State House, Boston Massachusetts Senate Bill 2017
Section 247.

First "Community Access" provision to become law in the United States; enacted by Legislature on November 19, 1997 and signed by Acting Governor Paul Cellucci in Boston on November 25, 1997

"An Act relative to restructuring the electric utility industry in the Commonwealth, regulating the provision of electricity and other services, and promoting enhanced consumer protection therein."

SECTION 247. Chapter 164 of the General Laws is hereby further amended by inserting after section 133, as so appearing, the following four sections:-

Section 134. (A) 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: provided, however, that such municipality or group of municipalities shall not aggregate retail load if such are served by an existing municipal light plant. Such municipality or group of municipalities may enter into agreements for services to facilitate the sale and purchase of electric energy and other related services. Such service agreements may be entered into by a single city, town, county, or by a group of cities, towns, or counties.

A municipality or group of municipalities which aggregates its electrical load and operates pursuant to the provisions of this section shall not be considered a utility engaging in the wholesale purchase and resale of electric power. Providing electric power or energy services to aggregated customers within a municipality or group of municipalities shall not be considered a wholesale utility transaction. The provision of aggregated electric power and energy services as authorized by this section shall be regulated by any applicable laws or regulations which govern aggregated electric power and energy services in competitive markets.

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 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 aggregation by a majority vote of each particular municipality as herein required.

Upon an affirmative vote to initiate said process, a municipality or group of municipalities establishing load aggregation pursuant to this section shall, in consultation with the division of energy resources, pursuant to section 6 of chapter 25A, develop a plan, for review by its citizens, detailing the process and consequences of aggregation. Any municipal load aggregation plan established pursuant to this section shall provide for universal access, reliability, and equitable treatment of all classes of customers and shall meet any requirements established by law or the department concerning aggregated service. Said plan shall be filed with the department, for its final review and approval, and shall include, without limitation, an organizational structure of the program, its operations, and its funding; rate setting and other costs to participants; the methods for entering and terminating agreements with other entities; the rights and responsibilities of program participants; and termination of the program. Prior to its decision, the department shall conduct a public hearing. The department shall not approve any such plan if the price for energy would initially exceed the price of the standard offer, as established pursuant to section 1B of this chapter, for such citizens in the municipality or group of municipalities, unless the applicant can demonstrate that the price for energy under the aggregation plan will be lower than the standard offer in the subsequent years or the applicant can demonstrate that such excess price is due to the purchase of renewable energy as described by the division of energy resources pursuant to chapter 25A.

Participation by any retail customer in a municipal or group aggregation program shall be voluntary. If such aggregated entity is not fully operational on the retail access date, any ratepayer to be automatically enrolled therein shall receive standard offer service unless affirmatively electing not to do so. Within 30 days of the date the aggregated entity is fully operational, such ratepayers shall be transferred to the aggregated entity according to an opt-out provision herein. Following adoption of aggregation through the votes specified above, sch program shall allow any retail customer to opt-out and choose any supplier or provider such retail customer wishes. Once enrolled in the aggregated entity, any ratepayer choosing to opt-out within 180 days shall do so without penalty and shall be entitled to receive standard offer service as if he was originally enrolled therein. Nothing in this section shall be construed as authorizing any city or town or any municipal retail load aggregator to restrict the ability of retail electric customers to obtain or receive service from any authorized provider thereof.

It shall be the duty of the aggregated entity to fully inform participating ratepayers in advance of automatic enrollment that they are to be automatically enrolled and that they have the right to opt-out of the aggregated entity without penalty. In addition, such disclosure shall prominently state all charges to be made and shall include full disclosure of the standard offer rate, how to access it, and the fact that it is available to them without penalty. The division of energy resources shall furnish, without charge, to any citizen a list of all other supply options available to them in a meaningful format that shall enable comparison of price and product.

