NEBRASKA POWER REVIEW BOARD
Minutes of the 838th Meeting
February 17, 2023
The 838th 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, Ms. Gottschalk, Mr. Moen, and Ms. Peck. Chairman Reida and Ms. Peck were participating by Webex, so the meeting will count as a videoconference meeting. Executive Director Texel stated that public notice for the meeting had been published in the Lincoln Journal Star newspaper on February 7, 2023. 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 January 27, 2023, public meeting. The minutes had been 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. Moen seconded the motion. Ms. Gottschalk noted that she had not yet been seated as a Board member on January 27, so she would abstain. Voting on the motion: Chairman Reida – yes, Vice Chairman Hutchison – yes, Ms. Gottschalk – abstain, Mr. Moen – yes 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 January. In January there was $25,168.99 in personal services, $35,869.80 in operating expenses, and $(369.03) in travel expenses. The total January expenses were $60,669.76. The operating expenses were much higher and travel expenses were negative. In the operating expenses category there were two purchase orders for payments for JK Energy in the accounting system during one month. One payment was for the month of January and the other was for February. Only one payment was actually made to JK Energy in January. Since the February purchase order posted in January the funds were allocated from the Board’s cash account in the last couple days of January, so it shows up on the January expense report for accounting purposes. An additional $5,5150 was paid to Gworks for hosting and updating services under the Board’s online digital mapping contract. There was an additional fee of $1,132.12 for court reporters and $500 for notices placed in the newspapers for charter amendments and the public hearing on Dawson Public Power District’s Petition for Dissolution. The PRB also received two reimbursement checks for charter amendment notices for a total of $1,548.27. The negative amount in travel was due to SPP reimbursing the PRB $869.87 for Vice Chairman Hutchison’s RSC related travel. Fifty-eight percent of the fiscal year has gone by, and the PRB has used 56.64% of its cash fund. Vice Chairman Hutchison asked if Ms. Peck had any questions about the financial report. She stated that the executive director answered her questions when he explained the variances in the categories. Vice Chairman Hutchison moved to accept the January expense report. Ms. Peck seconded the motion. Voting on the motion: Chairman Reida – yes, Vice Chairman Hutchison – yes, Ms. Gottschalk – yes, Mr. Moen – yes and Ms. Peck – yes. The motion carried 5-0.
The next item on the agenda was to consider an amendment to Guidance Document 14. This is the Board’s guidance document that sets out the Board’s interpretation of the agency’s jurisdiction over Energy Storage Resources and exemptions to PRB approval requirements. On January 25 Executive Director Texel explained that he met with representatives from Eolian, a company that installs and operates ESRs around the country. Also at this meeting was attorney David Levy. Eolian is considering installing an 11 megawatt (MW) ESR adjacent or very near OPPD’s Jones Street generation station in Omaha. The Jones Street facility uses fuel oil and is rated at more than 11 MW. Under PRB Guidance Document 14, if an ESR is located on the same premises or in the immediate vicinity of a currently existing generator, and if the aggregate capacity of ESRs does not exceed the associated generator’s capacity, the ESR will be considered a facility improvement to the associated generator. An ESR meeting these prerequisites would not need to file an application and does not need PRB approval. The owner only needs to provide written notice of the installation to the PRB. It was executive director Texel’s opinion that Eolian’s planned ESR meets the prerequisites in Guidance Document 14 to be exempt from approval requirements. Executive Director Texel told the Board that the Jones Street generator is a peaking unit that rarely operates and is expensive. Due to this the ESR unit would be almost entirely charged from the grid. After this meeting with Eolian, the executive director spoke with Chairman Reida and Vice Chairman Hutchison, who asked to have this put on the February agenda. They were concerned that the original intent in Guidance Document 14 was that an ESR that was considered a facility improvement would be charged primarily from the generator with which the ESR was associated. They asked the executive director to draft language that would address the intent of Guidance Document 14. Executive Director Texel avoided discussing this with more than two Board members to avoid the appearance of discussing policy items with a quorum of the Board outside of a public meeting. The draft of the language was provided to Mr. Levy to provide to Eolian, to several other attorneys that represent private developers, and to the Nebraska Power Association. Mike Degan, an attorney that represents private developers, submitted a letter expressing opposition to the proposed guidance document language. The Board members had a copy of the letter. Executive Director Texel told the Board he had not received any comments from any of the NPA utilities. Mr. Levy addressed the Board via Webex and introduced several representatives from Eolian that were present at the meeting. Melissa Miller, Lee Pederson and Mel Samaroo were present in person. Eolian vice president Eric Stoutenburg participated via Webex. The Eolian representatives discussed the proposed changes to Guidance Document 14 with the Board members. Ms. Miller told the Board that Eolian did not have a strong preference if the new language were added to the Guidance Document or not. Eolian is happy to work with the Board to comply with whatever the Board decides. Eolian is only interested to know what the final rules are for installation of ESRs so they know how to proceed in Nebraska. Vice Chairman Hutchison said he did not see a good reason to put off the decision until the Board’s March meeting. The Board members decided that it was important to provide clarity on the issue sooner rather than later. Chairman Reida commented that he wanted the utilities to understand that in the future they can make recommendations to amend Guidance Document 14.
Vice Chairman Hutchison moved to approve the proposed draft of the language in Guidance Document 14 regarding Energy Storage Resources. Mr. Moen seconded the motion. Voting on the motion: Chairman Reida – yes, Vice Chairman Hutchison – yes, Ms. Gottschalk – yes, Mr. Moen – yes and Ms. Peck – yes. The motion carried 5-0.
The next item on the agenda was the director’s report. Vice Chairman Hutchison gave an update on the SPP monthly activities. The Board had a copy of JK Energy’s monthly report. Vice Chairman Hutchison stated that he did not have much to provide for an update. Due to the evidentiary hearing scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. he felt the Board should use the time wisely and proceed with the agenda items.
The executive director did not go through the entire list of bills. He had done that last month, and not very much had changed on most of the bills. He stated he would keep the Board updated on any important issues that might come up.
The Board decided to table the election of Chair and Vice Chair to the March meeting, in order to allow an opportunity for the two new appointees to be confirmed and participate in the decision.
Executive Director Texel reminded the Board that the next meetings are March 17, April 21, and May 19, 2023.
Vice Chairman Hutchison moved to adjourn the meeting. Mr. Moen seconded the motion. Voting on the motion: Chairman Reida – yes, Vice Chairman Hutchison –yes, Ms. Gottschalk – yes, Mr. Moen – yes and Ms. Peck – yes. The motion carried 5–0. The meeting was adjourned at 9:50 p.m.
Timothy J. Texel
Executive Director and General Counsel