In a first-of-its-kind analysis, the Energy and Policy Institute (EPI) has examined the philanthropic contributions of 10 leading investor-owned electric utilities in the U.S. EPI found that “all of these major utilities use their 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.”

Over 60% of the more than $1 billion in charitable giving by the 10 studied utility companies between 2013 and 2017 was contributed by the three partner companies behind the Atlantic Coast Pipeline: Duke Energy, $306.5 million; Dominion Energy, $105.9 million; and Southern Company, $209.2 million.

The EPI study, Strings Attached, documents dozens of cases where organizations who received contributions from the utility companies engaged in political activities on the companies’ behalf without disclosing that reality publicly.  One practice revealed by the EPI analysis is that the companies ”frequently use charitable giving to gain support from organizations that represent low-income communities and communities of color.”  The study recommends that utility regulators assume “a responsibility to ensure that all organizations attempting to influence utility ratemaking or policy disclose whether they have a financial relationship to the utility.”

Charitable Gifts by Utilities Used to Win Public Support, New Study Says
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