NEBRASKA POWER REVIEW BOARD
Minutes of the 835th Meeting
November 18, 2022
The 835th 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 Ms. Peck. Mr. Grennan and Ms. Peck were in attendance virtually via Webex. Mr. Moen was unable to attend due to a medical procedure. Executive Director Texel stated that public notice for the meeting had been published in the Lincoln Journal Star newspaper on October 11, 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. 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 table in the back of the room, as well as extra copies of the agenda.
The Board first considered the draft minutes from its October 21, 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 – absent and Ms. Peck – yes. The motion carried 4-0.
The next agenda item was acceptance of the expense report for the month of October. In October there was $25,287.39 in personal services, $16,387.63 in operating expenses, and $804.71 in travel expenses. There was a capital outlay expense of $7,632.79. The total October expenses were $50,112.52. The capital outlay expense was for the purchase of three new laptops and monitors for the office. The existing desktop computers were 5 ½ years old and were due for an update. The State Office of Chief Information Officer (OCIO) recommends that computer systems be replaced every 2-3 years, so the replacements were actually overdue. Four months of the fiscal year has gone by, which equals 33 percent of the fiscal year, and the PRB has used 30.65% of its cash fund. Chairman Reida asked about the status of the per diems used for the RSC representative, Vice Chairman Hutchison. The business manager did not have the amount available at this time, but it was suggested to have a line item created on the cash flow sheet so the Board could keep track of the amount of per diem remaining for the year. Vice Chairman Hutchison moved to accept the October expense report. Ms. Peck seconded the motion. Voting on the motion: Chairman Reida – yes, Vice Chairman Hutchison – yes, Mr. Grennan – yes, Mr. Moen – absent and Ms. Peck – yes. The motion carried 4-0 with one absent.
The next item on the agenda was a presentation by LES on its 2022 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP). The Board had previously asked the entities that prepare an IRP to give a presentation to the Board once their next IRP is finalized. The Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) gave a presentation on its IRP earlier in the year. The Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) and the Municipal Energy Agency of Nebraska (MEAN) are still in the process of collecting information for their IRPs. The Lincoln Electric System (LES) spent many months developing and accepting public input on its IRP. Scott Benson, LES Manager of Resource and Transmission Planning, was designated to give the briefing. Mr. Benson explained that the IRP is prepared every five years, but integrated resource planning is actually being done on a daily basis. Mr. Benson went over how LES prepares its IRP by running different analyses. He spoke about LES’s microgrid within the City of Lincoln. The City has an electrical microgrid set up within its system to assist if ever there was a natural disaster. The Board thanked Mr. Benson for his presentation and asked for a link to the IRP.
During the presentation Vice Chairman Hutchison left the meeting at 9:50 a.m. to participate in conference call of the Southwest Power Pool’s Regional State Committee (RSC).
The next item on the agenda was to consider PRB-3978. This is an application filed by Southern Public Power District to build a 69 kV line with 12.47 kV underbuild in Merrick County. The application was filed on November 4, 2022. The purpose of the line is to replace an existing line, but the location will be moved, which is the reason the application is necessary. A portion of the line will pass through the City of Grand Island’s retail service area. The City submitted a Consent and Waiver form agreeing to approval of the line. A map labeled Exhibit A-1 shows the location of the project. There is approximately .8 mile of the project that will pass through Grand Island’s service area between sections 32 and 33, township 12 north. The Board consulted with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission as required by Neb. Rev. Stat. section 37-807(3). In a letter dated November 16, 2022, the Commission determined the project is in the range of the endangered Interior Least Tern and Whooping Crane, and the threatened Northern Long-Eared Bat and Piping Plover. The Commission noted there is no suitable habitat for Interior Least Tern or Piping Plovers in the project area. The project is near enough to the Platte River that it is in Whooping Crane habitat and foraging grounds. The project also involves tree pruning which could affect habitat for roosting bats. RVW, Inc., which is handling the project for Southern PPD, agreed any tree pruning activities would only occur outside the bats’ roosting period (June 1 to July 31). RVW also agreed to limit the project construction activities outside Whooping Crane migration period. If construction activities would need to occur during the cranes’ spring or fall migration periods, RVW agreed it will follow surveying standard protocol for Whooping Cranes. With these mitigation measures, the Commission determined the project “May affect, but is not likely to adversely affect” the cranes or bats, and no impact is expected on the Interior Least Terns or Piping Plovers, and the Commission does not object to the PRB’s approval of the application. Mr. Grennan moved to approve PRB-3978 with the condition that Southern Public Power District and RVW, Inc., are required to comply with the mitigation measures it agreed to with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. Ms. Peck seconded the motion. Voting on the motion: Chairman Reida – yes, Vice Chairman Hutchison – absent, Mr. Grennan – yes, Mr. Moen –absent, and Ms. Peck – yes. The motion carried 3 – 0 with two absent.
