- National independent power producer NextEra Energy is the biggest Florida corporate donor to Right to Rise, the political action committee (PAC) supporting the Jeb Bush campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, the Associated Press reports.
- Newly released records show NextEra, parent company of regulated utility Florida Power & Light (FP&L), donated more than $1 million to the Bush Super PAC in 2015, not including personal contributions from executives. The Bush campaign denied the donations would create a conflict of interest when, under a hypothetical Bush Presidency, the utility undergoes normal Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) review or faces other federal regulatory issues.
- In 2009, two years after Mr. Bush left the Florida Governorship, he wrote an opinion piece for the Tallahassee Democrat calling on state regulators to approve a proposed FP&L rate increase higher than the usual rate. He also wrote a 2008 opinion piece in defense of a proposed FP&L expansion of its nuclear facilities.
With its donation of a $1 million, NextEra cements itself in the Right to Rise seven-figure club alongside Texas oil men and New York financiers. It's rather unusual for publicly-traded companies, Mother Jones points out, to contribute directly to Super PACs, but they have the right to do so under the 2010 Citizens United Supreme Court decision.
The decision allows corporations and unions to make political contributions through Super PACs like Right to Rise as long as they do not coordinate with the candidates they are set up to benefit.
NextEra is currently engaged in federal regulatory proceedings pertaining to power plant emissions and recently warned shareholders about the costs of environmental law compliance.
NextEra Chair/CEO James Robo has personally contributed over $30,000 to federal candidates since 2008, including a recent $2,700 contribution to the Bush campaign, a $6,600 contribution to Arizona Sen. John McCain's 2008 Presidential campaign, and a $10,000 contribution to President Barack Obama's 2012 re-election campaign.
NextEra is currently embroiled in a controversial merger with Hawaiian Electric Industries, the parent of Hawaii’s dominant electric providers. Opponents of the merger, including Hawaii’s Governor, question the deal because rooftop solar and other distributed generation is highly popular in Hawaii, while NextEra’s FP&L subsidiary has demonstrated little support for them.