NEBRASKA POWER REVIEW BOARD
Minutes of the 841st Meeting
May 19, 2023
The 841st 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. Executive Director Texel stated that public notice for the meeting had been published in the Lincoln Journal Star newspaper on May 9, 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 April 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. Vice Chairman Hutchison moved to approve the draft minutes. Ms. Gottschalk 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 agenda item was acceptance of the expense report for the month of April. In April there was $25,481.13 in personal services, $16,943.21 in operating expenses, and $1,519.49 in travel expenses. The total April expenses were $43,943.83. Ten months or about 83% of the fiscal year has gone by, and the PRB has used 78.5% of its cash fund. Ms. Peck moved to accept the April expense report. 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 a presentation by representatives of the Midwest Reliability Organization (MRO). Tasha Ward, MRO Director of Enforcement and External Affairs, along with Mark Tiemeier, MRO Principle Technical Advisor, gave the presentation. The website for MRO is www.mro.net. The presentation covered MRO’s Regional Risk Assessment and NERC’s Long Term Reliability Assessment, among other issues. The Board asked several questions regarding the increase in retiring generation, and there was some discussion on that topic. Vice Chairman Hutchison expressed concerns about the retirement of dispatchable generation. The Board thanked Ms. Ward and Mr. Tiemeier for their presentation.
The next item on the agenda was to consider the Dawson Public Power District’s Petition to withdraw its Petition to Dissolve. Dawson PPD filed this petition at the same time that Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District filed its Petition for Charter Amendment 6. The two petitions would merge Dawson into Central Nebraska PP&ID, rename the district the “Platte Valley Public Power and Irrigation District” and then dissolve Dawson PPD. The dissolution of Dawson PPD was contingent on the Board approving the merger. On April 21, 2023, the Board issued its Order denying the Petition for Charter Amendment 6, without prejudice, based on the omission of required language in the charter. Since the Board did not approve Central PPD’s charter amendment, Dawson PPD’s Petition to Dissolve needs to be withdrawn. This would allow both districts to correct the omitted charter language and refile a new petition, if they choose to do so. The PRB’s rules of practice and procedure require the Board to approve the withdrawal of any pleading that has been filed with the PRB before it can be withdrawn. Executive Director Texel stated he believed the motion to approve the withdrawal was pretty straightforward and recommended approval. Mr. Moen moved to approve the Dawson Public Power District’s Petition to withdraw its Petition to Dissolve. Ms. Gottschalk 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 whether the Board would pay expenses for the general counsel and the Board’s designated attorney member to attend the 2023 Energy Summit Seminar sponsored by the Nebraska State Bar Association. The NSBA Agricultural Law and Natural Resources & Environmental Law sections are sponsoring the “Energy Summit” legal education seminar. It will be held in Kearney, Nebraska on June 8, 2023. Executive Director Texel told the Board he thought the topics sounded applicable to the Board’s areas of interest, such as net metering and wind and solar leases, and he would like to attend the seminar. The Board’s designated attorney member (currently Chairman Reida) would also be eligible to attend. PRB Board Policy 4 allows the executive director to approve his own travel that is entirely within Nebraska, including an overnight hotel stay. However, the seminar would also involve the cost of registration, which the Board needs to approve. The cost for registration is $300 for dues paying members of the NSBA, and $390 for attorneys that are not members of the NSBA. The expenses for the attorney member would include a per diem, mileage and probably a hotel for one night. PRB Board Policy 6 covers expenses for travel within the State for the Board members. The topics listed to be covered are wind and solar leases, carbon sequestration, net metering and zoning. Ms. Gottschalk moved to approve the reimbursement of expenses for the attorney member and the executive director and general counsel to attend the Nebraska State Bar Association’s 2023 Energy Summit in Kearney, Nebraska on June 8, 2023. Mr. Moen seconded the motion. Voting on the motion: Chairman Reida – abstain, Vice Chairman Hutchison – yes, Ms. Gottschalk – yes, Mr. Moen – yes and Ms. Peck – absent. The motion carried 4-0 with one abstain.
