Two environmental groups are asking state regulators to limit lobbying and other expenses by electric utilities, which the groups call "influence money."
NC WARN and Friends of the Earth have asked the North Carolina Utilities Commission to adopt new rules to prohibit spending ratepayers' money on lobbying, political contributions, and civic and charitable donations.
The filing also alleges that Duke Energy, in particular, improperly accounts for that spending to show it comes from shareholders or employees, not customers.
In a press release, Michelle Chan, vice president of programs at Friends of the Earth, said:
"Influence spending by energy corporations is a national epidemic that is polluting our democracy and driving the climate crisis. Duke Energy and other utilities are only concerned with growing their corporate profits by expanding the use of fracked gas and preventing cheaper, clean energy alternatives.”
Duke responded with a statement calling the groups' claims false:
"The claims by this organization about our company are patently false and misleading. Duke Energy is proud to make charitable contributions in the communities where we live, work and serve, as well as to participate in public discourse on important policy matters that affect our customers and our company. The dollars used to fund these efforts are funded by shareholders in accordance with the law."
Duke's critics have sought other curbs on the company's lobbying and contributions. In recent years, shareholders have voted down annual-meeting resolutions calling for reports disclosing lobbying expenses.