Across the country, utilities are using the same playbook of dirty tricks.
Conservative Energy Network will break it down for you play-by-play.

Home Field Advantage

Buy Community Support With Naming Rights

“It doesn’t make much sense for any public utility to spend large sums of money on sponsorships considering how little, if any, competition exists in these industries. The First Energy deal with the Browns is especially troublesome considering the electric company does not service the stadium, taxpayers already paid for the stadium, and the naming fee will go to the team’s owner, even though he doesn’t own the stadium.”

Exclusive Contracts

Creating a monopoly

A utility that is given exclusive right to provide goods and services to a specific area. Customers cannot opt-out or choose to receive service by other means.

The Blitz

Attack Any Policymaker In Your Way

“By operating this type of game to target politicians to get them out of office, hide the money, hide the campaign donations, it harms democracy,” said Matt Kasper, research director at the Energy and Policy Institute, a national watchdog organization that monitors utilities.”

Pass Interference

Protect the monopoly

Protectionism: The idea that those utilities who currently enjoy a granted monopoly will work to protect that monopoly by various means including: regulatory capture, promotion of laws and regulations that enact barriers to entry for future competitors, or outright illegal activity.

The Handoff

Get Your Cronies to Carry the Ball

While affiliate transactions certainly aren’t uncommon, Entergy is the king of affiliate transactions between electric affiliates. … Affiliate transactions have recently come under scrutiny.

Owning the Referees

By using Regulatory Capture

Refers to the regulated industry having a substantial amount of influence on the decisions that regulators make. This can be through campaign contributions, the real or perceived assurance of industry employment by regulators following their time in government office (‘revolving door’), or simply taking advantage of regulators with limited experience and expertise.

No Salary Cap for Electricity CEOs

Investor-owned utilities paid their CEOs over $1 billion between 2017 and 2019.

These companies offered their CEOs nearly $450 million in compensation in 2019, a raise of nearly 26% over the previous year.
For comparison, wages in the U.S. as a whole increased only 2.6% in 2019.

The average compensation for the CEOs was approximately $11 million in 2019.

This is troubling because these salaries are not based on free-market conditions. They are paid for by customers with no say in the matter and approved by the same regulators that utilities spend millions of dollars to lobby, influence, and even bribe.

Utility Hall of Shame

2014

Washington

In Washington, a legislative effort to undermine solar net metering is already underway

https://www.renewableenergyworld.com/2014/02/27/utility-interests-push-for-protectionism-in-state-of-washington/#gref 

2015

Massachusetts

Utilities want it all: Restrictions on solar harm low-income communities, renters, affordable housing complexes, businesses, and public school districts.

https://commonwealthmagazine.org/environment/its-time-to-sunburn-national-grid/

2016

Utah

Rocky Mountain power helps legislature pass bill to restructure electrical rates

https://archive.sltrib.com/article.php?id=3647139&itype=CMSID

2018

New Mexico

PNM spends $440,000 on 2018 elections to support regulators who will be more friendly to utility interests.

https://www.abqjournal.com/1179850/industryfunded-pacs-back-moderate-dems-in-primary.html

2019

South Carolina

A result of SCANA’s lies is that South Carolina ratepayers will pay $2.3 billion to cover the sunk cost of the scrapped project.

https://www.sec.gov/litigation/complaints/2020/scana-complaint-022720.pdf 

2020

Montana

Ratepayers saddled with costs associate with maintenance and environmental cleanup in a new NW energy deal.

https://themontanapost.com/blog/2020/02/19/end-montana-psc-secrecy-and-corruption/

2020

Ohio

FirstEnergy at center of the largest corruption scandal in Ohio allegedly involving over $60 Million 

https://www.energyandpolicy.org/utility-corruption/

2020

Illinois

ComEd has earned excessive profits from a regulatory structure set in place by a 2011 state law whose passage has been linked to a bribery scandal that’s embroiled key state lawmakers and ComEd’s former CEO…

https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/comeds-long-running-state-regulatory-and-grid-investment-treatment-comes-under-fire

2021

South Carolina

Former SCANA CEO pleads guilty to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud….

https://www.justice.gov/usao-sc/pr/former-scana-ceo-pleads-guilty-conspiracy-commit-mail-and-wire-fraud

Hall of Shame

Some bad players can’t help themselves

First Energy

Dominion

Exelon

Who else deserves to be in the Utility Hall of Shame?

    More In-Depth Analysis

    Industry 101 | What is Regulation in the Utility Industry?
    Energy & Policy Institute: $144 Million for Ohio Bribery Scandal
    Power Play: Four Types of Scandals Utility Companies Get Into

    Expose your utility's playbook. We want to hear your stories!

    Help us chronicle electric utility misbehavior across the country.