The Edison Electric Institute (EEI) is the association that represents all U.S. investor-owned electric companies. Our members provide electricity for 220 million Americans, and operate in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. As a whole, the electric power industry supports more than 7 million jobs in communities across the United States. In addition to our U.S. members, EEI has more than 60 international electric companies as International Members, and hundreds of industry suppliers and related organizations as Associate Members.
Organized in 1933, EEI provides public policy leadership, strategic business intelligence, and essential conferences and forums.
EEI will be the best trade association.
We will be the best because we are committed to knowing our members and their needs. We will provide leadership and deliver services that consistently meet or exceed their expectations.
We will be the best because we will attract and retain employees who have the ambition to serve and will empower them to work effectively as individuals and in teams.
Above all, we will be the best trade association because, in the tradition of Thomas Edison, we will make a significant and positive contribution to the long-term success of the electric power industry in its vital mission to provide electricity to foster economic progress and improve the quality of life.
Does any of that sound like something that benefits you, little ratepayer? No? Then why are you paying for it in your electric bill?
The Energy and Policy Institute has published a new report detailing how utilities' EEI "dues" end up in electric bills, although ratepayers don't benefit from EEI's activities.
Paying for Utility Politics
How utility ratepayers are forced to fund the Edison Electric Institute and other political organizations
A utility's political and lobbying expenses aren't a ratepayer burden. A utility spends its own profits on these things because it cannot be assumed that laws, regulations, and propaganda that benefits the utility also benefits the ratepayer. Except that utilities have a nasty habit of having little "accidents" where expenses that are clearly political or lobbying find their way into rates. Sometimes when caught with their hand in the cookie jar, the utility says "oops" and removes the expense from rates. Other times, they stand there arrogantly stuffing cookies into their gaping maw as fast as they can while stamping their feet and crying that the political expenses really aren't political at all, or that they are entitled to recover them by twisting regulation to make them into something unpolitical. Honestly, these schmucks are crooked dirty jockeys who drive a crooked horse.
When third-party organizations or public service commission staffs have attempted to protect ratepayers from funding political organizations in recent years, their attempts have met with fierce resistance from the utility companies.
This report explores how regulated utility companies are including their Edison Electric Institute (EEI) annual payments, along with payments to other trade associations, in their operating expenses. The widespread practice forces ratepayers to pay for political and public relations activities with which they may not agree, and from which they do not benefit. It also has the effect of ratepayers subsidizing the political activities of EEI and other trade associations. Utility commissions have a responsibility to protect ratepayers from paying for industry groups and their political work along with public relations activities. But utilities have become adroit at using EEI, and other organizations, to effectively and quietly influence policy while sheltering their shareholders from the bulk of the associated costs. Almost no other political organizations have the luxury of subsidization enjoyed by EEI and other representatives of the regulated utility industry.
The salary of EEI President Thomas Kuhn, who made $4.1 million in 2015.
EEI's time to make sure that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) “provides compensatory returns on equity that recognize the risks associated with transmission construction."
EEI's education of regulators and consumers advocates on key industry issues, including capital expenditures that highlight the record-high investments in the grid.
Utility dues for The American Gas Association, Nuclear Energy Institute, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Utility contributions to the Democratic Governors Association; and Republican Governors Association.
EEI's legislative advocacy; regulatory advocacy; advertising; marketing; public relations; legislative policy research; regulatory policy research.
EEI's "litigation efforts".
EEI-sponsored dialogues and forums that brought together FERC commissioners, state policymakers, consumers, Wall Street analysts, and industry leaders to discuss key issues facing the industry.
A "Defend My Dividend" campaign, that secured permanent parity between the tax rates for dividends and capital gains.
A "We Stand For Energy" campaign, to educate and unite more than 250,000 electricity consumers and stakeholders across the country and to advocate for smart energy solutions that ensure electricity remains safe, reliable, affordable, and increasingly clean.
Hunton & Williams LLP and Venable LLP. Hunton & Williams is the counsel for the Utility Air Regulatory Group (UARG), Utility Water Act Group (UWAG), and Waters Advocacy Coalition (WAC). Venable represents the Utilities Solid Waste and Activities Group (USWAG). Since 2008, Hunton & Williams has received $64.7 million from EEI and Venable has received $21.5 million. These ad-hoc organizations lobby the EPA and other federal interests to roll back clean air and water regulations.
Americans for Prosperity
Congressional Black Caucus/Foundation
Thomas Alva Edison Foundation
American Legislative Exchange Council
EEI's “Lexicon Project,” an opportunity for utilities to assume an “offensive posture” on energy policy and to rebrand the electric utility industry and overcome the negative perceptions consumers have about the lack of progress utilities have made on renewable energy and environmental issues.
American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity.
There's much, much more in the report, so read it for yourself.
The report recommends
The evidence in this report reveals that EEI is primarily and inherently a political organization, and that much of its work targets policymakers throughout all levels of government to build influence, specifically for their member companies but also for the industry at large. While many states have their established practices of how to code trade association dues, they should revisit outdated guidelines due to the nature of EEI’s modern activities to ensure that they are adequately protecting ratepayers. Throughout the past three decades, some regulators and consumer advocates have acted to protect ratepayers, but scrutiny has waned dramatically. Precedent exists for public officials to act in every state to investigate whether or not EEI’s inherently political work ought to be funded by ratepayers.
Thomas Edison would probably be ashamed of these crooks.