Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA)
The Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA) is an energy industry PR and government affairs organization founded by Republican lobbyist Michael Whatley of HBW Resources, a leading proponent of the Keystone XL Pipeline and the Canadian tar sands industry. , , 
The CEA receives financial backing from petroleum giants, with its member groups including BP, ExxonMobil, Shell, and Chevron, among many others. With operational support from petroleum, gas, and energy infrastructure associations, the CEA engages in targeted media messaging and government lobbying to advance pro-industry agenda items such as offshore drilling, deregulation, and refineries expansion. 
The Center for Public Integrity (CIP) reported the group was founded in 2006, with a formative board consisting of executives from Shell and Hess Corporation, as well as a number of other industries. Jim Martin, Chairman of the 60 Plus Association, was also a board member. 
In 2011, FOIA requests and investigative reporting by Salon.com confirmed the CEA is an industry front group established to influence public perception and government regulation in favor of extractive energy industries. , 
CEA has faced multiple accusations (2014, 2016, and most recently in 2018) of submitting fake comments in support of legislation that would benefit utility companies, often at the cost of higher energy prices for consumers.
In documents filed with the IRS, the CEA describes their primary exempt purpose as a non-profit organization as “Education of the General Public,” and have listed their stated mission is “to expand the dialogue between the energy and consuming sectors.” 
As part of its purpose and mission, the CEA has engaged in media campaigns critical of proposed Low Carbon Fuel Standards. In 2011 tax filings the CEA listed as an accomplishment under its exempt purposes “specific outreach/education efforts to improve public understanding and negative economic impacts associated with currently proposed LCFS programs.” 
Energy4US.org describes itself as a “coalition of consumers, businesses and workers united in the belief that energy empowers us, allows us choices and improves our quality of life.” The group includes members such American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers and has focused on fighting against the renewable fuel standard among other regulations on the fossil fuel industry. 
According to the Internet Archive, as of 2015 the Consumer Energy Alliance's former website SecureOurFuels.org redirected to Energy4US.org (Secureourfuels.org is now owned by an industrial supply company).
Before SecureOurFuels (SOF) began redirecting to the Energy4US website in 2015, contact information at the SOF website listed names of CEA staff members Casey O’Shea, Michael Whatley and David Holt. Michael Whatley and David Holt are two of the three founders and partners listed at HBW Resources. 
The Energy4Us.org website features CEA vice president Michael Whatley’s work on low carbon fuel standards repeatedly. Referring to Whatley as a “leading low-carbon fuel expert,” the website also features Whatley’s talking points on its “Gettin’ the facts out” page. , 
American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) Ties
The Center for Media and Democracy's PR Watch reported that CEA's Michael Whatley regularly attended ALEC meetings. In August 2013, he attended their International Relations Task Force meeting with a briefing on the KXL pipeline. CEA has repeatedly attended ALEC events, often to present on issues related to the Keystone pipeline. 
CEA, HBW Resources, and Outer Continental Shelf Governors Coalition
In 2015, Facing South published the results of an 18-month investigation, and outlined the “unusual relationship” between the the Outer Continental Shelf Governors Coalition, a group founded in 2011 to expand offshore drilling following the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster, HBW Resources and its “sister group,” the Consumer Energy Alliance. 
HBW Resources also received of of CEA's expenses in 2016, as shown in IRS filings and reported at the Energy and Policy Institute. From 2010 to 2016, HBW received a total of $7,717,053 from CEA according to tax forms. 
Stance on Climate Change
July 3, 2013
“What’s so troubling about these potential EPA regulations? For electricity consumers, the rules will undoubtedly lead to an uncertain future for coal, but clear ramifications for consumers: less fuel diversity and higher electricity costs. EPA’s actions have the potential to shutter hundreds of coal-fired power plants across the nation, forcing utilities to switch generation fuel and invest billions in upgrades and new facilities. All this means higher costs for ratepayers.
“With coal producing over 40% of our nation’s electricity, limiting its potential will present a significant set of challenges that need to be carefully analyzed before we move forward with anything as ambitious as the President has outlined.”
“The President has laid out an aggressive plan – a plan that includes measures which will significantly and adversely affect electricity consumers across the United States for decades to come. Every homeowner, business, manufacturer and electricity consumer will undoubtedly feel the painful effects of higher energy costs under the President’s proposed plan. Congress must take an active oversight role in order to prevent these negative ramifications for our nation’s electricity consumers.”
The Energy and Policy Institute (EPI) reports that while CEA claims to take a pro-solar stance, their website solarenergyfuture.org “offers no pro-solar advocacy, and thinly-veiled utility attacks on rooftop solar companies.” 
“The strategy of appearing to promote solar while attacking it is straight from the utility industry’s playbook, both in terms of its revamped “pro-clean energy” messaging designed to confuse, and its political tactics,” EPI notes. 
