Utility watchdog: Rate money buys political favors
Should ratepayers have a say in what power companies do with their money?
A utility watchdog group has raised that question.
The Energy and Policy Institute claims some of the biggest utility companies use charitable donations for political purposes.
The institute checked 990 forms filed by 10 utilities with the IRS and reports filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission between 2013 and 2017.
Dominion Energy and Duke Energy were included.
The report suggests;
• Utilities use charitable giving to manipulate politics, policies and regulations to increase their profits.
That political influence comes at the expense of low-income communities and their own ratepayers.
Between 2013 and 2017, the report estimates Dominion Energy gave $105,972,472 to charity.
Dominion Energy stated it is “ proud of our long history of generous giving to support a wide range of charitable programs in the communities we serve.”
Duke Energy giving was estimated at $306,482,338.
Duke Energy stated, “It’s a new low for special interest groups to target philanthropic giving to people and organizations dedicated to helping others.”
The 10 companies donated more than $1 billion in 5 years – 13 times more than the $78 million all utilities donated in federal elections in 2014, 2016, and 2018, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Researchers said charities receiving donations took political action for the utilities.
Giving was also found to help their public relations.
The report gave no examples of political influence through charitable giving in South Carolina.