The behemoth created by the proposed merger of Duke Energy and Progress Energy would not only yield the nation’s largest electric utility. The new creature would become the most politically influential corporation in NC, according to a new analysis by Democracy North Carolina. Duke and Progress Energy have long sponsored PACs that rank among the top 10 in the state; together, they would surpass Bank of America to form the largest corporate PAC in North Carolina. Charts compiled by Democracy NC show that their utilities’ combined spending to lobby and donate to NC and federal policymakers hit $19 million in the 2009-2010 cycle and a total of $52 million over the past eight years. In the 2010 election, 115 of the 170 state legislative winners got a donation from one or both of the utilities; one-fourth of the legislators got at least $3,500 and the top legislative leaders from both parties received at least $13,000 each. Will all this money and the companies’ other ways of accumulating goodwill give them an even bigger advantage over their critics? Says the report, “Policymakers often act like the utilities are the experts on energy issues but the public has a right to know that alternative perspectives and better strategies are not being overlooked because of the utilities’ money and lobbying muscle.”
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