MMWEC is a result of the unwavering commitment of Massachusetts municipal utilities to provide their customers with the best possible service at the lowest possible cost.
Former Gov. Michael S. Dukakis, surrounded by MMWEC officials, signing MMWEC's enabling legislation, Chapter 775 of the Acts of 1975.
Between 1889 and 1926, the residents of 40 Massachusetts cities and towns voted to create their own electric utilities. For many years, these utilities purchased most of their electricity through retail contracts with investor-owned utilities (IOUs) because it was too expensive for individual municipal utilities to build power plants capable of meeting all their needs.
This long-established relationship began to change in the 1960s, when the Shrewsbury municipal utility initiated litigation that resulted in a federal court decision establishing municipal systems as utilities in their own right, entitled to purchase power directly from wholesale suppliers. Around the same time, New England’s electric utility industry was evolving, with the IOUs planning to create the New England Power Pool (NEPOOL), which would coordinate the production and delivery of electricity throughout the region. Eventually, after more litigation, the municipal utilities asserted their rights to participate in NEPOOL and develop their own power supply.
In 1969, with the workload of developing an independent public power supply expanding, the municipal utilities decided to create MMWEC, which started out as a private company managed by a public trust. In 1973, municipal utilities became full members of NEPOOL and acquired legislative authority to issue tax-exempt bonds, individually, to purchase shares in NEPOOL power plants. MMWEC coordinated the power supply planning and acquisition activities of the municipals. At the time, the law required each utility to obtain approval for and carry out individual bond issues, a process resulting in duplicated efforts and costly delays.
MMWEC Powers Expanded
This changed with the enactment of Chapter 775 of the Acts of 1975. Under this law, in May 1976, MMWEC became a non-profit, public corporation and political subdivision of the Commonwealth with the authority to issue tax-exempt revenue bonds to finance electric power projects on behalf of its members.
Using its statutory financing authority, MMWEC has issued more than $7 billion in bonds since 1976 to finance and refinance its 780-megawatt ownership interest in six major generating plants. In 2019, MMWEC paid off its remaining project bonds related to its ownership in Seabrook nuclear station. With that payment, MMWEC’s municipal utility project participants began benefiting from debt-free ownership of its nuclear generating assets, including Seabrook and Millstone nuclear stations. It is believed this represents the only debt-free ownership of nuclear generation by public power entities in the country.
Protecting Municipal Utility Rights
While the issues and dynamics of the electric industry are dramatically different today, MMWEC continues to bring efficiency and economy to the business of municipal utilities, protecting their rights and advancing their interests in various state, regional and national forums.