CfA Releases Report Exposing the Energy and Policy Institute
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 20, 2017
Contact: Daniel Stevens, email@example.com, 202.780.5750
WASHINGTON – Today, Campaign for Accountability (CfA) released a new report unmasking the Energy and Policy Institute (EPI) – an organization that describes itself as both a watchdog and a think tank – as the apparent project of a public relations firm. CfA’s report explains that EPI, which claims it “exposes attacks on clean-energy,” is just as secretive as the organizations it exposes.
CfA Executive Director Daniel Stevens said, “Reporters covering EPI’s work should understand that EPI is not a nonprofit interest group, but rather what appears to be a PR vehicle for clean tech companies.”
CfA’s investigation into EPI found that the group is not a typical watchdog or think tank: EPI does not disclose its annual tax return; it has no address beyond a post office box; its few employees appear to be scattered across the country; it is not registered with any Secretary of State’s office in states in which its employees appear to reside; and it does not release the names of any board members.
EPI’s founder and former executive director is Gabe Elsner, who previously worked for the Checks and Balances Project, a clean energy advocacy group, and Tigercomm a “cleantech marketing communications, PR and public affairs firm.” Tigercomm’s clients include several solar companies as well as the Solar Energy Industries Association.
Despite its opaque background, journalists tend to cover EPI’s findings and quote its employees as they would any nonprofit. For example, EPI recently released a report that received widespread media coverage regarding the funding of the Edison Electric Institute. News reports did not indicate, however, that EPI – like the Edison Electric Institute – appears to be funded by companies that profit financially from its work. E&E News did report, however, that EPI refused to confirm whether or not it has nonprofit status.
Mr. Stevens continued, “Green technology seeks to convey an image of not just cleaner energy, but also cleaner politics. In reality though, the Energy and Policy Institute is not very different from the Edison Electric Institute – the two just appear to work for competing business interests.”
UPDATE: On May 28, 2020 CfA updated the report after Alabama Secretary of State, John H. Merrill, sent a letter to an EPI representative, Daniel Tait, asking several questions about EPI’s funding and organization.
Campaign for Accountability is a nonpartisan, nonprofit watchdog organization that uses research, litigation, and aggressive communications to expose misconduct and malfeasance in public life and hold those who act at the expense of the public good accountable for their actions.