SECTION 1. It is hereby found and declared that electrical load aggregation programs empower municipalities to create new electricity supply offerings that provide customized solutions addressing their consumers’ needs and reflecting the municipality’s capabilities. Such solutions may provide benefits including, but not limited to, electricity cost control, reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, support for renewable energy development and facilitation of beneficial electrification. Further, electrical load aggregation programs may provide residential and small business consumers access to solutions that they could not find otherwise. For municipalities to effectively offer such solutions, they must be empowered both to create and adapt their electrical load aggregation programs in a timely manner and to communicate with the electricity consumers within their community using methods that reflect local needs and preferences. Therefore, it is found that it is in the public interest to promote electrical load aggregation programs through enactment of the following statutory changes.
SECTION 2. Section 1 of chapter 164 of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2022 official edition, is hereby amended by inserting the following definition:
"Public Aggregator” means a municipality or group of municipalities that groups interested electricity consumers within its municipal boundaries to facilitate or otherwise arrange the purchase and sale of electric energy and energy-related services through an electrical load aggregation program as set forth in section 134.
SECTION 3. Section 134 of chapter 164 of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2022 official edition, is hereby amended by striking out subsection (a) and inserting in place thereof the following:
(a) (1) Any municipality or any group of municipalities acting together within the commonwealth is hereby authorized to aggregate the electrical load of interested electricity consumers within its boundaries on an opt-out basis pursuant to the process described herein; provided, however, that such municipality or group of municipalities shall not aggregate electrical load if such are served by an existing municipal lighting plant. Such public aggregator may group retail electricity consumers to solicit bids, broker, and contract for electric energy and energy-related services for such consumers. Such public aggregator may enter into agreements for services to facilitate the sale and purchase of electric energy and energy-related services including renewable energy certificates, which may be considered contracts for energy or energy-related services under clause (33) of subsection (b) of section 1 of chapter 30B. Such service agreements may be entered into by a single city, town, or by a group of cities or towns.
A public aggregator shall not be considered a utility engaging in the wholesale purchase and resale of electric power. Providing electric energy or energy-related services to
aggregated consumers within a municipality or group of municipalities shall not be considered a wholesale utility transaction.
A town may initiate a process to aggregate electrical load upon authorization by a majority vote of town meeting or town council. A city may initiate a process to authorize electrical load aggregation by a majority vote of the city council, with the approval of the mayor, or the city manager in a Plan D or Plan E city. Two or more municipalities may as a group initiate a process jointly to authorize electrical load aggregation by a majority vote of each particular municipality as herein required.
Upon an affirmative vote to initiate said process, a public aggregator establishing an electrical load aggregation program on an opt-out basis pursuant to this subsection shall, in consultation with the department of energy resources pursuant to section 6 of chapter 25A, develop an electrical load aggregation plan for public review.
(2) Any electrical load aggregation plan developed pursuant to this subsection shall provide for universal access, reliability, and equitable treatment of all classes of consumers. Said plan shall include the following structural elements: an organizational structure for program management and decision making; its methods of setting and providing funding for program services and administration (provided that all funds collected are used solely for the benefit of program participants); its methods of setting program prices; the rights and responsibilities of program participants; and its method for terminating the program. Recognizing that implementation elements such as specific program practices, offerings, and services to be provided may not be known at the time of plan development and are likely to change over time, the public aggregator may include a description of implementation elements, as further described herein, however specific details, initial or otherwise, shall not be required elements of the plan.
(3) Any electrical load aggregation plan developed pursuant to this subsection shall be filed with the department by the public aggregator or an entity acting on its behalf. The department shall approve any plan or revised plan that includes the structural elements described above. Prior to the department’s decision, the department shall conduct a public hearing. Failure by the department to approve or reject a plan or revised plan submitted under this subsection within 90 days of its submission date shall constitute approval of the plan. Such constructive approval shall not exempt the public aggregator from complying with the provisions of this subsection. If after review, the department finds that the plan or revised plan does not include the structural elements, it shall reject the plan and send to the public aggregator a denial order containing the reason for the rejection. The public aggregator may revise the plan to address such reasons and, if such revised plan is submitted not more than 30 days after the department’s denial order is issued, the public aggregator shall not be required to consult with the department of energy resources regarding the revised plan or submit the revised plan for public review. The department shall review and approve or reject any such revised plan not more than 30 days after receipt of the revised plan. Notwithstanding any provision of this subsection to the contrary, the department shall not direct or otherwise require revisions to, or impose new requirements on, an approved plan without first providing the public aggregator with notice and opportunity for an adjudication pursuant to either section 2 or section 10 of chapter 30A.
(4) After obtaining approval of its plan, the public aggregator shall establish and update as necessary all implementation elements of and changes to its program including, but not limited to: rates to support the provision of electric energy and program and energy-related services; supply terms; timing of program start; product offerings both on an opt-out and opt-in basis (if applicable), including any periodic changes in the price or composition of such product offerings; contract terms and conditions for electric energy and energy-related services; the format and mechanisms for delivering all notices to consumers; accommodating consumers with limited English proficiency; and any other specifics of program implementation, consistent with the structural elements of the approved electrical load aggregation plan. Such changes shall not require the public aggregator to file a revision to the approved electrical load aggregation plan with the department; provided, however, that the public aggregator shall document all then-current specifics of program implementation on a public website it maintains. The public aggregator shall submit to the department for approval any revision that the public aggregator seeks to make to the structural elements of an approved plan, in accordance with the department review process described above.
