In a first-of-its-kind analysis, the Energy and Policy Institute has examined the charitable contributions of 10 leading investor-owned electric utilities in the U.S., finding that all of these major utilities use charitable giving to manipulate politics, policies and regulation in ways designed to increase shareholder profits, often at the expense of low-income communities whose communities are more likely to bear the brunt of climate impacts and suffer higher levels of air pollution.
Strings Attached: How utilities use charitable giving to influence politics and increase investor profits, finds that:
* From 2013 to 2017, EPI estimates that the 10 utilities that we assessed – Ameren, American Electric Power, Arizona Public Service, Dominion Energy, DTE Energy, Duke Energy, Entergy, FirstEnergy, NextEra Energy, and Southern Company – gave approximately $1 billion to charitable organizations
* That number, for just 10 companies, is 13 times greater than the $78 million that the entire utility sector – including political action committees and individual employees – contributed to federal elections in the 2014, 2016, and 2018 cycle
* Much of the utilities’ charitable activity is geared explicitly to influence politics
* Organizations who received contributions from the utility companies engaged in political activities on the companies’ behalf without disclosing that reality publicly
* Utilities use charities to extort support from low-income communities and communities of color
* These companies spend millions of dollars, earned from captive customers, to prosecute their political arguments, and have the resources to employ fleets of lobbyists and lawyers to represent them at public utility commissions and state legislatures.