Dominion vastly increased its political spending on lobbying and “communications” recently. A July 10, 2018, AP report says, “Recently filed disclosure forms show the state’s biggest electric utility and most politically powerful company spent more than $1 million on lobbyists, entertainment, meals and communications from May 2017 to the end of April 2018. That’s about 10 times what the company said it spent in last year’s filing. The spending came during a period when the company successfully pushed through legislation that could lead to substantial increases to electric bills.
“Dominion spokesman David Botkins said the company’s stepped up ‘education outreach’ was needed ‘to break through the fake news and propaganda perpetuated by anti-energy groups.’ Most of the increase in reported spending was due to a boost in communications spending, which the company said totaled nearly $700,000. Dominion’s media blitz while lawmakers were debating the bill included a TV ad that ran during the Super Bowl. Dominion had 22 registered lobbyists this last session, a mix of full-time employees and well-connected hired guns. Dominion hired lobbyists from McGuireWoods, Reed Smith and Williams Mullen, three of the top lobbying firms in Virginia. The regulated monopoly also hired David Hallock, a close political advisor to Gov. Ralph Northam, as an outside lobbyist. The $1 million figure likely does not include the full scope of the company’s efforts, as Virginia law requires only that a narrow definition of lobbying expenses be made public.”
Dominion must be running scared if it needs to spend that much money to counter the increasing success of low- and no-budget groups fighting to protect land, forests, water, and private property – and consumers’ electric bills – from the actions of a company focused only on profit, a company accustomed for decades to doing whatever it wants.
An interesting side note: the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported on June 22, 2018, that “The highest-paid local CEO in 2017 was Dominion Energy’s Thomas F. Farrell. As chairman, president and CEO of the state’s largest utility company, Farrell earned $14.21 million, up 18 percent from $12.09 million in 2016.”