A. Any number of natural persons not less than five may, by executing, filing and recording articles of incorporation as hereinafter set forth, form a cooperative, either with or without capital stock, not organized for pecuniary profit, for the principal purpose of making energy, energy services, and other utility services available at the lowest cost consistent with sound economy and prudent management of the business of such cooperative and such other purposes as its membership shall approve: (i) provided, however, that within its certificated service territory, no such cooperative shall, prior to July 1, 2000, undertake or initiate any new program (a) to buy or maintain an inventory of HVACR equipment or household appliances, (b) to install or service any such equipment or household appliances for customers, unless such service is not provided by the cooperative but by a third party individual, firm or corporation licensed to perform such service, (c) to sell HVACR equipment or household appliances to customers metered and billed on residential rates, (d) to sell HVACR equipment to customers other than those metered and billed on residential rates except where such sale is an incidental part of providing other energy services or providing traditional cooperative activities, (e) to sell or distribute propane or fuel oil; sell, install or service propane or fuel oil equipment; or maintain or buy an inventory of propane or fuel oil equipment for resale, or (f) to serve as a coordinator of nonelectric energy services or provide engineering consulting services except when such energy or engineering services are an incidental part of a marketing effort to provide other energy or engineering services or as a part of providing services that are traditional cooperative activities; (ii) provided further, that notwithstanding clause (i), such cooperative may engage within its certificated service territory in any of the activities enumerated in clause (i) that (a) have received State Corporation Commission approval prior to February 1, 1998, (b) such cooperative is ordered or required to undertake by any jurisdictional court or regulatory authority, (c) were lawfully undertaken prior to February 1, 1998, (d) are specifically permitted by statute, or (e) are undertaken by any other regulated public service company or its unregulated affiliate within such cooperative’s certificated service territory; and (iii) also provided that such cooperative or its affiliate may not undertake such activities as are prohibited by clause (i) within the certificated service territory of another public service company unless such activities are undertaken by such public service company or its unregulated affiliate within such cooperative’s certificated service territory. In addition, such cooperative may establish one or more subsidiaries to engage in any other business activities not prohibited by law; notwithstanding the foregoing, no such subsidiary may engage in any business activities that the cooperatives are prohibited from engaging in under this section. For purposes of determining whether a cooperative is formed not for pecuniary profit, the establishment of one or more affiliates thereof on a for-profit basis shall not disqualify such entity from being formed as a cooperative pursuant to this article.
B. Nothing in this article shall be construed to authorize a cooperative formed pursuant to this article, or any affiliate thereof, to engage, on a not-for-profit basis, within either the cooperative’s certificated service territory or in the certificated service territory of another public service company, in the sale of products, the provision of services, or other business activity, except for regulated electric utility services, unregulated sales of electric power to its members within its certificated service territory, and traditional cooperative activities. However, if such products or services are not currently provided by any person other than a cooperative formed under or subject to this chapter or its affiliate and the Commission determines that no such other person is likely, within a reasonable time, to effectively provide such products and services in such territory, an affiliate of a cooperative may provide such products or services on a not-for-profit basis. The Commission shall also permit an affiliate of a cooperative formed under or subject to this chapter to provide such products or services on a not-for-profit basis upon a finding that the affiliate will not receive the benefit of any federal income tax exemption that is not available to persons other than cooperatives and will not receive the benefit of any federally guaranteed or subsidized financing that is not available to persons other than cooperatives; and provided further that nothing in this subsection shall prohibit the continued operation of any business activities of any not-for-profit cooperative or affiliate formed, operating, and actively providing products or services to customers on or before July 1, 1999.
1999, c. 874; 2000, cc. 964, 989.