The next item on the agenda was to consider approval of expenses for the 2023 Wind and Solar Conference to be held in Lincoln on October 24-25 at the Cornhusker Marriott Hotel. This will be the 16th annual conference held. Early registration fee is $125 if paid by September 24. The executive director stated that his only expense would be the registration fee. If Board members would like to attend the expenses would include mileage, per diem, and possibly an overnight hotel stay. Ms. Gottschalk stated that she might be interested in attending but would check her schedule. Vice Chairman Hutchison moved to approve expenses for any Board member and the executive director to attend the 2023 Wind and Solar Conference. 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 the executive director’s report. The first item was an update on the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) monthly activities. The Board had a copy of JK Energy’s monthly report. During the presentation Vice Chairman Hutchison spoke about the release of generation retirement figures and types of generation throughout SPP footprint. He stated that the HITM1 task force was still working on the details of its proposal for reimbursement. The big discussion at the meeting was dealing with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s ELCC (effective load carrying capability) filing.
The executive director discussed the Legislature and the bills on the PRB tracking list. The main state government budget bill, LB 814, was passed on May 18. Several of the bills the PRB is tracking have been included in what is called “Christmas Tree” bills. This is where a bill on General File would be amended to add numerous additional bills that were under the jurisdiction of one specific committee. LB191 is one of these bills already on General File. An additional seven other bills have been amended into LB 191. One of those bills is LB 267, which is the Critical Infrastructure Utility Worker Protection Act. OPPD requested this bill. The bill would make utility workers eligible to receive preferential treatment during an emergency for personal protection equipment and vaccines, etc., just like law enforcement, firefighters and medical personnel currently receive. LB 191 was advanced to Final Reading on May 2.
Another Christmas Tree bill is LB 565. The original bill pertained to clean hydrogen hubs. The bill now has several additional bills including LBs 289, 567 and 568 that the PRB has on its tracking document. LB 289 addresses the authority of agencies created under the Municipal Cooperative Financing Act. The bill clarifies that MEAN (Municipal Energy Agency of Nebraska) would have the authority to “own, operate, contract to operate, or lease advanced metering infrastructure technology.” MEAN asked for this bill because some of its members are requesting MEAN to install and operate smart meters in their towns. An attorney general’s opinion determined that MEAN may lack the authority to engage in such activities. Also included in this bill is LB 567. This bill defines the term “reliability” for purposes of the Power Review Board’s statutes. It also makes it mandatory for the designated representative organization that prepares the annual Load and Capability Report (currently the Nebraska Power Association) to include any additional information the PRB requests in the report, as long as the request is submitted in writing, is consistent with the PRB’s statutory responsibilities, and can be performed at a reasonable cost. The bill also removes the prohibition against high-level managers of public power districts serving as a director on another public power district’s board. LB 568 would adopt the Nuclear and Hydrogen Development Act and is also on the PRB’s tracking document. The bill would create a working group and allocate five million dollars from the general fund. The fund would terminate on July 31, 2028. LB 565 advanced to Final Reading on April 25.
The executive director told the Board that a letter was sent to all the districts whose charters lacked the “general obligation bond” language required in Neb. Rev. Stat. section 70-604(5). The PRB staff was told there are several districts that are already preparing a charter amendment. A couple of the districts involved are irrigation districts, which very rarely amend their charters. Those districts that need to issue revenue bonds will likely be the first ones to file charter amendments. Now that the issue has been identified, it is likely that bond counsels will require the charter to be changed to comply with state law prior to approving a bond issuance. A majority of the districts are represented by one law firm.
Executive Director Texel stated that the next PRB meetings are June 9, July 21, and August 18, 2023. The June 9 date does not follow the Board’s normal third Friday due to a scheduling conflict for the staff. Mr. Moen reminded the Board that he would be absent from the June 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, Mr. Moen – yes and Ms. Peck – yes. The motion carried 5–0. The meeting was adjourned at 11:37 a.m.
Timothy J. Texel
Executive Director and General Counsel