If you were ever in doubt about the energy lobby”s influence in Austin, just check out a new report from the National Institute on Money in State Politics. According to the organization, Energy Future Holdings, the parent company of TXU, made $869,050 in Texas political contributions in 2008. Another $395,129 came from Houston’s CenterPoint Energy.

The Montana-based organization compared political expenditures made by Texas energy and environmental interests in 2008. What it found was not just a tiny spending gap between those two interest groups — but rather a massive spending canyon. For instance, the report found that alternative energy groups made about $43,600 in political contributions in 2008, while the energy industry contributed $7 million — or about 170 times more. Although not specifically highlighted by the National Institute study, the analsyis also helps illustrate the uphill battle faced by those advocating on behalf of electric consumers. For instance, the report shows that electric utilities contributed more than $2.2 million to Texas candidates and political parties in 2008. And the year before the electric industry spent between $18 million and $30 million on 467 lobby contracts, according to a separate analysis.

A quick check of the lobby lists at the Texas Ethics Commission likewise reveals that the industry lobby outnumbers residential and commercial consumer representatives by at least 30-1 in Austin.

–R.A. Dyer

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