Home

call us OR we'll call you

(877) 969-7327

We'll Call You

Switch Now!

Additional Information & Sources

Below you will find more interesting information on America's twelve worst utilities. Additionally, we have listed the resources from which we have gathered all of our facts.

Additional Information

Duke Energy

Affiliated Utilities

Carbon Intensity

Additional Information

Merged with Progress Energy in 2012

1278.8 (lbs/MWh)

Several studies have found groundwater contamination and other health hazards due to the improper storage of coal waste at Duke plants in North Carolina. In 2000, Environmental Defense won a Supreme Court case against Duke for violating the Clean Air Act. 

From 2008-2010, the company made over $5.4 billion in profit, yet paid a negative tax rate of 3.9% on average, amounting to total federal tax rebates of $216 million. The CEO, James E. Rogers, is the highest paid in the utility sector, making $18.54 million in total compensation in 2012. Duke Energy is also the state corporate co-chair of Indiana and South Carolina for ALEC.

Duke has also been involved in an ongoing ethics scandal for offering an Indiana Regulator a position at the company while he was deliberating whether to allow Duke to pass electrical repair costs on to its Indiana customers. In 2012, Duke spent over $7 million on lobbying. In 2012, Greenpeace released a report that Duke could save its customers $108 billion, or 57% of their bills, in the next 20 years if it invested in energy efficiency and renewable energy. By contrast, if Duke continues on its current plan to build more fossil fuel plants, rates will increase nearly twentyfold in the same time period.

American Electric Power

Affiliated Utilities

Carbon Intensity

Additional Information

Owns AEP Ohio, AEP Texas, Appalachian Power, Indiana Michigan Power, Kentucky Power, PSO, and SWEPCO

1779.0 (lbs/MWh)

In 2002, AEP spent $20 million to buy out an entire town in Ohio that was plagued by sulfurous gas clouds and acid rain emanating from its nearby coal-fired plant. Most residents evacuated the town, and the company planned to use the land to expand coal storage. In 2007, AEP settled a lawsuit with the Department of Justice over violations of the Clear Air Act, paying a record $15 million penalty and $60 million to mitigate the adverse effects of its pollution.

In 2009, the EPA released a list of 44 “high hazard” coal waste dumps across the U.S. American Electric Power owned 11 of these sites. From 2008-2010, American Electric Power made over $5.8 billion in profits, yet paid a negative tax rate of 9.2% on average, amounting to total federal tax rebates of $545 million.

During the same period, executive compensation increased 30% while the company laid off a total of 2,600 workers. In 2012, AEP spent over $1million in campaign contributions, and the company was a “Chairman” level sponsor of ALEC in 2011.

Southern Company

Affiliated Utilities

Carbon Intensity

Additional Information

Owns Alabama Power, Georgia Power, Gulf Power, and Mississippi Power

1,463.0 (lbs/MWh)

According to the EPA, Southern Company runs the top three facilities that contribute to greenhouse gas emissions in the country: Sherer (Georgia), Bowen (Georgia), and Miller (Alabama).

In 2011, several environmental groups released a report finding that one of the company’s coal ash dump sites in Southport, FL had contaminated nearby ground water with high levels of the cancer-causing chemical hexavalent chromium. In 2012, Southern Company received approval to build two new nuclear reactors in Georgia, and it is passing along $1.7 billion of the cost of these plants to Georgia Power customers.

In 2012 Southern Company spent $1.4 million in political contributions, ranking them 17th in total lobbying expenditures out of all reporting corporations. It has also testified in Congress to urge the EPA to slow down the court-ordered implementation of Mercury and Air Toxics Standards. It has also gone to court to challenge the EPA’s Cross-State Air Pollution Rule – a measure that is estimated to save as many as 34,000 lives per year.

MidAmerican Energy

Affiliated Utilities

Carbon Intensity

Additional Information

Owns Pacific Power, Rocky Mountain Power, and MidAmerican Energy

1,721.0 (lbs/MWh)

The Clean Air Task Force estimates that pollution from MidAmerican Energy is associated with 4,305 asthma attacks per year. In 2010, several environmental groups released a report finding that two of MidAmerican’s coal ash waste dump sites in Iowa are contaminating ground water with arsenic, iron, manganese, and sulfate. Early in 2013, the company reached a settlement with the Sierra Club over alleged violations of the Clean Air Act.

MidAmerican’s parent company, Berkshire Hathaway, ranked 16th on the Political Economy Research Institute’s Toxic 100 Air Polluters List. The company is currently lobbying to build a nuclear facility in Iowa, while passing along the $2 billion in construction costs to consumers, even through the region already produces a surplus of electric power.

MidAmerican also testified to Congress in 2011 that complying with provisions of the Clean Air Act will cost jobs, despite analysis by the Economic Policy Institute that indicated that the regulations would actually create jobs.

