing is scheduled to address both petitions later in the day. The hearing to address whether the parties filing a formal Protest to the Central Nebraska PP&ID’s charter amendment have standing is scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. or shortly thereafter. The Board members all agreed to table both agenda items.
The next item on the agenda was approval of PRB Guidance Document 16. This proposed guidance document pertains to the PRB’s interpretation of whether it has jurisdiction over mobile generation sources. This item has been discussed for several months at the PRB’s monthly meetings. The Board had two drafts in its notebooks. Option 1 finds the PRB has jurisdiction over only mobile generation units that are owned, but not any that are leased. Option 2 finds the PRB lacks jurisdiction over all mobile or portable generation units and mobile substations. Several utilities provided suggested edits to the document and definitions. Executive Director Texel explained that the industry has expressed strong support for option 2. Chris Dibbern, General Counsel for the Municipal Energy Agency of Nebraska, spoke in support of option 2. John McClure, General Counsel for the Nebraska Public Power District, also spoke in support of option 2. He stated that all the electric utilities supported option 2. Darin Bloomquist, general manager for the Nebraska Electric Generation & Transmission Cooperative, which represents 20 public power districts and cooperatives, supported draft option 2. Mr. Grennan moved to approve the draft of option 2, finding the Power Review Board lacks jurisdiction over mobile and portable generators and mobile substations. 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.
Executive Director Texel then gave an update on the memorandum of understanding or letter to the Nebraska Power Association (NPA) detailing additional requests for information to be included in future annual Load and Capability reports. As the Board is well aware, this issue stems from the PRB-Electric Industry workshop meetings. Executive Director Texel told the Board that at its last board meeting the Nebraska Power Association (NPA) wanted to circulate the draft letter with its additional requirements to the members of the NPA Joint Planning Subcommittee (which prepares the report for the NPA) to ensure that the requests were feasible and would not entail an undue amount of additional work. Shelley Sahling, Lincoln Electric System general counsel and NPA administrator, told the Board that the members of the Joint Planning Subcommittee had seen the draft letter and were all right with the additional requests. Vice Chairman Hutchison moved to approve the Board chairman signing the letter as drafted and sending it to the NPA. 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 Board recessed it meeting at 9:28 a.m. During the recess the Board conducted an evidentiary hearing on whether the parties filing a Protest to Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District’s Petition for Charter Amendment 6 had standing to participate in the proceeding. The Board reconvened its public meeting at 1:48 p.m. All Board members were again present, including Mr. Grennan and Ms. Peck via Web-ex.
The Board had the executive director provide a statement concerning the Board’s finding on the Protestants’ standing. The Board determined that the group Citizens Opposed to the Merger, Greg Heiden, Linda Heiden, Richard Waller and Susan Waller all had standing to participate in the proceeding. The Board did not provide its reasoning for the decision but said it would issue a written order a later time. Executive Director Texel stated that the evidentiary hearing on the merits will be held on January 27, 2023. The Board members decided to hold the hearing on the same day as its January public meeting even though there are two other hearings that day.
The next item on the agenda was discussion of whether the Board would participate in a group of states submitting a “concept paper” to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for federal funds under the Grid Resilience Innovation Partnership (GRIP) program. Vice Chairman Hutchison brought this to the Board’s attention at the November meeting. Executive Director Texel had participated in an informational webinar hosted by the DOE concerning how the program would be set up. Under the program, the DOE would provide up to 50% of the funding to construct qualifying transmission projects. The details of the program are not clear yet. There are three sections to the program. The third portion covers funding for inter-regional or inter-RTO “seams” transmission lines. There are five projects that involve SPP and two would be in Nebraska. One project is in the northeast part of the State south of South Sioux City. The other project in the Omaha Public Power District’s service area in the southeastern part of the State, then going into Kansas. Those parties that are interested can submit a “concept paper”. The concept paper is non-binding. It provides a description of what project the party is interested in and how the applicants would organize to address the project. Executive Director Texel stated that the Minnesota Department of Commerce has expressed willingness to be the lead state agency for purposes of putting together a concept paper and application for a group of SPP states. Those states would be Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Missouri, Kansas, and Nebraska. The executive director did not believe there was an issue with the joining the concept paper. There would be no contractual obligation, and no obligation to even file an application. If Nebraska were to join the formal application, however, the NPRB would want to get advice from the Attorney General’s office, and coordinate with the Governor’s office prior to taking any action concerning the application. The federal funds would pass through the Minnesota Department of Commerce and be paid to the SPP. Vice Chairman Hutchison talked about how this could help address the “seams” issue among SPP and MISO. He expressed concerns about whether the funding would require an SPP tariff change, though. Mr. Grennan expressed concerns about unexpected consequences with the receipt of federal funds. Vice Chairman Hutchison moved to authorize the executive director and Board chairman to take the actions necessary to join in the concept paper. 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.
Executive Director Texel then gave an update on the PRB-Electric Industry Workshop. The workshop group decided that it should issue a “whitepaper” or summary of what was discussed and decided during the workshop meetings. Shelley Sahling (who, along with Executive Director Texel, was co-moderator for the group) created a first draft of the document. At the November meeting the Board asked to have two additional sections be added to end of the paper. One would be a brief description of what an Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) is, followed by a brief summary of the most recent IRP issued by LES, MEAN, NPPD and OPPD. Second would be a description of all the different entities with jurisdiction over mandatory reliability standards and a description of the entity’s role, jurisdiction and authority. Scott Benson, LES representative, and Joe Lang, OPPD representative, are preparing the description of what an IRP is. Mr. Grennan said if a conference call was needed to discuss this issue he would make himself available.
Vice Chairman Hutchison gave an update on the SPP monthly activities. The Board had a copy of JK Energy’s monthly report. All members receive this report by e-mail and a copy is available in their meeting notebooks. Vice Chairman Hutchison said the RSC has had only a couple meetings since the PRB’s last meeting. SPP is dealing with the change to the Planning Reserve Margin and how to address those entities that may not be able to meet the new 15% threshold by the deadline. The RSC will have an educational session at its next quarterly meeting to address the PRM requirement.
Executive Director Texel reminded the Board that the next meetings are January 27, February 17, and March 17, 2023. The January meeting is on the fourth Friday instead of the normal third Friday to accommodate another agency that needed to use the Board’s hearing room to hold several days of hearings during the third week of January. As mentioned previously, there will be several hearings that day. The Board needs to plan on an entire day to conduct its public meeting and the evidentiary hearings.
Executive Director Texel updated the Board on the appointment of an attorney member to replace Chairman Reida, whose term will end on December 31, 2022. The Governor’s office received three applications for the attorney member position. The Governor’s office informed the executive director that Governor-elect Pillen will be making the appointment. It is uncertain the timeline for when he will get to agency appointments.
Vice Chairman Hutchison moved to adjourn the meeting. 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 meeting was adjourned at 2:22 p.m.
Timothy J. Texel
Executive Director and General Counsel