Minutes of Regular Meeting Northwest Rural Public Power District Board of Directors July 26, 2012, Unapproved

The regular meeting of directors of Northwest Rural Public Power District was held in the Conference Room of the District July 26, 2012, at 1:00 p.m.

The meeting was called to order by the president, Gary Fuchser. Directors who answered the roll call were Bruce Troester, Gary Fuchser, Mike Van Buskirk, Wayne Cobb, Lee Ahrens, and Jim Johnson. Robert Rickenbach was absent. 

Also present were Rolland Skinner, manager; Arlene Lahaye, office manager; Les Tlustos, consumer services; Ron Housh, planning engineer; Terry Curtiss, District Counsel, Marjean Terrell, Rick Bridge, Joe Heiting.

The Open Meeting Law posting was acknowledged. 

All votes are unanimous upon a roll call vote unless noted.

A motion was made by Bruce Troester, duly seconded by Wayne Cobb to accept the order of business as published and supplemented at this meeting; motion carried.

A motion was made by Wayne Cobb, duly seconded Lee Ahrens, that the minutes of the meetings held June 28th be approved; motion carried.

A motion was made by Wayne Cobb, duly seconded by Mike Van Buskirk to excuse Robert Rickenbach’s absence; motion carried

Terry Curtiss addressed the Board on the issue of contracts for managers. Mr. Curtiss stated that he had a discussion with Dave Jarecke, NREA Counsel, on the use of contracts with their managers. Most Nebraska systems do not have contracts with their managers; they consider managers to be at will employees. Rolland Skinner, manager, then addressed the Board that he felt this is an attempt to fabricate something. These fabrications affect not only the employees but their families as well; it also affects the productivity of staff. System benchmarks are addressed each year in NRPPD’s yearend report; all benchmarks are satisfactory as shown in the reports. Rolland also referenced the wage issue in that there are 4 other managers in the state that make about the same as him, 12 making less and 16 making more. Northwest Rural’s performance is above state average and is recognized by NREA, NRECA and CFC. He has worked as NRPPD’s manager for 38 years without a contract and questions why one is needed now.

Mike Van Buskirk questioned the District’s liability of wrong doing by the manager and no contract was in place. Mr. Curtiss explained the Political Subdivision Tort Claims Act and the limits of liability and the immunity for the District therein.

Wayne Cobb expressed his opinion on the issue of a manager’s contract; he then made a motion to leave as is and do not have a manager contract. The motion was duly seconded by Jim Johnson. Lee Ahrens, aye; Mike Van Buskirk, nay; Bruce Troester, aye; Jim Johnson, aye; Wayne Cobb, aye; Gary Fuchser, aye; motion carried.

Rolland Skinner introduced Kevin Groves, West Plains Engineering, to the Board. Mr. Groves is the engineer Northwest Rural has been using for the past three years and is assisting with the design of the Rush Creek Substation and the 34.5 line.

Mr. Skinner then provided a review of financing options, value and need for the proposed 2012-2016 Construction Work Plan. A discussion was held on the estimated dollars per project and the financing plan for the Construction Work Plan.

Kevin Groves then addressed the Board and explained the Work Plan projects what was needed and how it would rebuild and strengthen the system. A discussion was held on the work plan. A motion was made by Lee Ahrens, duly seconded by Wayne Cobb to accept the 2012-2916 Construction Work Plan; motion carried.

Kevin Groves and Ron Housh left the meeting at 2:55 p.m.

Les Tlustos asked for board approval on two articles that he would like to publish in our REN Insert. One of the articles is information on the construction of the Rush Creek Substation south of Rushville and automated meters. The other article is a safety article dealing with high voltage line contacts. A discussion was held and a motion was made by Jim Johnson, duly seconded by Wayne Cobb to approve the articles for the REN Insert; motion carried.

The office manager reviewed the June Cash Flow report. Graphs on purchased and sold power, demand and cash flow were reviewed. A discussion was held on the all time peak hit in June and the even higher peak for the month of July. The mills per kwh for the month of July is estimated at under 70 at this time. A motion was made by Bruce Troester, duly seconded by Mike Van Buskirk to accept the June Financial Reports; motion carried.

