Utilities in three states are now prohibited from spending their customers’ money on lobbying activities in a win for consumer advocates who say the measures offer important transparency safeguards, the Washington Post reports. The laws passed recently in Colorado, Connecticut, and Maine, all with bipartisan support, prohibit utilities from using money from customers’ bills to pay political activities including lobbying and trade association dues.
The Edison Electric Institute, a trade association for investor-owned utilities, bought Facebook ads against the legislation in Connecticut and Colorado and the American Gas Association, which has pushed preemptive bans on state and local electrification measures across the country, complained the laws “silence” its voice. “What we’ve seen in the last few months is a real turning point, where public officials have become aware and alarmed — appropriately — that utilities are forcing their customers to pay for their political operations,” David Pomerantz, head of the Energy and Policy Institute, told the Post. (Washington Post $)