NRG Energy

InfluenceMap Score
C-
Performance Band
49%
Organisation Score
71%
Relationship Score
Sector:
Utilities
Head​quarters:
Houston, United States
Official Web Site:
Wikipedia:

Climate Lobbying Overview: NRG Energy (NRG) demonstrates negative and strategic engagement on U.S. climate policy, with a lobbying presence across multiple states including California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Texas. Although the company offers positive top-line support for ambitious federal climate policy, it frequently emphasizes market-based measures over government regulation, especially at the state level. NRG is a member of Business Roundtable, which has strongly opposed the Build Back Better Act as a means of passing climate policy in the US.

Top-line Messaging on Climate Policy: NRG offers mostly positive top-line messaging on climate policy. The company has signed several C2ES joint letters advocating to President Biden and Congress for a government response to climate change, including in January 2021 and in July 2021. However, NRG seems to prefer market-based approaches over other forms of policy, as it emphasized in its December 2020 comments on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) carbon pricing docket. In January 2021, the company Tweeted its support for the Biden administration’s decision to rejoin the Paris Agreement.

Engagement with Climate-Related Policy: NRG demonstrates mostly negative engagement on federal and state climate policies. The company advocated in favor of market-based incentives over a carbon tax in May 2020 comments to the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU), echoing CEO Gutierrez’s January 2018 statement to the Columbia Center on Global Energy Policy that he is “not a big carbon tax proponent.” NRG has also advocated against eliminating the expanded Minimum Offer Price Rule, which hindered renewable energy development within the existing capacity market, including in April 2021 comments to FERC. In March 2021, NRG registered in opposition to the 2021 Illinois Clean Energy Jobs Act, which included provisions for renewable energy and energy efficiency. That same month, the company submitted testimony in opposition to Rhode Island H. 5762, which would raise the state renewable portfolio standard to 100% by 2030. NRG also appears to oppose distributed energy policies, including in its February 2021 testimony against Maryland House Bill 768 and its March 2020 testimony against Connecticut House Bill 5349. NRG’s Q1 2021 lobbying report for California includes engagement on the state’s Renewables Portfolio Standard Program without disclosing a position. NRG also lists several pieces of legislation in its Ohio lobbying reports, including bills to reinstate renewable energy standards after the fallout of House Bill 6, without disclosing a position.

Positioning on Energy Transition: NRG demonstrates a generally negative position on the transition of the energy mix and appears to support the long-term role of fossil fuels. On its corporate website, NRG appears to advocate for the continued role of coal in the energy mix and states support for fossil gas and hydrogen without setting clear conditions on CCS or methane abatement measures. The company has also opposed measures to phase out fossil fuels in specific states. In Illinois, NRG has stated a preference for a market-based model toward decarbonization since at least 2019, and registered in opposition to the 2021 Illinois Clean Energy Jobs Act to establish a statewide clean energy mandate. When New York state regulators denied fossil gas plant permits in October 2021, including NRG’s own power plant, the company stated that the decision was “bad public policy.” NRG appeared to oppose electrification mandate proposals in its February 2022 comments to the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities docket on future gas capacity, and has lobbied with similar positions on the federal level: in July 2021, Utility Dive reported remarks from NRG stating that President Biden’s plan to decarbonize the power sector by 2035 was overly ambitious and likely not feasible. Additionally, during negotiations in September 2021 on the proposed Clean Electricity Performance Program in the federal reconciliation bill, NRG appeared to support the CEPP while offering some caveats around adapting the program to different electricity markets. The company’s Q3 2021 federal lobbying report states engagement on the CEPP without disclosing a position.

NRG often emphasizes economic competitiveness and cost-effectiveness over the need to rapidly decarbonize the energy mix. The company has advocated for a Forward Clean Energy Market (FCEM), a concept that would create a competitive market for clean energy credits, including in November 2019 comments to the New York Public Service Commission, February 2020 comments on Maryland FCEM-enabling legislation, and May 2020 comments to the New Jersey BPU, which offered FCEM as a solution to prioritize competition-preserving mechanisms over other forms of policy. Additionally, NRG has advocated for a FCEM at the federal level in September 2019 testimony before the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce. NRG also appears to support market-based approaches toward transport electrification. In January 2022 comments to the Federal Highway Administration, NRG supported electric vehicle deployment while emphasizing market-based policies over other forms of policy. Similarly, in October 2021 comments to the New Jersey BPU, the company directly advocated for policymakers to moderate efforts to build out electric vehicle infrastructure and to rely instead on private capital investment.

Industry Association Governance: NRG’s corporate website provides limited transparency on its memberships to industry associations and provides no further details on each organization’s climate policy positions or the company’s own role in shaping them. NRG Energy is a member of the Solar Energy Industries Association, which actively lobbies for ambitious climate policy in the US. NRG is also a member of the National Petroleum Council and the Business Roundtable (BRT), both of which have engaged in obstructive lobbying on climate and energy policy in the US, albeit with more mixed engagement from BRT.

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Strength of Relationship
STRONG
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
WEAK
 
50%
 
50%
 
42%
 
42%
 
91%
 
91%
 
52%
 
52%
 
93%
 
93%
 
84%
 
84%
 
95%
 
95%

How to Read our Relationship Score Map

In this section, we depict graphically the relationships the corporation has with trade associations, federations, advocacy groups and other third parties who may be acting on their behalf to influence climate change policy. Each of the columns above represents one relationship the corporation appears to have with such a third party. In these columns, the top, dark section represents the strength of the relationship the corporation has with the influencer. For example if a corporation's senior executive also held a key role in the trade association, we would deem this to be a strong relationship and it would be on the far left of the chart above, with the weaker ones to the right. Click on these grey shaded upper sections for details of these relationships. The middle section contains a link to the organization score details of the influencer concerned, so you can see the details of its climate change policy influence. Click on the middle sections for for details of the trade associations. The lower section contains the organization score of that influencer, the lower the more negatively it is influencing climate policy.