(5) The department shall prioritize the duties of public aggregators established in this subjection, including but not limited to program implementation of energy and energy-related services offered on an opt-in basis, and waive department rules, regulations, and directives concerning suppliers, brokers, and the provision of competitive supply that otherwise conflict or overlap.
(6) After obtaining approval of its plan, the public aggregator may enroll consumers in the electrical load aggregation program. Participation by any retail consumer in an electrical load aggregation program pursuant to this subsection shall be voluntary. Consumers that are receiving generation service from basic service shall be eligible for automatic enrollment in the opt-out product of the electrical load aggregation program. It shall be the duty of the public aggregator to disclose to eligible consumers in advance of automatic enrollment that they are to be automatically enrolled and that they have the right to opt-out of the program without penalty. In addition, such disclosure shall prominently state all program charges to be made, that the consumer shall remain enrolled in the electrical load aggregation program unless they opt out, that the public aggregator will issue public notice in advance of any price changes, and the basic service rate, how to access it, and the fact that it is available to them without penalty. Such disclosure must be mailed to eligible consumers and provide a period of not less than 30 days for the consumer to opt-out before being automatically enrolled. Consumers may also affirmatively elect to enroll in a product offered by the electrical load aggregation program. The electrical load aggregation program shall allow any retail consumer to opt-out and choose any supplier or provider such retail consumer wishes. Once enrolled in the program via the opt-out process, any consumer choosing to opt-out within 180 days shall do so without penalty and shall be entitled to receive basic service as if the consumer was originally enrolled therein. After the initial automatic enrollment of consumers, the subsequent enrollment of new consumers or accounts in the service territory of the public aggregator shall be governed by the terms for enrollment set forth in the public aggregator’s plan. Nothing in this subsection shall be construed as authorizing any city or town or any public aggregator to restrict the ability of retail electric consumers to obtain or receive service from any authorized provider thereof.
(7) The public aggregator shall provide public notice 30 days, or as soon as the rate is finalized, in advance of any change in program product, price or content affecting participating consumers. Such notice shall include the new combination(s) of product(s) and price(s) to be offered by the program, and that participating consumers have the right to opt-out of the program. In the event of such changes, participating consumers shall continue to be enrolled in the program unless they opt-out. In addition, at least once every three years, the public aggregator shall disclose by mail to consumers then-participating in any opt-in product of the electrical load aggregation the following information: the price and description of their current product, the price and description of the program’s opt-out product, and the website address where they can find all program implementation elements.
(8) Except as otherwise provided in this subsection, the public aggregator may deliver consumer disclosures and other communications about the electrical load aggregation program using one or more methods deemed most effective by the public aggregator.
(9) After obtaining approval of its plan, the public aggregator may deliver information and educational materials regarding its program to each consumer within the municipality or municipalities. To enable such delivery, the electric distribution company shall provide to such public aggregator a current list of the names, mailing addresses, email addresses, and service addresses of all electric consumers taking distribution service within the municipality or municipalities. To facilitate consumer notification and automatic enrollment via the opt-out process, the electric distribution company shall identify in such data those consumers that are eligible for automatic enrollment on an opt-out basis and provide such additional consumer information necessary for such automatic enrollment. To monitor program participation, the electric distribution company shall identify in such data those consumers that are participating in the electrical load aggregation program. To enable development of and bidding for electric energy and energy-related services, the electric distribution company shall provide all historical usage and demand information, including interval meter data if collected by the consumer’s meter, for the preceding 24 months for consumers eligible for automatic enrollment as well as for participating consumers. The public aggregator may use such data only in connection with the aggregation program and for no other purpose. Further, the public aggregator may only use email addresses provided in such data for communications on behalf of the electrical load aggregation program. All data associated with an individual electricity consumer obtained by the public aggregator shall be exempt from the definition of a “public record” under M.G.L. c.4 §7 and the public aggregator shall protect such data as confidential. The public aggregator shall not share, disclose, or otherwise make accessible to any third party such data except where directly necessary in its implementation of the electrical load aggregation program and where subject to non-disclosure requirements.
(10) Each public aggregator shall file an annual report with the department that shall be limited to the average number of program participants and energy sales by month by program product. Each such annual report shall prominently identify the location of the public website maintained for the program.
SECTION 4. The terms of Sections 2 and 3 shall be applicable to all plans pending before the department as of the effective date and the department’s failure to approve or reject such plans within 90 days of the effective date shall constitute approval of said plans. Public aggregators with plans approved by or pending before the department as of the effective date shall be subject to the terms of Sections 2 and 3 but shall not be required to file amendments to said plans for department review and approval. Public aggregators electing not to file plan amendments with the department shall instead within 90 days of the effective date of this act provide public notice of (i) this act, (ii) any resulting effect on programs, and (iii) the location of the program website. Such public aggregators shall notify the department of completion of such public notice.
SECTION 5. The department shall, within 60 days of the effective date of this act, issue an order directing that each electric distribution company shall, upon request of a public aggregator with an approved plan, provide to such public aggregator a current list of the names, mailing addresses, email addresses, and service addresses of all electric consumers taking distribution service within the municipality or municipalities.
SECTION 6. Section 7, clause twenty-six of chapter 4 of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2022 official edition, is hereby amended by inserting the following:
(w) All data associated with an individual electricity consumer obtained by a public aggregator, as defined in section 1 of Chapter 164.
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