NEBRASKA POWER REVIEW BOARD
Minutes of the 844th Meeting
August 18, 2023
The 844th 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 South, Lincoln, Nebraska. The roll was called and present were Chairman Reida, Vice Chairman Hutchison, Ms. Gottschalk and Mr. Moen. Executive Director Texel stated that public notice for the meeting had been published in the Lincoln Journal Star newspaper on August 8, 2023. The Board also made the meeting available to the public through Webex. The Webex login 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 in the back of the room. A copy of all materials that the Board would consider was available for public inspection on a file cabinet on the south wall near the back of the room, as well as extra copies of the agenda.
The executive director explained that Ms. Peck sent a letter to Chairman Reida resigning from the Board effective August 1, 2023. In her letter she cited as the main reason the time commitment required to attend monthly meetings, which conflicted with her ability to attend her children’s activities. She stated that if there was a way that the state could change the requirement for those that live further than a four hour drive away to attend meetings by video or teleconference, she would be happy to be on the Board again. Executive Director Texel stated that he delivered a copy of the resignation letter to the Governor’s office and informed them Ms. Peck was the designated accountant member. He also spoke with Shelley Sahling-Zart with the NPA about notifying the NPA Board members so they could spread the word that the Board needs to find a new accountant member. The Board discussed whether this might create concerns with a quorum for meetings. Vice Chairman Hutchison told the Board that the SPP has a video conference meeting scheduled at the same time as the Board’s November meeting, so he may need to step out during part of the PRB meeting. Hopefully that will not create a quorum issue.
The Board first considered the draft minutes from its July 21, 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. Ms. Gottschalk moved to approve the draft minutes. Mr. Moen seconded the motion. Voting on the motion: Chairman Reida – yes, Vice Chairman Hutchison – yes, Ms. Gottschalk – yes, and Mr. Moen – yes. The motion carried 4-0, with one vacancy.
The next agenda item was acceptance of the expense report for the month of July. In July there was $28,514.77 in personal services, $18,026.31 in operating expenses, and $1,919.86 in travel expenses. The total July expenses were $48,460.94. The State’s fiscal year ended June 30. The cash flow percentage indicates 19% of the Board’s cash fund has been used after only one month. The number is inflated because not all the assessments from the utilities have been received. This issue should resolve itself before next month and the percentage of the budget used will be back to a more normal number. Vice Chairman Hutchison moved to accept the July expense report. Ms. Gottschalk seconded the motion. Voting on the motion: Chairman Reida – yes, Vice Chairman Hutchison – yes, Ms. Gottschalk – yes, and Mr. Moen – yes. The motion carried 4-0, with one vacancy.
The next item on the agenda was Butler Public Power District’s Petition for Charter Amendment 11. The District filed its petition in response to the Board’s ruling in the Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District’s Petition for Charter Amendment 11, which would have allowed Central to merge with the Dawson Public Power District. The Board denied Central’s petition due to Neb. Rev. Stat. section 70-604(5), which requires language be included in a district’s charter stating that the district cannot issue general obligation bonds. The Board’s staff investigated and found that 14 other districts’ charters lacked the required language. Butler PPD is one of the additional 14, and the first petition filed to address the issue. Butler PPD filed the petition on June 16, 2023. The petition amends section 5 of the charter. The Board published notice of the proposed amendment for 3 consecutive weeks in two newspapers in the District’s territory. The Notice was published in the Banner Press and the Wahoo Newspaper on June 29, July 6, and July 13, 2023. The notice stated that any protest or objection must be filed by August 11. The Board did not receive any protest or objection to the proposed change. Neb. Rev. Statute section 70-663 allows the Board to approve a charter amendment without a hearing if no protests or objections are filed. The Board must find that the charter amendment will not be contrary to the best interests of the District and that it will not jeopardize or impair the rights of creditors of the District or of other persons. Ms. Gottschalk made a motion to approve Butler Public Power District’s Petition for Charter Amendment 11. Executive Director Texel asked Ms. Gottschalk if the motion included waiver of a hearing. Ms. Gottschalk amended her motion to waive the hearing and approve Butler Public Power District’s Petition for Charter Amendment 11. Mr. Moen seconded the motion. Voting on the motion: Chairman Reida – yes, Vice Chairman Hutchison – yes, Ms. Gottschalk – yes, and Mr. Moen – yes. The motion carried 4-0, with one vacancy.
The Board next heard an update regarding Southwest Power Pool (SPP) activities from Vice Chairman Hutchison, who is the Board’s representative on the SPP’s Regional State Committee (RSC). Vice Chairman Hutchison said that at the last quarterly meeting a winter planning reserve margin was approved. It was not approved unanimously. North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota voted against it. The REAL team is also working on congestion hedging issues. The HITT team made recommendations and SPP staff would be working on them. The SPP Board also approved the budget for the RTO West and Markets+. SPP is hoping to file paperwork with FERC in the first quarter of 2024 to approve the new entities. He also spoke about a new low for renewables experienced by SPP. Wind generated 110 megawatts (MW), or .42% of nameplate capacity, over the SPP footprint on June 6, 2023. The Board discussed the lack of press release for this event. SPP issues press releases whenever renewables set a new record high for output, but does not issue similar press releases when lows are also set. Some Board members and the executive director noted that although SPP claims to be neutral on generation resources, in some instances it gives disparate treatment to different generation sources.
Executive Director Texel stated that the next PRB meetings are scheduled for September 15, October 20, and November 17, 2023.
The last item on the agenda was preparation of the executive director’s annual performance evaluation. In previous years the Board has delegated this to the Chairman. The performance evaluation is done in August because that is the month in which Executive Director Texel was hired. Each member had a copy of the previous evaluation in their Board notebook. All Board members agreed to delegate the evaluation to the Chairman. Chairman Reida encouraged the other Board members to provide him with comments and he would complete the evaluation by next month’s meeting.
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, and Mr. Moen – yes. The motion carried 4 –0 with one vacancy. The meeting was adjourned at 9:45 a.m.
Timothy J. Texel
Executive Director and General Counsel