Russ Reichenberg joined the meeting at 3:20 p.m.

Ron Housh rejoined the meeting at 3:40 p.m.

Ron Housh updated the Board on the construction project south of Rushville. Poles are framed for approximately 5.5 miles; the contractors have picked up the material for the second work order. The dirt work for the substation is complete; are working getting fencing, conduit work, ground grid and concrete done by late August/September time frame.

Russ Reichenberg informed the Board that the line crew is within two days of having the conversion done. The crew converted approximately 8 miles of line from 7200 to 14.4. Russ stated that along with this work the crew has been able to keep up with customer requests.

Ron Housh reported on load control, we have less than 30 wells still on control and we have been controlling daily. In June we exceed the 2007 all time peak by 14%, but in July the peak is 24% higher than the 2007 peak. The July power bill will be approximately $1.12M and the June was $1.05M. With the drought irrigators are trying to keep up.

Russ Reichenberg reviewed the June Safety and Training Report. The non-NRPPD personnel incidents, near miss and training that occurred during the month were discussed. A motion was made by Wayne Cobb, duly seconded by Jim Johnson to accept the June Safety Report; motion carried. 

The Board was informed that we are currently experiencing a power outage that includes the office. The generator that was installed kicked in as it was designed to do.

The Board was shown equipment that started some fires and Russ Explained the plan on what is going to be done to identify the problem connections and then go around and replace them.

Russ also informed that Board that in about two weeks the radio repeaters are scheduled to be installed at Gordon and Chadron and remotes in the office. The trucks will be getting digital signal and hopefully a tower at Metcalf.

The camera system has been installed and we are still working on getting the lighting installed.

NEA lost one of their transformers and we fed 500 kW at Marsland and 100 kW at Joder. 

Wayne Cobb reported on the Tri-State Meeting. Tri-State is below budget and the board is working on the budget for 2013. Tri-State will be implementing the new rate. The Contract Committee is working on the new contract. And the EPA and other regulatory issues are ongoing.

A motion was made by Bruce Troester, duly seconded by Jim Johnson to go into an executive session at 4:20 PM to discuss NPSIG issues. Lee Ahrens, aye; Mike Van Buskirk, aye; Bruce Troester, aye; Jim Johnson, aye; Wayne Cobb, abstain; Gary Fuchser, aye; motion carried. Ron Housh, Les Tlustos, Arlene Lahaye, Russ Reichenberg, Marjean Terrell, Wayne Cobb, Joe Heiting, and Rick Bridge left the meeting.

A motion was made by Jim Johnson, duly seconded by Mike Van Buskirk to come out of an executive session at 4:30 PM. Lee Ahrens, aye; Mike Van Buskirk, aye; Bruce Troester, aye; Jim Johnson, aye; Wayne Cobb, abstain; Gary Fuchser, aye; motion carried. Les Tlustos, Arlene Lahaye, Marjean Terrell, Wayne Cobb, Joe Heiting, and Rick Bridge rejoined the meeting.

Arrangements for the upcoming NREA meeting were discussed.

The Chairman opened the floor for public comment.

Joe Heiting – Why did the Board hire another attorney and why Mr. Curtiss was at the meeting? Mr. Curtiss, Rolland Skinner and Bruce Troester explained that due the concern that Mr. Curtiss had a conflict of interest from those at the meeting in May and June. As stated at the June meeting our liability carrier agreed that it is appropriate to obtain separate counsel, for the Board, for the NADC issue only. Mr. Curtiss is still the District Counsel for all other matters. 

Rick Bridge – Why didn’t the board meeting start at 9 a.m.? Starting at 1 p.m. was not convenient. Rolland Skinner explained that the meetings have for many years started at 1 p.m., the Board may have come in the mornings, but the official meeting did not start until 1 p.m. and that was the only time that official business could be conducted.

Joe Heiting – Wanted to know how to get on the agenda. He was told to call the president and make a request to be put on the agenda. 

There being no further business to come before the Board, the President declared the meeting adjourned at 4:55 P.M..

Approved: President

Signed: Secretary

Published: August 15, 2012