In the wake of the Miami Herald’s revelation of audio tape proving that Florida’s utilities have pursued a campaign to trick people into thinking that their Amendment 1 is “pro-solar,” a new wave of media interest has focused on a key question: who is funding Amendment 1?

The answer, as Energy and Policy Institute and many others have repeated numerous times, is Florida’s big utilities: $17 million of the $22 million funding the group behind Amendment 1, “Consumers for Smart Solar” (CSS), have come directly from Florida Power & Light, Duke Energy, Gulf Power, and Tampa Electric. Almost all of the other $5 million has come from front groups funded by utilities and oil and gas interests.

Funding to Consumers for Smart Solar for Amendment 1 as of Oct. 28, 2016

In the new wave of media coverage, Mike Vasilinda, a reporter from local TV network WJHG, asked CSS spokesperson Matt Carter how many consumers had actually contributed to CSS. Carter said “I don’t have that information Mike, but it’s readily available.”

Carter’s right! That information is readily available at the Florida Department of Elections. Vasilinda looked, and astutely noted that only 12 of the contributors to CSS have been actual flesh-and-blood consumers.

As we’ve tracked CSS’ funding for months, that made us wonder: who are those 12 consumers? Well, it turns out that at least 11 of them either are employees of CSS, work for or live with consultants of CSS, or work for two of the fossil fuel and utility front groups that have donated millions to CSS. They are:

All those donations happened within a week of CSS first opening its doors, and likely aimed to convince anyone checking the financial disclosure data that CSS had any consumer support.

Of the over $22 million CSS has collected, the grand total of contributions donated by actual real-life, independent “consumers” clocks in at…  $10. Donated by one, lonely supporter.

CSS has nothing to do with consumers. They’re certainly not for solar. Maybe it’s time for CSS to change its name? They could try “Utilities and Front Groups For Monopoly Profits.”

Posted by David Pomerantz

David Pomerantz is the Executive Director of the Energy and Policy Institute.

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