Vistra Corp

InfluenceMap Score
C+
Performance Band
63%
Organisation Score
76%
Relationship Score
Sector:
Utilities
Head​quarters:
Irving, United States
Official Web Site:
Wikipedia:

Climate Lobbying Overview: Vistra Corporation (Vistra) appears to engage with mixed positions on U.S. federal and state climate policy, with a lobbying presence across multiple states including California, Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Texas. Although the company has advocated for a price on carbon and supports regional emissions trading schemes, it appears to promote the long-term role of fossil fuels. Vistra is a member of the Business Roundtable, which takes mixed positions on U.S. climate policy.

Top-line Messaging on Climate Policy: Vistra presents positive top-line messaging on climate policy in the U.S. In April 2021, Vistra joined the We Mean Business Coalition in advocating for President Biden to adopt emissions targets toward achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. In its 2021 Sustainability Report released in May 2022, the company states support for policies that “advance the country’s progress toward lowering GHG emissions.” Vistra expressed support for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) carbon pricing proposal in comments in November 2020, and reiterated its support for a federal price on carbon in April 2021 comments to FERC. In a January 2021 press release following the inauguration of President Biden, Vistra stated support for the objectives of the Paris Agreement, and in October 2021, former CEO Curtis Morgan signed the ‘Glasgow is Our Business’ ad advocating for policymakers and corporate leaders to make meaningful commitments at the November 2021 COP26.

Engagement with Climate-Related Policy: Vistra appears to engage with mixed positions on U.S. climate policy. In July 2022, the company signed a joint letter with the Solar Energy Industries Association advocating for President Biden and Congress to pass clean energy provisions through budget reconciliation. On the other hand, Vistra consistently advocated against eliminating the Minimum Offer Price Rule, stating in July 2021 comments to FERC that the elimination of the policy would likely “reduce capacity market revenues for the region’s generation fleet.” The company has likewise advocated against GHG emissions regulations, directly advocating to the EPA in March 2019 comments on New Source Performance Standards to support a narrow scope of emissions standards.

Vistra takes similarly mixed positions on regional and state climate policy. The company has supported the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), stating support for Pennsylvania joining the emissions trading scheme in an October 2019 press release and supporting RGGI and the Transportation and Climate Initiative in July 2020 comments to the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities. In January 2021 comments to the Pennsylvania Environmental Quality Board, Vistra stated support for Pennsylvania taking steps to join RGGI and further advocated for an expanded emissions trading program to cover the entire PJM market. However, the company submitted testimony opposing the Massachusetts Clean Energy Standard in May 2021 and Connecticut solar energy legislation in March 2020.

Positioning on Energy Transition: Vistra engages with mixed positions on the transition of the energy mix and appears to support the long-term role of fossil fuels, lobbying on both the federal and state level with varying degrees of support for decarbonization policies. On its legislative information website, Vistra states it believes that coal and fossil gas continue to have a role to play in the energy mix. The company advocated for policies to support fossil gas infrastructure in April 2021 comments to FERC, stating that “simply, gas-fired generation is, and will continue to be, a significant contributor to reliable grid operations.” In an interview with E&E News in October 2021, former CEO Curtis Morgan appeared to advocate for a weaker version of the proposed Clean Electricity Performance Program in the Biden administration reconciliation bill, saying that the company was “open-minded to the CEPP” and supported lowering the proposed compliance measures. Additionally, during the company’s Q1 earnings call in May 2022, Morgan emphasized that fossil gas was “critical to a rational and just transition to a decarbonized electric system.” In the company’s Q2 earnings call in August 2022, CEO Jim Burke appeared to support the Inflation Reduction Act but did not take a clear position on the legislation’s climate provisions.

Vistra demonstrates similar positions on the state level: although the company eventually supported the Illinois 2021 energy bill in September 2021, it had registered in opposition to the bill in the Illinois Energy and Environment Committee hearing in March 2021. Vistra also proposed the Coal to Solar and Energy Storage Act, part of which was incorporated into the bill and mandated a phase-out of all fossil fuel plants in the state by 2045. In both July 2020 comments and March 2021 comments to the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, the company appeared to advocate for a clean energy standard without specifying whether fossil fuels were excluded. In Vistra’s Massachusetts lobbying disclosures, company lobbyists reported direct engagement on various iterations of the 2022 climate bill with both neutral and oppositional positions.

Industry Association Governance: Vistra discloses its industry association memberships on its corporate website, but does not include any details on each organization’s climate change policy positions or its own alignment with each group. According to its 2020 Sustainability report, Vistra paid 2020 membership dues to the National Mining Association, a group that engages with highly negative positions on U.S. climate policy; however, as of 2022 the utility no longer appears to be a member of the NMA. Vistra CEO Jim Burke is a member of the Business Roundtable, which demonstrates mixed positions and has opposed both the Build Back Better Act and the Inflation Reduction Act. Vistra is also a member of the Zero Emission Transportation Association (ZETA), which engages with positive positions on regulatory measures toward the electrification of transportation in the U.S.

InfluenceMap collects and assesses evidence of corporate climate policy engagement on a weekly basis, depending on the availability of information from each specific data source (for more information see our methodology). While this analysis flows through to the company’s scores each week, the summary above is updated periodically. This summary was last updated in Q3 2022.

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DATA SOURCES
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Strength of Relationship
STRONG
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
WEAK
 
91%
 
91%
 
52%
 
52%
 
83%
 
83%

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.