Greenpeace asks Electric Utilities to Dump ALEC and Embrace Clean Energy

by Connor Gibson

February 20, 2014

Today, Greenpeace sent letters to executives at nine utility companies that have been documented as American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) members or sponsors. We are asking all nine utilities to completely sever ties to ALEC–the companies are listed below with links to each letter.

Our letters cite ALEC’s longtime role in confusing the American public over the reality of global climate change, attacking state incentives for clean energy jobs and calling residential solar electricity generators “freeriders” for not paying extra fees when adding their excess power to the grid. We take note of other major issues, such as ALEC-disseminated Stand Your Ground laws and racially-prejudiced “Voter ID” laws that block legitimate voters from the polls, which ALEC has made no attempt to repeal.

ALEC’s role in pushing these controversial laws on behalf of its corporate members has resulted in an exodus of over 60 companies and 400 legislators, according to ALEC. While we hope that these nine utilities understand how support for ALEC’s secretive manipulation of the democratic process sends a bad signal to the American people, their continued support for ALEC suggests otherwise.

Utilities Claim Commitment to Climate Policies and Clean Energy as ALEC Blocks Progress

Some of the largest U.S. utility companies with ALEC membership have repeatedly stated commitments to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and supporting certain climate change policies. And while these same companies haven’t always put their best foot forward in terms of supporting things like distributed solar energy generation, they all make it clear they support renewable energy development.

Greenpeace’s letters show the disconnect between what these utilities are saying and what they are paying for by supporting ALEC.

Through ALEC, these companies put themselves in questionable company. ALEC itself a member of the Koch-funded web of front groups known as the State Policy Network. Most SPN member organizations (64 in all 50 states) and associate members (over 200, mostly around Washington, DC) have participated in the narrative of climate science denial. ALEC itself was selected in a secret meeting held in 1998 at the American Petroleum Institute as a key opponent to national and international climate change mitigation programs.

If that’s not proof of a fossil fuel conspiracy to deny climate change science, then I’m not sure what is. But the utility companies we wrote to today were not involved in the American Petroleum Institute meeting (that we know of), and they can still make a good gesture toward our global climate by leaving ALEC’s dirty legacy behind.

It is our hope that some of these companies have already left ALEC, but since ALEC doesn’t offer basic transparency on its corporate membership nor its public legislator membership, we’ll keep you updated on how leadership at these companies respond to our inquiry.

Until then, #StandUpToALEC by asking your state legislators to put you, the constituent, before ALEC and the narrow corporate interests it exists to serve. See this fact sheet if you’re not so familiar with ALEC’s anti-environmental work on behalf of its polluting company members.

The letters can each be viewed as plain text on PolluterWatch or in PDF form:


Alliant Energy (PDF) – Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa

Ameren Corp (PDF) – Missouri & Illinois

Arizona Public Service (APS) and Pinnacle West Capital (PDF)- Arizona

Dominion Resources (PDF)- Virginia

MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company (PDF)- a subsidiary of Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway

PacifiCorp (PDF) – MEHC subsidiary operating in Washington, Oregon, California, Utah, Idaho and Wyoming

MidAmerican Energy (PDF) – MEHC subsidiary operating in Illinois, South Dakota and Nebraska

NV Energy (PDF) – MEHC subsidiary operating in Nevada

NiSource (PDF) – Indiana, with additional gas distribution in Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland & Massachusetts

Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) (PDF)- California

Map- ALECEnvrio

Connor Gibson

By Connor Gibson

Connor Gibson does research for Greenpeace's Investigations team. He focuses on polluting industries, their front groups and PR operatives, particularly focusing on the Koch Brothers.

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