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PSC: No authority over electric service to casino

The Public Service Commission has dismissed a complaint by North Central Electric Cooperative against Otter Tail Power Company. As Prairie Public's Dave Thompson reports, the PSC says it doesn’t have jurisdiction.

The issue in question is service to a casino complex in Belcourt. It’s on trust land in the TurtleMountainreservation. The tribal government signed a 10-year contract with Otter Tail to provide power to the Sky Dancer Hotel and Casino. North Central Cooperative had served the original casino building.

North Central filed a complaint with the PSC under the state’s “territorial integrity” act. But the Commission says because it is sovereign land, it has no jurisdiction.

“It, basically by virtue of past court precedent, has nullified this commission's ability to enact the TIA," said Commission Chairman Tony Clark. "That means there cannot only be wasteful duplication of service, but there can really be utility shopping in a way that doesn't take place anywhere else in the country.”

“Quite honestly, I would have liked to find a way to keep it as North Central territory, said Commissioner Brian Kalk. "But It think it's pretty clear that Otter Tail has the right to do this.”

The Commission's decision could be appealed to the district courts.

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