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Country’s Largest Grid Operator May Be Using Americans’ Monthly Bills to Fund Campaign Donations

Feb. 20, 2018

Country’s Largest Grid Operator May Be Using Americans’ Monthly Bills to Fund Campaign Donations

Public Citizen Files Complaint With FERC Against PJM, Which Operates in 13 States, to Better Disclose Its Political Expenditures

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The country’s largest grid operator, PJM Interconnection LLC, has spent hundreds of thousands on campaign contributions and millions on lobbying that it has failed to disclose to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which oversees the company, Public Citizen said in a complaint filed today.

Public Citizen has identified at least $456,500 in campaign donations made by PJM to political action committees (PACs) for the purpose of funding partisan electoral politics that have not been disclosed to FERC as required. In addition, it recorded millions in PJM lobbying expenditures using at least five different firms that also have not been disclosed.

PJM’s operations are funded through a federal electricity rate, called the Open Access Transmission Tariff, which tens of millions of Americans pay through their monthly utility bills in the 13 states where PJM operates. The complaint asks FERC to take action against PJM for potential violations of the Federal Power Act’s requirement that all utility rates by “just and reasonable,” including the rate that FERC allows PJM to charge its customers.

FERC must require PJM to disclose all its political spending, including campaign donations and lobbying expenses, and document which of those are funded through the rates.

“Thousands of Public Citizen’s members and other working families have a right to know exactly how PJM Interconnection spends their money,” said Tyson Slocum, director of Public Citizen’s Energy Program. “FERC must require PJM to fully disclose to the public exactly how much of our utility bills are going to pay lobbing firms and to fund partisan campaign contributions.”

The 13 states are Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia.