Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

In re Application of Black Hills Power, Inc.

Supreme Court of South Dakota

December 14, 2016

In the Matter of the Application of Black Hills Power, Inc. for authority to increase its electric rates.

          CONSIDERED ON BRIEFS ON AUGUST 29, 2016

         APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE SIXTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT HUGHES COUNTY, SOUTH DAKOTA, THE HONORABLE MARK W. BARNETT Judge.

          MARK A. MORENO of Moreno, Lee & Bachand, PC Pierre, South Dakota ANDREW P MORATZKA of Stoel Rives, LLP Minneapolis, Minnesota and CHAD T. MARRIOTT of Stoel Rives, LLP Portland, Oregon, Attorneys for appellants GCC Dacotah, Inc., Pete Lien & Sons, Inc., Rushmore Forest Products, Inc., Spearfish Forest Products, Inc., Rapid City Regional Hospital, Inc. & Wharf Resources, Inc., together the Black Hills Industrial Intervenors.

          LEE A. MAGNUSON NICOLE O. TUPMAN Lindquist & Vennum LLP Sioux Falls, South Dakota and TODD BRINK AMY KOENIG of Black Hills Power Corporation Rapid City, South Dakota, Attorneys for appellee Black Hills Power.

          KAREN E. CREMER Special Assistant Attorney General South Dakota Public Utilities Commission Pierre, South Dakota, Attorneys for appellee South Dakota Public Utilities Commission.

          WILBUR, Justice.

         [¶1.] In March 2014, Black Hills Power, Inc., (BHP) filed an application for authority to increase electric rates with the South Dakota Public Utility Commission. In June 2014, Black Hills Industrial Intervenors (BHII)[1] filed a motion to intervene, and the Commission granted the motion. The parties then agreed to a settlement stipulation regarding the increase in December 2014, but BHP sought to amend the stipulation in February 2015. BHII resisted the amendment, but the Commission granted the amended settlement stipulation and approved the rate increase. BHII appeals.

         Background

         [¶2.] Black Hills Power is a public utility in South Dakota, providing electric service to approximately 65, 500 customers in the western portion of the state. As a South Dakota public utility, BHP must provide service to all customers in a given area in return for a state-granted monopoly.

         [¶3.] All utilities must petition the Commission before raising their rates. BHP applied for a rate increase in March 2014. As required by SDCL chapter 43-34A, BHP submitted a cost analysis with its petition. The cost analysis included the "test year" required by ARSD 20:10:13:43. The test year is used by the Commission in its analysis of whether the utility's costs merit a rate increase. The utility must apply for the rate increase within six months of the end of the test year. BHP's test year ran from September 30, 2012, to September 30, 2013. If granted, the rate increase for a typical customer would be approximately $10.91 per month.

         [¶4.] In June 2014, BHII filed a motion to intervene in BHP's rate-increase application, which the Commission granted. The Commission, BHP, and BHII exchanged discovery and began negotiations to settle and stipulate to the rate increase. BHP filed a joint motion for approval of the settlement stipulation in December 2014, and the Commission held a hearing on the matter in January 2015. One of the issues the parties debated at the hearing was BHP's pension expenses. In its cost analysis, BHP averaged its pension expenses over the five-year period from 2010 to 2014, while BHII argued that the actual costs from 2014 should be used. BHII would later argue that a five-year period from 2011 to 2015 would be most appropriate.

         [¶5.] Before the Commission voted on the matter, BHP filed an amended settlement stipulation. This amendment removed a previous cost allocation of $286, 000 to one of BHP's affiliates and replaced that amount with $413, 000 for expenses related to a power plant. The Commission considered the amended stipulation and voted to approve the settlement.

         [¶6.] BHII appealed the approval of the amended settlement stipulation to the circuit court, which affirmed the Commission's decision. BHII now appeals to this Court, arguing three issues:

1. Whether the Commission misinterpreted ARSD 20:10:13:44 by allowing BHP to make adjustments to its cost calculation ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.