BOSTON — Companies representing a range of energy interests, from old-school oil and gas to renewables like solar and wind power, are pumping millions into lobbying efforts in Massachusetts.
In 2018, as many as 70 energy businesses and advocacy groups reported spending at least $5.3 million trying to get their messages through to Beacon Hill legislators and policymakers, according to an Associated Press review of public lobbying records. Some of the top spenders were involved in renewable energy.
The spending was much the same in 2017, when a similar number of groups spent about $5.1 million on lobbying.
It's a dramatic shift from 2005, when just two dozen companies reported spending a total of about $1.2 million on lobbying. Few of those companies were primarily involved in renewable power.
The spending comes at a time when Massachusetts is undertaking a long-term seismic shift in its energy landscape with the rise of solar, hydro and wind power, including what could be the nation's largest industrial-scale wind farm south of Martha's Vineyard known as Vineyard Wind.
The growth of renewable energy is in part due to a 2016 bipartisan energy bill signed by Republican Gov. Charlie Baker that authorized the largest procurement of clean energy generation in Massachusetts' history, including approximately 1,600 megawatts of offshore wind energy.
The lobbying also comes as the state has lost a major energy producer. The Pilgrim nuclear power plant in Plymouth, which began generating electricity in 1972, was permanently closed in May.
The company spending the most on lobbying in 2018 was NextEra Energy, which describes itself as the world's largest utility company and the largest producer of wind and solar energy. The company spent about $372,000 on lobbying which it said was related to "the production, transmission, distribution, sale and ancillary services associated with electricity."
Anbaric Development Partners, which spent the next highest amount on lobbying — $330,000 — specializes in "early stage development of large-scale electric transmission systems, the transformation of the electric and heating/cooling systems on campuses and storage solutions surrounding microgrid projects" according to its website.
ENGIE North America, which spent $222,000 on lobbying, focuses on "energy, energy services, renewable energy, energy storage, retail electricity, natural gas and liquefied natural gas" according to its lobbyist filing with the Massachusetts secretary of state's office.
Joe Dalton, a representative of the company, said in a statement that ENGIE has multiple businesses in Massachusetts and is upfront about all of its spending on lobbying.
"We regularly engage constructively in public policy discussions that affect our business activities in the region," Dalton said. "We work to be completely comprehensive and transparent in our costs, ranging from phone, travel, and staff time for meetings, to the full retainer of a public affairs firm."
Equinor Wind, a Norwegian-based firm hoping to build an offshore wind farm south of Martha's Vineyard, was also one of the companies spending a significant amount on lobbying in 2018 — $180,000.
David O'Connor, a lobbyist representing Equinor Wind, said the company is still in the early stages of pulling the project together.
"The company would like to provide power to Massachusetts or some New England state so they're in the midst of doing all of the analysis of the area, including talking to stakeholders and fishermen," O'Connor said.
It wasn't just renewable energy companies that reported significant spending on lobbying.
Entergy, which owns the now-shuttered Pilgrim nuclear power plant in Plymouth spent more than $190,000 on lobbying, while Spectra Energy, now owned by Enbridge Inc., spent $312,000. The company's projects include oil and natural gas pipelines and wind energy.
The American Petroleum Institute spent nearly $94,000 on lobbying.
But Orsted Wind Power North America, Inc., which is pursuing offshore wind projects off the coast of Massachusetts and Rhode Island — spent about $237,000 on lobbying in Massachusetts.