Section 9: Massachusetts Renewable Energy Trust Fund
Section 9. (a) There is hereby established and placed within the center a separate fund to be known as the Massachusetts Renewable Energy Trust Fund, hereinafter referred to as the trust fund. The center shall hold the trust fund in an account or accounts separate from other funds. There shall be credited to the trust fund all amounts collected under section 20 of chapter 25 and any income derived from the investment of amounts credited to the trust fund. All amounts credited to the trust fund shall be held in trust and used solely for activities and expenditures consistent with the public purpose of the trust fund as set forth in subsection (b), including the ordinary and necessary expenses of administration and operation associated with the trust fund. Unless otherwise specified, all monies of the center, from whatever source derived, shall be paid to the treasurer of the center. Such monies shall be deposited, in the first instance, by the treasurer in national banks, in trust companies, savings banks and cooperative banks chartered under the laws of the commonwealth, or in other banking companies in compliance with section 34 of chapter 29. Funds in these accounts shall be paid out on the warrant or other order of the treasurer of the center and the director of the trust fund or other person that the board may authorize to execute warrants.
(b) The center may make expenditures from the trust fund for the public purpose of generating the maximum economic and environmental benefits over time from renewable energy to the ratepayers of the commonwealth through a series of initiatives which exploit the advantages of renewable energy in a more competitive energy marketplace by: (i) promoting the increased availability, use and affordability of renewable energy; (ii) by making operational improvements to existing renewable energy projects and facilities which, in the determination of the center, would yield more significant results in the development of renewable energy if such funds were made available for the creation of new renewable energy facilities; and (iii) by fostering the formation, growth, expansion and retention within the commonwealth of preeminent clusters of renewable energy and related enterprises, institutions and projects which serve the citizens of the commonwealth consistent with a strategic plan or annual operational plan.
(c) Public interests to be advanced through the center's actions shall include, but shall not be limited to, the following: (i) the development and increased use and affordability of renewable energy resources in the commonwealth and the New England region; (ii) the protection of the environment and the health of the citizens of the commonwealth through the prevention, mitigation and alleviation of the adverse pollution effects associated with certain electricity generation facilities; (iii) the maximization of benefits to consumers of the commonwealth resulting from increased fuel and supply diversity; (iv) the creation of additional employment opportunities in the commonwealth through the development of renewable technologies including, but not limited to, promoting programs and investments that lead to pathways toward economic self-sufficiency for low- and moderate-income individuals and communities in the clean energy industry; (v) the stimulation of increased public and private sector investment in, and competitive advantage for, renewable energy and related enterprises, institutions and projects in the commonwealth and the New England region; and (vi) the stimulation of entrepreneurial activities in these and related enterprises, institutions and projects.
(d) In furtherance of any strategic and operational plans, and other public purposes and interests, the center may expend monies from the trust fund to: make grants, contracts, loans, equity investments, energy production credits, bill credits or rebates to customers; provide financial or debt service obligation assistance; or take any other action, in such forms, under such terms and conditions and under such selection procedures as the center deems appropriate and otherwise in a manner consistent with good business practices; provided, however, that the center shall generally employ a preference for competitive procurements; provided further, that the center shall endeavor to leverage the full range of the resources, expertise and participation of other state and federal agencies and instrumentalities in the design and implementation of programs conducted pursuant to this section; and provided further, that the board determines and incorporates into the minutes of its proceedings a finding that such actions are calculated to advance the public purpose and public interests set forth in this section including, but not limited to, the following: (i) the growth of the renewable energy-provider industry; (ii) the use of renewable energy by electricity customers in the commonwealth; (iii) public education and training regarding renewable energy including, but not limited to, promoting programs and investments that lead to pathways toward economic self-sufficiency for low- and moderate-income individuals and communities in the clean energy industry; (iv) product and market development; (v) pilot and demonstration projects and other activities designed to increase the use and affordability of renewable energy resources by and for consumers in the commonwealth; (vi) the provision of financing in support of the development and application of related technologies at all levels including, but not limited to, basic and applied research and commercialization activities; (vii) the design and making of improvements to existing renewable energy projects and facilities as defined herein which were in operation as of December 31, 1997; and (viii) matters related to the conservation of scarce energy resources.
(e) Subject to the approval of the board and not inconsistent with any strategic or annual operational plans, investment activity of monies from the trust fund may consist of the following: (i) an equity fund to provide risk capital to renewable energy enterprises, institutions and projects; (ii) a debt fund to provide loans to energy enterprises, institutions, projects, intermediaries and end-users; and (iii) a market growth assistance fund to be used to attract private capital to the equity and debt funds. To implement these investment activities, the center may retain, through a bid process, public or private sector investment fund managers, who shall have prior knowledge and experience in fund management and possess related skills in renewable energy and related technologies development, to direct the investment activity described in this section and to seek other trust fund co-sponsors to contribute public and private capital from the commonwealth and other states; provided, however, that such capital shall be appropriately segregated. Subject to the approval of the board, the managers may retain necessary services and consultants to carry out the purposes of the trust fund. The managers shall develop a business plan to guide investment decisions which shall be approved by the board before any expenditure from the trust fund and which shall be consistent with the plan for the trust fund as adopted by the board.
