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Tribal Utility Commission

The Rosebud Sioux Tribal Court, in granting a temporary injunction, concedes Cherry-Todd Electric failed to duly notify Tribal Utility Commission (TUC) with necessary information about a new January residential rate increase.

On Feb. 6, TUC filed an emergency injunction in tribal court to halt a sudden electric rate increase by Cherry-Todd Electric approved by its board in December. Some speculate the increase is to offset attorney fees to help battle a tribal lawsuit against the cooperative.

TUC claimed Cherry-Todd failed to provide adequate notice of intent to the commission and failed to provide information necessary to review the need for an increase.

Cherry-Todd Electric advertised the rate increase in the Sicangu Sun Times, with a cover story in the Todd County Tribune. An article by General Manger Tim Grablander also appeared in the utility’s monthly magazine.

Special Tribal Judge B.J. Jones ruled that Cherry-Todd is prohibited from raising electric rates of Indians living on the Rosebud Reservation, including tribal entities. The injunction will be in effect until further order of the court. The court has ordered briefs on the matter from both the Commission and Cherry-Todd.

Title 20 of RST Law & Order Code regulates all utilities doing business on the reservation. It specifically defines a notice requirement prior to raising their rates. The Commission then determines if the increase is justified. 

The rate increase on customers’ Feb. 6 bill is for January electric service. Indians enrolled in a federally recognized tribe living on the reservation and all tribal entities are not subject to the rate increase, by order of the tribal court.

However, the injunction does not affect Cherry-Todd’s non-Indian customers.

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