Tribe's Choice Causes Lawsuit

Fortnightly Magazine - March 1 1996
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Madison Gas and Electric Co. (MGE) has filed a lawsuit in court and a complaint at the Wisconsin Public Service Commission (PSC) against Wisconsin Power & Light Co. (WP&L), because WP&L will provide electricity to the Ho-Chunk Tribe's new bingo hall, located in MGE territory.

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The 43-acre site does not currently receive service from either utility, but both have distribution infrastructure nearby. WP&L says its bid was $23,000 less than MGE's offer, but both MGE and the Wisconsin Public Service Commission have questioned the legality of WP&L providing service in MGE's territory. Although present state law only allows provision of service by a certificated utility in its own service territory, the tribe argues that it is excluded from the law as a sovereign nation.

MGE has asked the court for treble actual damages (em lost margins on electric sales made by WP&L (em as well as punitive damages and attorneys' fees. MGE has asked the PSC to require WP&L to remove any electric lines and related plant from MGE's service territory. (em LB t

Joseph F. Schuler, Jr. is associate editor of PUBLIC UTILITIES FORTNIGHTLY. Lori A. Burkhart is an associate legal editor.

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