(f) For the purposes of expenditures from the trust fund, renewable energy technologies eligible for assistance shall mean technologies eligible as class I or class II renewable energy generating sources under section 11F of chapter 25A, micro-combined heat and power units less than 60 kilowatts, solar hot water, geothermal heating and cooling projects, biomass thermal and storage and conversion technologies connected to qualifying generation projects. The board may make grants from the trust fund, not to exceed a total of $4,000,000 annually, in support of Massachusetts-based public and private enterprises developing new technologies to significantly increase the efficiency of the internal combustion engine. The center shall make grants, loans or other support from the trust fund, not to exceed $3,000,000 annually for hydroelectric facilities, other than pumped storage facilities in the commonwealth, constructed before December 31, 1997 for upgrades to increase efficiency or capacity and to reduce environmental impacts. Such funds may also be used for appropriate joint energy efficiency and renewable projects, as well as for investment by distribution companies in renewable energy and distributed generation opportunities, if consistent with this section; provided, however that the following technologies or fuels shall not be considered renewable energy supplies: coal, oil, natural gas except when used in fuel cells or micro-combined heat and power and nuclear power.
(g) The use by the center of monies to implement this section shall be deemed to be an essential governmental function. No lease or license executed in furtherance of the public purpose and interests of the trust fund shall exceed 30 years in duration, and the duration and terms shall be developed in a manner consistent with good business practices; and provided further, that the center shall take no action which contravenes the commonwealth's reversionary interest in any of its real property. The center, any purchasing cooperative established thereby and all members of any such purchasing cooperative may participate in any energy-related purchasing, aggregating or similar program established and operated by the Health and Educational Facilities Authority, established by section 4 of chapter 614 of the acts of 1968, and such participation shall be deemed to be in furtherance of an essential governmental function.
Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, including without limitation any laws related to the procurement of electricity, as a condition subsequent to the prior transfer of $17,000,000 from the trust fund to the commonwealth for deposit in the General Fund authorized by section 183 of chapter 26 of the acts of 2003, the commonwealth, acting by and through the department of energy resources or a successor agency, shall enter into an agreement with the center under which the commonwealth, at the direction of the center, shall enter into contracts, for terms not to exceed 20 years, with owners of facilities that generate electricity using renewable energy technologies, wholesale power marketers or other market intermediaries selling such electricity, for the purchase by the commonwealth, for its own use or for the use of any municipal electric department, public instrumentality or other governmental or nongovernmental entity in the commonwealth, of electricity produced by renewable energy technologies. The center shall determine the particular types of technologies which shall be the subject of any such contract based on such criteria as it shall deem advisable, including without limitation retail consumer choices of such renewable energy technologies. The aggregate dollar amount of the green power premium associated with electricity purchases to be made by the commonwealth for its own use under such contracts shall have a present value, determined according to such discount rate as shall be mutually agreeable to the center and the commonwealth, of such amount as shall be transferred pursuant to the first sentence of this paragraph. The green power premium shall be determined by subtracting from the total amount of the purchase price the undifferentiated commodity price for electricity under then-current commonwealth contracts. The maximum payment in any 1 fiscal year under all such contracts shall not exceed $5,000,000. The commonwealth shall be indemnified under such contracts by the owners or power marketers on such terms as the center shall deem commercially reasonable. The amounts collected pursuant to section 20 of chapter 25 shall be impressed with a trust for the benefit of the trust fund. To facilitate the purchase by the center of electricity produced by renewable energy technologies or of certificates produced under the renewable energy portfolio standard regulations of the department of energy resources representing the generation attributes of electrical energy produced by renewable energy technologies, and in consideration of the sale of such electricity or certificates, the commonwealth shall covenant with the sellers of such electricity or certificates that the amounts collected under said section 20 of said chapter 25 shall not be diverted from the trust fund and that the rates of the mandatory charges under said section 20 of said chapter 25 shall not be reduced during the term of any contract entered into by the center for the purchase of such electricity or certificates below a level which shall enable the center to fulfill the terms of such contracts; provided, however, that the term of any such contract shall not exceed 20 years. In furtherance of the public purposes of the trust fund, income derived from the investment of amounts collected under said section 20 of said chapter 25 shall be expended by the center as provided in subsection (a) and, in the discretion of the center, in furtherance of the public purposes of the center and for such costs of departments and agencies that support or are otherwise consistent with the purposes of the trust fund.