Utility spending on major Republican groups outpaces Democrats over 2:1, EPI finds
- The Energy and Policy Institute (EPI) published data Tuesday showing six political organizations received nearly $8.4 million from the utility industry during 2017 and 2018, 70% of which went to Republican organizations.
- EPI's data, first published earlier this summer, was updated to include 2018 Q3 filings from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), as part of a decade-long record of the political spending of more than 70 utility holding companies and subsidiaries. Since 2008, the industry has given three Republican and three Democratic organizations a total of $41.2 million, with the Republican Governors Association (RGA) receiving over $21 million.
- According to the political spending database OpenSecrets, the largest electric utility donor in 2017-2018 is Pinnacle West Capital, the owner of Arizona Public Service, with contributions over $2.3 million to candidates and political organizations. The company has spent nearly 10 times that amount to oppose a ballot measure in Arizona that would mandate a 50% renewable generation goal by 2030.
EPI's data shows utility contributions to Democratic organizations flatlined below $3 million in recent years while their Republican counterparts received more and more.
This was not surprising to Sheila Krumholz, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics and its online counterpart OpenSecrets.
"With regard to electric utilities, this is an industry that is allied with the Republican party, they generally give more to Republicans," Krumholz told Utility Dive.
"Even in years when the Democrats were in the majority, they gave slightly more to Democrats, but when that flipped and Republicans took office" electric utilities contributed a much greater amount to political candidates, she said.
EPI tracks the contributions made by the utility sector to the RGA, the Democratic Governors Association (DGA), the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA), Democratic Attorneys General Association (DAGA), Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC) and Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (DLCC).
All six qualify as Section 527 political organizations according to the IRS, allowing them to accept unlimited donations.
The EPI tracker showed that NextEra Energy, including NextEra Capital Holdings, spent the most money among the 2017-2018 contributors to the Republican organizations it's tracking, accounting for $1,939,546 of $5,998,731. The company gave $290,450 to the three Democratic organizations by comparison.
The top contributor to the Democratic organizations being tracked by EPI was PSEG Services, with $297,500. PSEG, whose service region includes several Democratic states, was one of six utilities to give more to the three Democratic organizations than to their Republican counterparts in the past two years.
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