For Immediate Release: Monday, October 31, 2016
Contact: David Pomerantz, Energy and Policy Institute, (914) 584-9054, [email protected];
Florida Power & Light now the biggest bankroller of a ballot campaign in Florida history; Duke Energy second
October 31, 2016 — Florida’s two largest electric utilities and their allies have contributed another $3.5 million into the political action committee attempting to pass Amendment 1, a deceptive ballot initiative which would set back the growth of solar power in Florida, according to new data released today by the Florida Division of Elections.
Florida Power & Light (FPL) led the charge for Florida’s utilities with a contribution of $2 million on October 24. FPL has contributed a total of $8,055,000 to Consumers for Smart Solar, the utility-funded group behind Amendment 1, and now holds the unenviable record for having spent the most money on a single ballot effort in the history of Florida.
Duke Energy contributed $999,998 on October 25. It has now spent $6,736,998 million and moved into second place for spending on a single ballot effort in Florida history, having surpassed Sheldon Adelson’s 2014 contributions totaling $5.5 million to the Drug Free Florida committee, an effort to stop the legalization of medical marijuana.
The Tampa Electric Company (TECO) added $160,000 on October 19. Two front groups, the Koch-backed 60 Plus Association, and “Let’s Preserve the American Dream,” a committee affiliated with Associated Industries of Florida, each added $250,000 respectively on October 28.
Duke and FPL’s new round of contributions came a week after the Miami Herald broke the story that Sal Nuzzo, the vice president of policy for a utility-funded think tank that has supported Amendment 1, conceded in a leaked audio recording that utilities created Amendment 1 as an act of “political jiu-jitsu” to “negate” the efforts of solar advocates.
“This latest cash dump by FPL and Duke is a desperate effort to buy an election with a flood of last-ditch deceptive advertisements,” said David Pomerantz, executive director of the Energy and Policy Institute. “But the public is rapidly learning that Amendment 1 is an anti-solar wolf in sheep’s clothing. No amount of utility money can hide the truth.”
All four of the utilities backing Amendment 1 have made corporate commitments to communicate honestly with the public. NextEra Energy, the parent company of FPL, maintains in its Code of Business Conduct & Ethics that “we always communicate truthfully with the public.” Duke Energy also has a standing commitment to “communicate honestly and truthfully with the public.”
Consumers for Smart Solar is not yet the most well-funded ballot initiative effort in Florida’s history, but it is on track to set the record. With more than a week of data left to report, CSS has raised a total of $26,118,915. Floridians for Patient Protection raised $28,977,457 in 2004, but that campaign had to spend money to get two different ballot measures approved.
Of the $26 million CSS has collected, over $20 million has come directly from Florida’s big four utilities: FPL, Duke, TECO and Gulf Power, a Southern Company subsidiary. Research by the Energy and Policy Institute revealed that only 12 individual consumers have contributed to CSS, and 11 of them are affiliated with the campaign. CSS has raised a total of $10 from unaffiliated consumers.
The Energy and Policy Institute has documented all current Consumers for Smart Solar contributions here.
Florida Power & Light’s parent company, NextEra Energy, reported today a profit of $753 million for the 3rd quarter of 2016 alone.