Utilities across the country use money collected from customers’ monthly bills to fund political campaigns and lobbying efforts, often with the goal of blocking climate progress. But in Colorado, that’s about to change. This week, the state passed the country’s most comprehensive legislation to prevent utilities from using customer funds to support political activities.
Colorado’s new Utility Regulation Act was passed on Monday by the state Senate after clearing the state House two days prior, and is expected to be signed by Governor Jared Polis soon. It prohibits investor-owned utilities from charging their customers — known as ratepayers — for any membership dues in trade associations, lobbying expenses, or any other activities influencing legislation, ballot measures, and other regulatory actions. It also bars utilities from spending ratepayer money on political advertising or any messaging intended to boost the utility’s brand.
“This is the first comprehensive effort by a state to protect utility customers from being forced to fund gas and electric utilities’ political machines,” said David Pomerantz, executive director of the Energy and Policy Institute, a utility watchdog group