Section 47C: Municipal lighting plant cooperatives
Section 47C. (a) Any municipal lighting plant created in a manner provided for in this chapter shall be allowed to form cooperative public corporations for the purpose of furnishing efficient, low cost, and reliable electric power and energy-related services and cable television services as provided in this section.
(b) A municipal lighting plant cooperative established pursuant to the provisions of this section shall constitute a body politic and corporate and is constituted a public instrumentality, and the exercise of the powers conferred by this section shall be deemed and held to be the performance of an essential public function.
(c) Any number of municipal lighting plants may associate themselves together and with other public corporations, established under the laws of the commonwealth or any other state or the federal government, as a municipal lighting plant 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 or the provision of cable television services subject to the same federal and state laws and regulations applicable to municipal lighting plants or other public entities that provide those services.
(d) A municipal lighting plant cooperative may be formed for any purpose stated in subsection (c) which may lawfully be carried out by any other corporation; provided, that a municipal lighting plant cooperative shall be organized and shall conduct its business primarily for the mutual benefit of its members as patrons of the cooperative. A municipal lighting plant 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 municipal lighting plant cooperative 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 in any form or other services;
(xvii) To purchase, acquire, distribute, sell, resell, supply, and provide any energy or energy-related services to wholesale or retail customers within or without the commonwealth;
(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 municipal light plant cooperative organized under subsection (a), other than consumers served by municipal light plants which are not members of a municipal light plant cooperative, 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;
(xxi) To have and exercise all powers necessary or convenient to effect its purposes;
(xxii) To exercise and perform all or part of its power and functions through one or more wholly-owned or partly-owned corporations or other business entities; and
(xxiii) To exercise all other powers not inconsistent with the state constitution or the United States Constitution, which may be reasonably necessary or appropriate for or incidental to the effectuation of its authorized purposes or to the exercise of any of the foregoing powers, and generally to exercise in connection with its property and affairs, and in connection with property within its control, any and all powers which might be exercised by a natural person or a private corporation in connection with similar property and affairs.
(e) A municipal lighting plant 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.
(f) Any municipal lighting plant 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.
(g) The provisions of chapter 258 shall apply to the municipal lighting plant cooperatives established under the provisions of this section as if said municipal lighting plant cooperatives were municipal lighting plants.
(h) 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.
(i) 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.
(j) Except as provided for herein, a municipal lighting plant cooperative shall be exempt from paying taxes, including, but not limited to taxes on its income and real and personal property situated within the commonwealth and owned by the municipal light plant cooperative; provided, however, that the cooperative shall agree, in lieu of property taxes, to pay to any governmental body authorized to levy local property taxes the amount which would be assessable as local property taxes on the real and tangible personal property if such property were the property of a domestic corporation; provided, further, that no such municipal lighting plant cooperative shall be allowed to commence any such operations allowed pursuant to this section or exercise any such powers pursuant to subsection (d) until such payment in lieu of taxes is executed. The cooperative shall pay all sales or excise taxes which are properly assessed on its business activities under this section to the extent such taxes are assessed against domestic corporations.
(k) A municipal lighting plant cooperative created pursuant to the provisions of this section shall be exempt from the public records requirement of section 10 of chapter 66 and the open meeting requirements of section 23B of chapter 39 only in those instances when necessary for protecting trade secrets, confidential, competitively sensitive or other proprietary information provided in the course of proceedings conducted pursuant to this chapter.
(l) The activities of a municipal lighting plant cooperative shall not be imputed to its individual members and the provision of energy brokering and other energy-related services by a municipal lighting plant cooperative to retail customers without any accompanying sale of electricity to such retail customers shall not constitute the supply of generation services by its members for the purposes of subsection (b) of section 47A.