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ROSEBUD TRIBAL UTILITY COMMISSION DRAFTING NEW RESIDENTIAL DISCONNECTION ORDINANCE

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REPORT

Tribal Utility Commission

The Rosebud Sioux Tribe has annually adopted state regulations governing electricity disconnection protocol for residential customers.

 Tribal Utility Commission has annually adopted the South Dakota state regulations governing the disconnection of residential electricity customers.

This year is no different.

The rule in South Dakota Codified Law says a utility may not disconnect residential service from Nov. 1 to  March 31, without adding an additional 30 days before disconnecting service. The utility is further required to notify the customer before the normal disconnection date that the customer has an additional 30 days until disconnection.

Because of the limitations of South Dakota law, and the directive contained in Title 20 of the RST Law & Order Code, the Tribal Utility Commission is in the process of drafting a new residential disconnect policy.

The new policy will be far more robust than the state code, and will include restrictions on disconnecting residential customers both summer and winter during times of extreme weather. The Tribal Utility Commission’s attorney, Mary Turgeon Wynne, is finalizing a draft of the code, which will be presented to reservation residents within a month.

The new code is the culmination of reviewing all state residential disconnect laws, selecting the best practices from each state and modifying them to meet the needs of residents of the Rosebud Reservation. 

Once a draft of the residential disconnect policy is available, the Utility Commission will hold a public hearing to allow customers and utility companies on the reservation to comment on the proposed legislation.

Before the new law is adopted, it will need to be read in two open RST Council meetings, and receive a three-quarter majority vote of the 20 council members. 

Tribal Utility commissioners are hoping the new law can be adopted by the first of the year. Until then, the tribe has adopted the South Dakota Winter Disconnect Policy (SDCL 20:10:20:10), which reservation area utilities are legally bound to follow.

The failure of Cherry-Todd Electric Co-op. to follow winter disconnect policies in the past has resulted in these violations being incorporated into the civil complaint filed by the tribe in RST Court. This lawsuit is scheduled for trial in January.

An advance copy of the new code is available at the Tribal Utility Commission offices located on Main Street in Mission. The phone no. is (605) 856-2727.

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