INSTITUTE INDEX: Challenging Duke Energy's influence spending

Graphic showing Duke Energy's annual influence spending via NC WARN.

Date on which two environmental advocacy groups, NC WARN and Friends of the Earth, filed a petition for rulemaking with the North Carolina Utilities Commission calling for it to block monopoly electric utility Duke Energy from spending its captive customers' money to buy political influence: 11/14/2018

Amount the groups say the investor-owned company, headquartered in Charlotte, spends annually in the Carolinas to shape public opinion and policy through "lobbying funds, political contributions, civic and academic contributions, and advertising expenses": more than $80 million

Year in which a study found that unfettered political spending by regulated utilities like Duke Energy can impede the transition to clean energy: 2017

Constitutional amendment that the petition says Duke Energy violates by using captive customers' bill payments to promote political speech with which those customers don't necessarily agree: 1st

Year in which the U.S. Supreme Court cited that amendment in its ruling in a California case finding that non-union members covered by a union contract must be allowed to opt in to special fees used for political purposes, a decision the environmentalists point to in their petition: 2012

In 2017 alone, amount Duke Energy reported spending on political contributions at the federal level: over $700,000

On lobbying in North Carolina: over $1 million

On federal lobbying: over $6.6 million

In 2016, estimated amount Duke Energy spent on community relations: $3 million

On image advertising: over $7.8 million

On public relations: $10 million

Number of people who work in Duke Energy's public relations division: 105

While Duke Energy's promotions tout it as "Building a Smarter Energy Future," percent of the company's electricity set to come from renewable sources by 2033: 7 or 8

Of the money Duke Energy spends on influence, portion that ultimately comes from captive customers' bills, according to the petition, which dismisses the company's claims that the money comes from shareholder funds as "accounting fiction": virtually all

Year in which NC WARN discovered during a rate-increase proceeding that Duke Energy wrongly coded multiple political contributions as a cost of service, thereby making them recoverable from customers: 2012

Month in which NC WARN offered evidence about the $80 million in influence spending during a rate hearing, leading the company to threaten the nonprofit with a libel suit over the accounting distinction: 3/2018

(Click on figure to go to source.)