A national environmental group has filed a petition with the North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC), asking that investor-owned utilities be barred from funding groups which lobby legislative bodies or engage in elections. The petition asserts it violates ratepaying customers’ rights when the utilities pay membership fees to trade associations which lobby or make political contributions.
The petition cites the Edison Electric Institute (EEI) as one such association. In 2018, EEI spent more than $8 million to lobby at the national and state levels. Its issues included opposition to net metering and other policies which promote expansion of homeowner-produced solar energy. “Duke [Energy] is funneling ratepayers’ money to trade groups as a backchannel way to attack environmental protections and buy political influence,” said Howard Crystal, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, which filed the petition. “Edison Electric Institute and similar trade associations spend millions of dollars a year fighting air and water safeguards while propping up dirty fossil fuels. North Carolinians shouldn’t be expected to bank-roll lobbying and propaganda that will fuel even more climate chaos and pollution.”