Virginia Energy Consumer Trust – Institute for Energy and Policy
The Virginia Energy Consumer Trust is a Virginia-based pro-gas front group. The group is closely associated with the Virginia Manufacturers Association, an influential trade and industry lobbying group. VECT is also tied to the Consumer Energy Alliance, a national front group promoting fractured gas.
Virginia Energy Consumer Trust First appeared publicly in May 2021. According to its website, VECT “was created to amplify the voice of energy consumers” living in Virginia — but it largely promotes fracked gas while tackling renewable energy. The group links to a PragerU video undermining wind and solar, and promotes the website of a group called Virginians for Responsible Energy that opposes wind power development. The right-wing PragerU has become a major purveyor of climate change denial and other misinformation in recent years.
Using the slogan “the electric economy costs too much!”, VECT plans to roll out an anti-electrification campaign, attacking a key climate solution to wean entire sectors from the fossil fuel economy. VECT is also calling for the repeal of the Virginia Clean Economy Act, a bill legislating the state’s transition to zero carbon by mid-century.
Virginia Manufacturers Association Link
Although the group does not list its members or funders on its website, a December 2021 filing with the Virginia Secretary of State reveals that the Virginia Manufacturers Association (VMA) wields significant influence over the group. According to the filing, which establishes VECT as a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization, the VMA’s chief executive appoints VECT’s Class A directors. The VMA can also remove Class A directors from the group and fill vacancies on the board.
Neither VECT’s website nor its original filing with the state of Virginia lists the group’s administrators. But a hearing in the Virginia legislature in September 2021 revealed that one of the trustees is David Delguercio. Delguercio, a former executive at chemical maker Evonik and former VMA board trustee, presented alongside VECT executive director David Hudgins before the Virginia Manufacturing Development Commission. Delguercio presented himself as administrator of VECT.
Website analysis shows that VECT’s site is hosted on VMA’s web server, indicating a close relationship between the two groups.
A VECT report touting improvements in several Virginia environmental measures also credits the VMA for its contributions to the report.
VECT did not respond to questions from the Energy and Policy Institute about membership, funders, or whether it wanted to clarify its ties to VMA. VMA also did not respond to EPI’s questions about its connection to VECT.
Other fossil fuel links
Virginia’s largest and most influential utility, Dominion Energy, sits on VMA’s board of directors, but the group’s ties to energy and fossil fuel interests don’t end there. Current VMA CEO Brett Vassey – who appoints VECT’s Class A directors – chairs the board of the Consumer Energy Alliance, a national pro-gas group led by Houston-based lobbying firm HBW Resources . The CEA, which is backed by some of the nation’s largest fossil fuel and utility companies, uses a variety of political and grassroots influence campaigns to promote oil and gas pipelines and LNG facilities while fighting proposals. electrification and renewable energy.
According to VECT’s incorporation documents, its registered agent is Meade Spotts of Spotts Fain PC law and lobbying firm. Spotts is registered to lobby, among others, Shell Energy North America and the PJM Power Providers Group, an organization of major independent power producers including Calpine, Vistra, NRG and Talen Energy.
VECT executive director David Hudgins is a former lobbyist for the Old Dominion Electric Cooperative (ODEC), which provides wholesale power generation to 11 member co-operatives in Virginia, Maryland and Delaware. More than a decade ago, Hudgins clashed with environmentalists in Virginia over ODEC’s proposal to build a coal-fired power plant in Isle of Wight County.
In a 2010 op-ed, he blamed opponents of investments in “traditional coal and nuclear baseload power generation” as proponents of “junk science and unproven theories.” According to Hudgins, “They would have Virginians believe that our future electric power needs would be adequately met through government mandated energy efficiency measures and ‘rationing’, in combination with wind power generation.”
ODEC never built the plant.