Ameren

Affiliated Utilities

Carbon Intensity

Additional Information

Owns Ameren Illinois and Ameren Missouri

1,865.4 (lbs/MWh)

A coal ash waste pond at one of Ameren's plants in Missouri has been leaking into surrounding groundwater and the Missouri river since 1992. The adjacent coal plant was ranked the 4th worst mercury polluter in the U.S in 2010. In 2006, Ameren pledged to reduce sulfur dioxide emissions in one of its Illinois coal plants by 2015.

By 2012, it managed to convince the state Pollution Control Board to give it 5 additional years to comply, citing the “financial hardship” that the retrofits would cause – despite the fact that its 2012 second quarter earnings were up 51% over the previous year. Early in 2013, the Illinois Attorney General filed a complaint against the company alleging that it had illegally disposed of 180,000 tons of coal ash.

In 2009, Ameren earned a place on the Citizens for Tax Justice’s list of “Corporate Tax Dodgers” by paying no federal corporate income tax and receiving $73 million in tax rebates. It was a member of ALEC in 2011, and spent almost $300 thousand in contributions in 2012. Ameren has joined other petitioners in the electric utility industry to protest strengthening EPA regulations on power plant pollution, and to argue for the elimination of the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards and the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule.

PPL

Affiliated Utilities

Carbon Intensity

Additional Information

Owns Kentucky Utilities, Louisville Gas & Electric, and PPL Electric Utilities

1,545.6 (lbs/MWh)

The Clean Air Task Force estimates that pollution from PPL is associated with 373 heart attacks per year. The company’s Colstrip coal waste site in Montana made the EPA’s 2009 list of 44 “high hazard potential” waste dumps, and its Martin’s Creek coal waste pond in Pennsylvania was found to be contaminating surrounding groundwater with the cancer-causing chemical hexavalent chromium before it was shut down in 2007.

Federal regulators are currently investigating its Susquehanna nuclear plant after three unplanned reactor shutdowns in late 2012. Due to a reactor flooding incident in 2010 that was further complicated by shoddy maintenance practices, one of the reactors had already been downgraded to level 3 in the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s 5 tier safety rating system.

Out of 104 reactors in the U.S., only 4 others rank 3 or below. Despite making more than $2.1 billion in profits from 2008-2010, the company paid no federal income tax in two of these years, and averaged a tax rate of just 4.3% over this period. PPL’s subsidiaries have joined in suits to overturn the EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standards and Cross-State Air Pollution Rule.

Energy Future

Affiliated Utilities

Carbon Intensity

Additional Information

Owns Oncor, Luminant, and TXU Energy

1,746.8 (lbs/MWh)

In 2006, Texas Governor Perry fast-tracked the permitting process for 11 new coal plants in the state after the company and its employees had contributed over $100,000 to his re-election campaign. When the company was reorganized in 2007, it settled a series of lawsuits brought by environmental groups, and scrapped plans to build 8 out of 11 proposed new coal plants. The reorganization was the largest leveraged buyout ever, and the company is still struggling to repay debt incurred from the transaction.

In 2009, Energy Future Holding’s plants were the top two mercury emitters in the country. In 2010 and again in 2012, the Sierra Club filed suit against the company for alleged violations of the Clean Air Act. Four of the company’s coal plants in Texas make up over 25% of the state’s industrial air pollution. Energy Future Holdings is a member of ALEC, and in 2012, the company spent over $573 thousand in political contributions.

The company has joined in suits to overturn the EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standards and Cross-State Air Pollution Rule.

NRG

Affiliated Utilities

Carbon Intensity

Additional Information

Owns Energy Plus and Reliant Energy

1,685.3 (lbs/MWh)

In 2011, several environmental groups released a report finding that one of the company’s coal ash dump sites in Millsboro, DE had contaminated nearby ground water with high levels of the cancer-causing chemical hexavalent chromium. That year, the Delaware Division of Public Health had independently released a study finding rates of cancer in the six zip codes surrounding the waste site were 17% higher than the national average.

Early in 2013, several environmental groups announced their intent to sue NRG for violations of the Clean Water Act, alleging that three of its plants were exceeding nitrogen and phosphorus discharge limits in the Chesapeake Bay watershed area. During the period 2004-2009, two NRG facilities had amassed more Clean Water Act violations than any other coal plants in the country. Their Conemaugh plant in Pennsylvania received 521 total effluent violations, and was out of compliance in all of the quarters in which it was inspected. It was not fined for any of these violations.

In late 2012, NRG reached a settlement with the EPA in regards to violations of the CLean Air Act by one of its Louisiana coal plants. The company will spend $250 million to reduce air pollution and $10.5 million on pollution mitigation projects, and pay a $3.5 million civil fine.

