Monthly Archives: May 2017

Hanson hugs Cremer and Nelson

The jokes flew Tuesday at the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission meeting as the chairwoman, Kristie Fiegen, honored two people for 30 years of service to state government.

“Publicly I can do this,” commissioner Gary Hanson kidded, as he hugged lawyer Karen Cremer. Her three decades include 23 years with the commission. She’s now a staff advisor to the commission.

Hanson hugged Chris Nelson too. The third commissioner, Nelson spent 24 years in the secretary of state office. He now is in year six on the commission.

“This is something to look forward to, 30 years. Hang around,” Hanson told the staff and audience.

Hanson has. He served six years as a Republican state senator in the 1980s. He next spent one term on the Sioux Falls city commission, then won election as mayor of Sioux Falls for two terms. He captured a seat on the state regulatory commission in 2002 and won re-election in 2008 and 2014.

“I thought I was the old-timer here,” Hanson said.

Winter wheat looks better in May 22 report

The South Dakota Wheat Commission distributed its latest report Monday evening on the condition of winter wheat throughout the state:

2 percent very poor;

9 percent poor;

35 percent fair;

53 percent good; and

1 percent excellent.

Those numbers reflect a shift slightly for the better from the past few weeks.

Ten percent of the current crop has headed and 56 percent has jointed. Last year those numbers were 20 percent and 79 percent at this point. The five-year average for headed is 16 percent.

S.D. 10 work has target of June 10 for completion

Seven segments of South Dakota Highway 10 in Campbell and McPherson counties face construction work in the weeks ahead, according to the state Department of Transportation.

The projects are scheduled for completion June 10. The work areas will reopen each evening when the crew wraps up, according to SDDOT. During daylight hours, traffic will be confined to one lane in most instances.

Work includes a culvert replacement and repairs.

PUC today tackles a procedural dispute w/update

Consolidated Edison Development wants to force NorthWestern Energy to pay for electricity that Con Ed proposes to produce from wind farms in Davison, Aurora and Brule counties. Con Ed’s complaint is proceeding before the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission. A procedural matter is due today (Tuesday) before the commission: How far can NorthWestern Energy go in its filing that answers a question asked by commissioner Chris Nelson during the complaint hearing in April?

In a nutshell, the commissioner wanted to know the avoided costs for NorthWestern if minimum generation was subtracted from the cost-calculation equation. NorthWestern’s lawyer Jonathan Oostra filed a three-page response to Nelson’s question. Oostra makes this point in the response:

“Over the 20 year life of the PPA, the model show North Western to be at Min-gen an average estimate of 11,140 MWh per year. Ms. Maini stated that she thought the brokerage fees range from $0.75 to $2.00 per MWh. Using the average, the broker fee would equal $8,335 to $22,280 per year to complete these transactions and calculations. NorthWestern believes that the maximum amount of $22,140 would not cover its costs to complete these tasks. The brokerage rate would need to be much higher.”

PPA refers to purchased-power agreement. Min-gen refers to minimal generation. The witness was Kavita Maini from KM Energy Consulting. MWh refers to megawatt-hours of electricity.

Bill Taylor, one of the lawyers representing Consolidated Edison Development, filed a series of objections May 17. The seven pages cover five points of argument to what Taylor described as “a procedurally peculiar response” to Nelson’s question. Taylor said NorthWestern’s response is a “mix of argument, opinions (presumably Mr. Oostra’s), comments on other evidence presented in the proceeding, NorthWestern’s ‘concerns’ and a few facts, none of which answers Commissioner Nelson’s question.”

We’ll let you know later this morning how the commission rules on this point of dispute. The avoided-cost ruling shall come at a later date. The complaint is EL16-021.

UPDATE: The commission, on Nelson’s motion, unanimously agreed to a compromise offered by NorthWestern Energy and acceptable to Consolidated Edison. The commission voted 3-0 to retain the opening four paragraphs of NorthWestern Energy’s answer and deny paragraph five and after.

Three sentenced in federal courts

The office of the U.S. attorney for the district of South Dakota, Randy Seiler, has provided information about more sentences handed down by federal judges in South Dakota.

Jorie Malcolm Cavanaugh, 27, of Eagle Butte received a sentence May 15, from U.S. District Judge Roberto Lange, that she serve six months of home confinement at her parents’ home in Eagle Butte, or at another home or shelter outside the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation.

Cavanaugh pleaded guilty Feb. 21 to distributing methamphetamine July 8 and twice on July 7. The judge also sentenced her to four years of probation and a $500 fine.

Eric William Ladeaux, 30, of Rapid City received a sentence May 18, from U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Viken, that he serve 20 months in prison followed by one year of supervised release.

Ladeaux pleaded guilty Jan. 6 to possession of body armor by a violent felon. He was found wearing a ballistic vest after a high-speed chase by law enforcement officers in October. “As a
previously convicted felon, it is illegal for Ladeaux to possess body armor,” the news release from Seiler’s office said.

Justin H. Black Moon, 27, of Mission received a sentence of 18 months in prison followed by two years of supervised release May 6 from Judge Lange.

Black Moon pleaded guilty Feb. 21 to assault resulting in serious bodily injury on Oct. 15 during an event at Rosebud. A man confronted Black Moon who in turn repeatedly struck the man, according to the news release from Seiler’s office.

Work starts Monday at 14/83 intersection

The state Department of Transportation begins installing in-motion weight sensors Monday at the intersection of U.S. 83 and U.S. 14 west of Blunt.

The route is the main paved corridor for trucks into Pierre and Fort Pierre from the east and the north.

“Concrete panels will be removed and replaced on the west leg of the junction and concrete grinding will occur on the north and east legs of the intersection to obtain smooth concrete and place sensors,” DOT said in its release.

“Underground wiring and conduit will be placed in the ditches to support the signs and sensors along with new lighting installed at the junction,” the release continued.

Muth Electric of Mitchell is contractor for the $2.3 million project. Completion is scheduled for Oct. 6, 2017.

SD Parks and Wildlife Foundation elects new directors

The South Dakota Parks and Wildlife Foundation, whose members work with the state Department of Game, Fish and Parks, recently elected three new directors. They are:

William May of Rapid City, the chief executive officer and general counsel for Black Hills Surgical Hospital;

Jim Spies of Watertown, the owner and manager of Cowboy Country stores throughout the region, and a former member of the state Game, Fish and Parks Commission; and

Dale Jahr of Sioux Falls, a business consultant.

Karen Gunderson Olson of Rapid City, who is the foundation’s president, announced the selections.

Other members of the foundation’s board are:

Jeff Scherschligt, Sarah Richardson Larson, Kathryn Anderson and Kevin Nyberg, all of Sioux Falls;

Larry Ness, Yankton;

Tom Krafka and Jack Lynass, both of Rapid City;

Spencer Hawley, Brookings, a former GFP commissioner and a current legislator; and

Dick Behl, Scotland.

Non-voting members of the foundation’s board are Kelly Hepler, who is state Game, Fish and Parks secretary, and Barry Jensen of White River, who is a member of the state Game, Fish and Parks Commission.