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. Several months ago, the Municipal Energy Agency of Nebraska (MEAN) inquired if PRB approval was needed if the utility were to purchase one or more mobile generators. The current statute does not specifically address mobile generators. MEAN ended up not purchasing the mobile generator, but it raised the point that the PRB has not clearly defined whether it has jurisdiction over mobile generation sources. Executive Director Texel, PRB chairman Reida and vice-chairman Hutchison discussed the issue and decided that a guidance document would be helpful for both the utilities and the PRB to clearly determine what, if any, jurisdiction the PRB has regarding mobile generation units. It was pointed out at the meeting that guidance documents are only interpretive documents, and do not have the force of law like regulations and rules of practice do. Guidance documents are binding on an agency, though. However, the agency can amend or rescind the document at any time during any of its public meetings. Nebraska Revised Statute section 70-1012 sets out the PRB’s primary jurisdiction over generation sources. The statute was written when large-scale commercial mobile generation was not really envisioned. The language in the statute states “Before any electric generation facilities … are constructed or acquired by any supplier, an application, filed with the board and containing such information as the board shall prescribe, shall be approved by the board….”
At the Boards October meeting the Board asked to have the executive director discuss the mobile generation issue with electric utility representatives. Executive Director Texel and Chairman Reida discussed the issue with utility representatives while they attending the American Public Power Association’s legal seminar the week of November 7-11, and the executive director discussed the issue again with the Nebraska Power Association’s Board of Directors at its meeting on November 16. The utilities remain opposed to any PRB jurisdiction over mobile generation units. The PRB members had a discussion regarding the definition of what constitutes a “mobile” generator. The Board asked the executive director to coordinate with utility representatives to determine if the definition of mobile or portable in the draft Guidance Document is adequate. The Board agreed unanimously to table this item to December.
Vice Chairman Hutchison returned to the meeting at approximately 11:20 a.m.
Executive Director told the Board he spoke with the Governor’s office about the replacement appointment for Chairman Reida. The Governor’s staff said appointments for which the term would begin on January 1, 2023 or after would be deferred to Governor-elect Pillen. Chairman Reida is the designated attorney member for the Board, so any applicant to replace him would need to be an attorney.
The first item on the executive director’s report was an update on Southwest Power Pool activities. The Board had a copy of JK Energy’s monthly activities update in their notebooks, and had received the update electronically prior to the meeting. Vice Chairman Hutchison stated that the Regional State Committee (RSC) met in October. The major item was the planning reserve margin deferred penalty for those utility members that would not be able to meet the 15% margin in 2023. There was additional discussion about the Inflation Reduction Act. Vice Chairman Hutchison thought the executive director should coordinate with the Nebraska Department of Energy and Environment about a federal funding program known as the Grid Resilience and Innovation Partnership program (GRIP). Funding is available to states to help pay for transmission projects that interconnect regional transmission organizations. This was just announced. The U.S. Department of Energy will hold an informational webinar on the topic on November 29.
Executive Director Texel then gave an update on the PRB-Electric Industry Workshop. The group decided that it should issue a “whitepaper” or summary of what was discussed and decided during the workshop. Shelley Sahling (who, along with Executive Director Texel, was co-moderator for the group) created a first draft of the document. Executive Director Texel and the two PRB members that are part of the workshop group (Vice Chairman Hutchison and Mr. Grennan) had edited the draft whitepaper. Vice Chairman Hutchison, Mr. Grennan, and Executive Director Texel had also worked on a memorandum of understanding that could be presented to the Nebraska Power Association setting out some additional information that the PRB would like addressed in future annual Load and Capability Reports. Ms. Sahling thought it would be helpful if the document set out both the statutory requirements for the Load and Capability report, all previous requests for additional information the PRB had asked for, as well as all the new additional issues the PRB proposes to ask the NPA to include in future reports. The Board members agreed that was a good idea. The NPA board of directors wanted to give the proposed requests to the NPA Joint Planning Committee to get their feedback on the feasibility and additional workload involved. The PRB members present agreed with the inclusion of all eight additional issues set out in the draft MOU. They also agreed it was a good idea to receive feedback from the NPA’s Joint Planning Committee.
Executive Director Texel reminded the Board that the next meetings are December 16, 2022, and January 27, 2023. The January meeting is on the fourth 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.
Vice Chairman Hutchison moved to adjourn the meeting. Mr. Grennan seconded the motion. Voting on the motion: Chairman Reida – yes, Vice Chairman Hutchison –yes, Mr. Grennan – yes, Mr. Moen – absent and Ms. Peck – yes. The motion carried 4 –0 with one absent. The meeting was adjourned at 12:36 p.m.
Timothy J. Texel
Executive Director and General Counsel