Xcel Energy

Affiliated Utilities

Carbon Intensity

Additional Information

Owns Northern States Power Company, Public Service Company of Colorado, and Southwestern Public Service Company

1,579.9 (lbs/MWh)

In 2011, Xcel was acquitted by a jury of criminal liability in a 2007 accident at one of its hydropower plants that killed 5 workers. The incident was widely believed to be caused by shoddy work done by a contractor and Xcel’s willingness to sacrifice safety for the sake of cutting costs. In 2012, several environmental groups filed a suit against the EPA for lax enforcement of clean air regulations in the case of Xcel’s coal-fired plant in Becker, MN.

Over the period of 2008-2010, Xcel made over $3.1 billion in profits, yet averaged a federal income tax rate of only 1%. The Company’s CEO received a compensation package of over $6 million in 2012.  Xcel is the state corporate co-chair of ALEC in Wisconsin.

In 2011, after a multi-year campaign to pressure Xcel to support renewable energy, 70% of voters in Boulder, CO approved a ballot measure to allow the municipality to take over Xcel’s generation and transmission assets in the area and create its own publicly-owned utility.

Edison International

Affiliated Utilities

Carbon Intensity

Additional Information

Owns Southern California Edison and Midwest Generation

1,355.2 (lbs/MWh)

In 2009, the EPA and the Illinois State Attorney General filed suit against Edison International subsidiary, Midwest Generation, for violations of the Clean Air Act, and later investigations revealed that the company’s two plants in urban Chicago were the largest polluters in the area. In 2011, The Justice Department filed a Clean Air Act complaint against the company’s Homer coal-fired generating station in Pennsylvania, and was later joined in the motion by three states. Edison was unable to raise the capital to make the necessary retrofits to the plant.

The company’s San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station was shut down in 2012 after a small radiation leak led to the discovery of excessive wear on hundreds of recently-installed steam generator tubes. San Onofre already had more reported safety complaints from employees and contractors in the past 6 years than any other plant. Southern California Edison wants to restart the reactor at reduced capacity, but the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is still reviewing the filing.

Edison International spent over $13 million campaigning against a 2008 California ballot initiative to dramatically increase the amount of renewable energy that utilities were required to purchase.

FirstEnergy

Affiliated Utilities

Carbon Intensity

Additional Information

Owns Ohio Edison, The Illuminating Company, Toledo Edison, Met-Ed, Penelec, Penn Power, West Penn Power, Jersey Central Power & Light, Mon Power, and Potomac Edison

1254.4 (lbs/MWh)

In 2011, FirstEnergy made an offer to expand it coal waste dump site in Pennsylvania, already the largest in the country. After a local investigation revealed the elevated rates of heart disease, respiratory disease, and lung cancer in the areas surrounding the site, and further tests found nearby groundwater contaminated with sulfates, chlorides, and arsenic, the community refused to allow the expansion. Instead, FirstEnergy decided to ship the coal waste products upriver via open barge to another unlined disposal site.

In 2006, the company paid $28 million to settle criminal charges that it had lied to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission about the safety of its Davis-Besse plant in Ohio. Another of its Ohio plants, Perry Nuclear Generating Station, has been under investigation for numerous worker safety violations, and ranks in level 3 of the agency’s 5 tier safety ranking system. Early in 2013, a plant contractor died from injuries sustained while working in the plant.

Despite making more than $4.4 billion in profits from 2008-2010, the company paid no federal income tax in two of these years, and averaged a tax rate of just 3.3% over this period. The CEO, Anthony Alexander, made over $6.16 million in compensation in 2012. In this same year, the company spent over $1.2 million in political contributions.

DTE Energy

Affiliated Utilities

Carbon Intensity

Additional Information

Owns Detroit Edison

1773.2 (lbs/MWh)

In 2009, its Monroe Power Plant in Michigan was ranked 5th amoung the highest polluting plants in the country, according to EPA data. In that year, the EPA sued the company for making substantial modifications to this plant without using available technologies to minimize emissions, as required by the Clear Air Act.

Over the period of 2008-2010, DTE made over $2.5 billion in profits, yet averaged a negative federal tax rate of 0.7%. The Company’s CEO received a compensation package of over $5.4 million in 2012.

In Michigan, DTE is leading the lobbying campaign to promote fracking. It owns a 550-mile pipeline in the state, and hopes to profit from a natural gas boom.

 

Sources

Notes

All rankings were determined by total CO2 emissions in 2010 of power producers with retail operations that have carbon intensities above the nation average emissions rate (derived from EPA eGrid year 2009 data). All lobbying and political contribution figures were taken from the Center for Responsive Politics’ Opensecrets.org

Sources

See The Dirty Dozen