Commentary: Nonprofit political manipulation by APS

Adora Nweze, president of the Florida conference of the N.A.A.C.P., repeated energy industry talking points in articles and testimony, but later concluded that such advocacy was mistaken.
Credit:Rose Marie Cromwell for The New York Times

Chris Herstam | Arizona Mirror

(Editor’s note: Opinion pieces are published for discussion purposes only.)

Earlier this month, The New York Times reported that utilities across the country have turned to local chapters of the NAACP to support efforts to defeat renewable energy projects and maintain the fossil-fuel status quo.

The storied civil rights organization is now urging its local chapters to stop supporting utility policies and rate increases that ultimately harm black communities less equipped to cope with climate change.

Why do many local NAACP chapters jump in bed with utilities? Because the utilities are huge donors to their nonprofit programs. 

This utility strategy is not directed at just the NAACP, as evidenced in a recent report by the Energy and Policy Institute. According to the report, from 2013 to 2017, ten of the largest utilities in the nation – including APS – gave about $1 billion in donations to nonprofit entities in an attempt to influence utility public policy.

To receive the large utility contributions (generated primarily from ratepayers), the NAACP local chapters often “repeated industry talking points in newspaper opinion articles, written comments to state regulators and testimony in public hearings.“

Sadly, APS has brought these shady political activities to Arizona


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