Minutes of the September 15, 2023 Meeting


Minutes of the 845th Meeting

September 15, 2023


The 845th 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 September 5, 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 Board first considered the draft minutes from its August 18, 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, 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 August.  In August there was $29,902.67 in personal services, $17,534.70 in operating expenses, and $(614.74) in travel expenses.  The total August expenses were $46,822.63.    The travel category shows a negative balance due to the receipt of a reimbursement from the Southwest Power Pool for Vice Chairman Hutchison’s SPP-related travel.  Ms. Gottschalk moved to accept the August expense report.  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 item on the agenda was a presentation of the 2023 Annual Load and Capability Report.  The executive director stated that many years ago the Board designated the NPA as the representative organization to prepare this report, pursuant to Neb. Rev. Stat. § 70-1024.  Jason Fortik, Vice President for Power Supply for the Lincoln Electric System, as Chair of the Nebraska Power Association’s (NPA) Joint Planning Subcommittee, gave the presentation on the report.  The report covers the utility load forecast and generation resources available and needed to satisfy the forecasted loads in Nebraska over the next 20-year period on a statewide basis.  The report includes information concerning generation units that are planned, committed, and studied in order to meet the State’s projected load growth.  The report covers ten additional items of information the Board requested to be included in the report that are not required by Neb. Rev. Stat. 70-1025(3).  Overall, Nebraska currently has excess generation capacity.  The average peak demand growth rate for the State is projected to be 1.5% per year.  In 2022 the projected growth was 0.4%.  Mr. Fortik explained that the increase can be attributed to load growth and how the growth is calculated.  Previously, the percentage did not include potentially large loads that were being considered, but were not yet considered fairly certain.  The report projects that without additional generation capacity, on a statewide basis there would be insufficient generation resources to meet the overall planning reserve margin obligations beginning in 2027.  The Board had numerous questions, particularly around the issue of needed additional generation resources and what is being done to meet the capacity needs.  The Board expressed concern that there were no generation facilities listed in the “planned” category even though a potential capacity shortfall is only a few years away.  In addition to Jason Fortik, other industry representatives addressed the Board’s questions.  Brad Underwood, Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) Vice President for Systems Transformation, addressed several questions posed by the Board members.  He explained that the reason the report shows no facilities in the studied category is that some utilities, including OPPD, do not include facilities in the planned category until the facility has authorization to pursue addition of the unit by the utility’s governing body.  He assured the Board that OPPD and the other utilities were very busy trying to determine what facilities are needed.  Subsequent to the preparation of the report, the boards of directors for both OPPD and the Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) approved moving forward on additional generation assets, which would obviously change the report if it were prepared today.  The Board thanked Mr. Fortik and the other utility representatives for the presentation and the discussion.  Vice Chairman Hutchison moved to accept the 2023 Load and Capability 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 Board took a recess at 11:37 a.m. and returned to the public meeting at 11:45 a.m.  All four members were again present.


The next item on the agenda was PRB-4003.  This is an application filed by the Howard-Greeley Rural Public Power District for authority to construct two miles of 69 kilovolt (kV) subtransmission line in Hall County, Nebraska.  The application was submitted on August 25, 2023.  The application requests to rebuild two miles of 34.5 kV line as 69 kV line and to build a new substation.  The line would be in the retail service areas of both the City of Grand Island and Southern Public Power District.  The new line would be a tie line connection for Howard Greeley RPPD and Southern PPD.  The line would provide the utilities with a back-up switching capabilities.  No new customers would be served by the line.  A map was included with the application and identified where the line and substation would be located.  The Board consulted with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission as required by Nebraska Revised Statute section 37-807(3).  In a letter dated September 12, 2023, the Commission determined the project is in the range of endangered Whooping Crane and Northern Long -Eared Bat.  However, based on aerial imagery the Commission does not believe there is any suitable habitat for either species in the project area.  The Commission recommend the installation of bird flight diverters due to the possibility of collision with migratory birds.  The use of bird flight diverters should be used in areas near habitat such as rivers, wetlands, grasslands or woodlands.  With the bird flight diverters, the Commission determined the project would have “No Effect” on threatened or endangered species and did not object to the Boards’ approval of PRB-4003.  Ms. Gottschalk made a motion to approve PRB-4003 with the stipulation that Howard-Greeley RPPD comply with the mitigation measures outlined by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.   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 REAL team met last Friday.  He did not have much update on SPP activities, but if anyone had questions about JK Energy’s update he would answer them. 


The Board members then discussed the RSC succession planning activities.  Vice Chairman Hutchison and Executive Director Texel met with NPA representatives Shelley Sahling-Zart and John McClure after last month’s meeting.  During the succession meeting the parties discussed removing the requirement in the PRB’s statutes that one board member be an accountant.  They then discussed how to address the RSC succession issue.  There are several options being considered, such as removing the requirement that an appointee not have worked for an electric utility for four years prior to appointment, and changing the length of terms to six years.  There was also discussion to have the per diem amount raised from $60 to $100.  The Board members believed that if there was going to be a statutory amendment, they may as well pursue the per diem change at the same time.  The NPA representatives had also raised the issue of whether the SPP consultant should be a full-time PRB employee.  The Board members discussed this, including the cost of increasing the Personal Service Limitation in the Board’s budget, the cost of benefits, and not having the back-up availability that is present with JK Energy Consulting under the current contract.  The Board did not want to pursue the option of a full-time employee at this time.  They believed that JK Energy’s representation with the extra staff was a better option.


Executive Director Texel stated that the next PRB meetings are scheduled for October 20, November 17, and December 15, 2023. 


Vice Chairman Hutchison moved to adjourn the meeting.  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 meeting was adjourned at 12:54 p.m.


Timothy J. Texel

Executive Director and General Counsel