Section 136: Cooperatives
Section 136. (a) Any number of persons may associate themselves together as a cooperative, with or without capital stock, for the transaction of any lawful business associated with the purchase, acquisition, distribution, sale, resale, supply, and disposition of energy or energy-related services to wholesale or retail customers, subject to federal and state laws and regulations. Unless otherwise served by a municipal light plant constructed or acquired pursuant to the provisions of this chapter or special law, any natural person, firm, corporation, business trust, partnership, public or private agency, non-profit organization or corporation, cooperative, or local municipality may become a member or shareholder of a cooperative. Such member or shareholder may thus access any services the cooperative has to offer and participate in the governance of the cooperative as provided in this subsection or by the bylaws of the cooperative.
(b) A cooperative may be established for any purpose outlined in subsection (a) of this section that may lawfully be carried out by any other corporation; provided, that a cooperative shall be organized and shall conduct its business primarily for the mutual benefit of its members as patrons of the cooperative. A cooperative shall have all of the powers of a natural person, including the power to participate with others in any partnership, joint venture, or other association, transaction, or arrangement of any kind. In addition, each cooperative subject to this chapter shall have the following powers:
(i) To have perpetual succession by its corporate name unless a limited period of duration is stated in the articles of incorporation;
(ii) To sue and be sued, complain, and defend its corporate name;
(iii) To have and use a corporate seal;
(iv) To purchase, take, receive, lease, or otherwise acquire, own, hold, improve, use, and deal in and with real or personal property or any interest therein, wherever situated;
(v) To sell, convey, mortgage, pledge, lease, exchange, transfer, or otherwise dispose of all or any part of its property and assets;
(vi) To purchase, take, receive, subscribe for, or otherwise acquire, own, hold, vote, use, employ, sell, mortgage, lend, pledge, or otherwise dispose of, use, and deal in and with shares or other interest in, or obligations of, other domestic or foreign corporations, associations, partnerships, or individuals, or direct or indirect obligations of the United States or any other government, state, territory, governmental district, or municipality, or any instrumentality thereof;
(vii) To make contracts and incur liabilities, borrow money at rates of interest the cooperative may determine, issue notes, bonds, certificates of indebtedness, and other obligations, receive funds from members and pay interest thereon, issue capital stock and certificates representing equity interests in assets, allocate earnings and losses at the times and in the manner the articles of incorporation or bylaws or other contract specify, create book credits, capital funds, and reserves, and secure obligations by mortgage or pledge of any of its property, franchises, and income;
(viii) To lend money for corporate purposes, invest and reinvest funds, and take and hold real and personal property as security for the payment of funds loaned or invested;
(ix) To conduct business, carry on operations, have offices, and exercise the powers granted by this subsection, within or without this commonwealth;
(x) To elect or appoint officers and agents of the corporation, define their duties, and fix their compensation;
(xi) To make and alter bylaws, not inconsistent with its articles of incorporation or with the laws of this commonwealth, for the administration and regulation of the affairs of the cooperative;
(xii) To make donations for the public welfare or for charitable, scientific, or educational purposes;
(xiii) To pay pensions and establish pension plans, pension trusts, profit-sharing plans, stock bonus plans, stock option plans, and other incentive plans for any or all of its directors, officers, and employees;
(xiv) To be a partner, member, associate, or manager of any partnership, joint venture, trust, or other enterprise;
(xv) To cease corporate activities and surrender its corporate franchise;
(xvi) To purchase, acquire, distribute, sell, resell, supply, and dispose of energy or other services;
(xvii) To purchase, acquire, distribute, sell, resell, supply, and provide any energy or energy-related services to wholesale or retail customers;
(xviii) To have access on comparable terms to energy transportation systems for delivery of energy to its members and other customers;
(xix) To sell electricity to any consumer, including, but not limited to, a consumer that receives electric distribution, transmission, or other services from an entity other than the cooperative organized under subsection (a), other than consumers served by municipal light plants, that is selling such electricity to such consumer; provided, that an entity providing such distribution, transmission, or other services shall provide non-discriminatory access and pricing for the use of its property and services and shall otherwise facilitate such transactions;
(xx) To contract with natural persons, firms, corporations, business trusts, partnerships, public and private agencies, non-profit organizations and corporations, other cooperatives, and local municipalities to accomplish any purposes of the cooperative; and
(xxi) To have and exercise all powers necessary or convenient to effect its purposes.
(c) A cooperative organized pursuant to this section shall be managed by a board of not less than three directors. The directors shall be elected by and from the members of the cooperative at such time, in such manner, and for such term of office as the bylaws may prescribe and shall hold office during the term for which they were elected and until their successors are elected and qualified. Any vacancy occurring in the board of directors, and any directorship to be filled by reason of an increase in the number of directors, may be filled by the board of directors unless the articles of incorporation or the bylaws provide that a vacancy or directorship so created shall be filled in some other manner. A director elected or appointed to fill a vacancy shall be elected or appointed for the unexpired term of the predecessor in office.
(d) Any cooperative organized pursuant to the provisions of this section may enact bylaws to govern itself in the implementation of the provisions of this section which are not inconsistent with the provisions of this section.
(e) The right of a member of a cooperative to vote may be limited, enlarged, or denied to the extent specified in the articles of incorporation or bylaws. Unless so limited, enlarged, or denied, each member shall be entitled to one vote on each matter submitted to a vote of members.
(f) A member of the board of directors or an officer of any cooperative subject to the provisions of this section shall have immunity from liability equivalent to that granted to directors and officers of for-profit corporations in the commonwealth. Except for debts lawfully contracted between a member and the cooperative, no member shall be liable for the debts of the cooperative to an amount exceeding the sum remaining unpaid on his or her membership fee or subscription to capital stock.