(b) A municipality or group of municipalities establishing a load aggregation program pursuant to subsection (a) may, by a vote of its town meeting or legislative body, whichever is applicable, adopt an energy plan which shall define the manner in which the municipality or municipalities may implement demand side management programs and renewable energy programs that are consistent with any state energy conservation goals developed pursuant to chapter 25A or chapter 164. After adoption of the energy plan by such town meeting or other legislative body, the city or town clerk shall submit the plan to the department to certify that it is consistent with any such state energy conservation goals. If the plan is certified by the department, the municipality or group of municipalities may apply to the Massachusetts technology park corporation for monies from the Massachusetts renewable energy trust fund, established pursuant to subsection (a) of chapter 40J, and receive, and if approved, expend moneys from the demand side management system benefit charges or line charges in an amount not to exceed that contributed by retail customers within said municipality or group (sic) municipalities. This will not prevent said municipality or municipalities from applying to the Massachusetts Technology Park Corporation for additional funds. If the department determines that the energy plan is not consistent with any such state-wide goals, t shall inform the municipality or group of municipalities within six months by written notice the reasons why it is not consistent with any such state-wide goals. The municipality or group of municipalities may re-apply at anytime (sic) with an amended version of the energy plan.

The municipality or group of municipalities shall not be prohibited from proposing for certification an energy plan which is more specific, detailed, or comprehensive or which covers additional subject areas than any such state-wide conservation goals. This subsection shall not prohibit a municipality or group of municipalities from considering, adopting, enforcing, or in any other way administering an energy plan which does not comply with any such state-wide conservation goals so long as it does not violate the laws of the commonwealth.

The municipality or group of municipalities shall, within two years of approval of its plan or such further time as the department may allow, provide written notice to the department that its plan is implemented. The department may revoke certification of the energy plan if the municipality or group of municipalities fail sto substantially implement the plan or if it is determined by independent audit that the funds were misspent within the time allowed under this subsection.

Bill History

Bill relative to restructuring the electric utility industry in the Commonwealth, regulating the provision of electricity and other services, and promoting enhanced consumer protection therein.

11/10/97 H House, No. 5112, printed as amended by the House on Nov. 10
11/10/97 H Passed to be engrossed - 156 YEAS to 3 NAYS (See Yea and Nay in Supplement, No. 165)
11/10/97 H Motion to reconsider negatived -HJs 1092-1093
11/12/97 S Read; and referred to the committee on Senate Ways and Means -SJ 1097
11/13/97 S Committee recommended ought to pass with an amendment, inserting in place thereof the text of S2017; and by striking out the emergency preamble and inserting in place thereof a new emergency preamble
11/13/97 S Rules suspended
11/13/97 S Read second
11/13/97 S Amended by striking out all after the enacting clause and inserting in place thereof the text of S2017; and by striking out the emergency preamble and inserting in place thereof a new emergency preamble
11/13/97 S Ordered to a third reading
11/13/97 S Read third
11/13/97 S Postponed to November 17 -SJ 1101
11/13/97 S Order relative to the further consideration of this matter adopted -SJs 1101-1102
11/17/97 S For amendments at third reading, see actions posted on S2017
11/17/97 S For text of the Senate amendments, printed as amended, see S2025
11/17/97 S Passed to be engrossed - 33 YEAS to 5 NAYS (see Senate Roll Call, No. 164)
11/17/97 S Motion to reconsider negatived -SJs 1123-1179
11/18/97 H Rules suspended
11/18/97 H House NON-concurred in the Senate amendments
11/18/97 H Committee of conference (Bosley, Larkin and Gauch) appointed -HJ 1131
11/18/97 S Notice of House appointments received
11/18/97 S Senate insisted on its amendment
11/18/97 S Committee of conference (Morrissey, O'Brien and Rauschenbach) appointed, in concurrence -SJs 1193-1194
11/18/97 H Notice of Senate appointments received -HJ 1131
11/19/97 H Reported by committee of conference
11/19/97 H For report, see H5137
11/19/97 H Rules suspended
11/19/97 H Committee of conference report accepted - 124 YEAS to 30 NAYS (See Yea and Nay in Supplement, No. 179)
11/19/97 H Motion to reconsider negatived -HJ 1150
11/19/97 S Motion to limit the time for debate prevailed
11/19/97 S Point of Order NOT well taken
11/19/97 S Committee of conference report accepted, in concurrence -SJ 1209
11/19/97 H Emergency preamble adopted -HJ 1160
11/19/97 S Emergency preamble adopted -SJ 1213
11/19/97 H Enacted
11/19/97 H Motion to reconsider negatived -HJ 1160
11/19/97 S Enacted - 32 YEAS to 6 NAYS (see Senate Roll Call, No. 178)
11/19/97 S Motion to reconsider negatived
11/19/97 S Laid before the Acting Governor -SJ 1214
11/25/97 signed by Acting Governor Cellucci at 4:13pm EST

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