CEA has supported Amendment 1 in Florida, while CEA member company Florida Light and Power was a major funder of the ballot initiative that EPI described as “a controversial ballot measure that would amend the state constitution to pave the way for more restrictions and fees for solar customers.” , 
CEA as Recipient
The following is based on data collected by the Conservative Transparency (CT) project and 990 tax forms. According to CT, the Consumer Energy Alliance received regular funding from the American Petroleum Institute and the American Natural Gas Alliance between 2008 and 2012. 
|American Natural Gas Alliance||(Subtotal $194,500)|
|American Petroleum Institute||(Subtotal $332,500)|
In addition to the above grants, CEA was also hired to carry out “consulting” services for at least $2 million according to American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers 990 forms.
|Year||Hiring Group||Description of Services||Compensation|
|2013||American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers||Consulting||$522,500|
|2012||American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers||Consulting||$790,000|
|2011||American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers||Consulting||$1,045,000|
Since 2011, according to publicly available 990 forms, the CEA has paid HBW Resources (which also lists CEA president David Holt as Managing Partner) over $1 million per year for “management and professional” services.
Below is a summary of 3rd party contractors hired by CEA, according to their annual 990s:
|Business Name||2010||2011||2012||2013||2014||2015||2016||Grand Total|
|Roetzel and Andress||$11,346||$11,346|
Board of Directors
|David Holt||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Ex-Officio||Consumer Energy Alliance|
|Mark Pulliam||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||SwayPay, Inc.|
|John Heimlich||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Vice Chair||Airlines for America|
|Wayne Zemke||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Caterpillar, Inc.|
|Brett Vassey||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Chairman||Virginia Manufacturers Association|
|Brian Welch||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Treasurer||Marsh Wortham|
|John Eichberger||Y||Y||Y||Y||National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS)|
|Randy Velarde||Y||Y||Y||The Plaza Group|
|Chad Eaton||Y||Nucor Corporation|
|Jennifer Diggins||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Nucor Corporation|
|Troy Bredenkamp||Y||Y||Y||Y||Nebraska Rural Electric Association|
|Rich Moskowitz||Y||Y||Y||Y||American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers|
|David Blackmon||Y||Y||Y||Y||El Paso Corporation|
|Melissa Taldykin||Y||Y||Y||Y||Consumer Energy Education Foundation|
|Andrew Browning||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Chief Operating Officer|
|Michael Whatley||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Executive Vice President|
|Brydon Ross||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Vice President, State Affairs|
|Emily Haggstrom||Y||Y||Y||Senior Director, Communications|
|Lauren Westcott||Y||Director, Communications|
|Kaitlin Hammons||Y||Director, Campaign Activities|
|Kathleen Koehler van Keppel||Y||Y||Director, Events and Special Programs|
|Michael Zehr||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Federal Policy Advisor|
|Mike Butler||Y||Y||Y||CEA-Mid Atlantic|
|Link Browder||Y||CEA-Mid Continent|
|Tommy Foltz||Y||Y||Y||Executive Vice President|
|James Voyles||Y||Y||Director, Policy Counsel|
|Kathleen Koehler||Y||Y||Y||Director, Events and Special Programs|
|Shawn Martini||Y||Y||Communications Director|
|Ryan Scott||Y||Y||Executive Director, CEA-Midwest|
|R.C. Hammond||Y||Communication Advisor|
|Natalie Joubert||Y||Policy Director|
- Bill Kovacs
- Carl Michael Smith
- Charlie Drevna
- David Blackmon
- David Harbour
- David L. Batt
- Don Juckett
- Elizabeth VanDersarl
- Frank W. Wagner
- Glenn Kramer
- Greg Cohen
- Heather McTavish Doucet
- Jan-Oddvar Sornes
- Jennifer Diggins
- Jim Martin
- John Heimlich
- Kathryn Robison
- Libby Cheney
- Marshall Cohen
- Mary Davis
- Michelle Michot Foss
- Rich Moskowitz
- Rosemary O'Brien
- Thomas L. Moskitis
- Todd McCracken
- Todd Thorner
CEA released its “2018 Solar Energy Report” that examined U.S. solar incentives. While CEA claims that it “strongly supports the expanded use of solar power nationally and in Arizona,” the report criticized existing incentives and solar installations. 
“[M]any states are re-examining the scope and methods surrounding their incentive programs and are now considering programs that rely more on a competitive marketplace to provide the economically optimal levels of rooftop solar adoption,” the report's press release suggests. CEA had commissioned ScottMadden Inc. for the work. 
CEA came under investigation for a set of identically-formatted emails supposedly from South Carolina citizens supporting Dominion Energy’s proposed $14.6 billion takeover of SCANA Corporation, The Post and Courier reported. 
“If you’ve got a utility or a group that is misappropriating people’s identities, I think that is a real problem,” said Senate Majority Leader Shane Massey, R-Edgefield. 
David Holt, CEA's president, confirmed the group had engaged in “grassroots” lobbying when it confirmed that Dominion wanted it to get involved. Dominion spokesman Chet Wade said the company had been apprised of the work before the fake emails became known. 
“The more we hear about this issue, the more we learn, the more it feels like there was a deliberate attempt to mislead the public by someone other than us or CEA,” Wade said. “We are puzzled by it. We are disturbed by it.” 
“The report admittedly ignores the robust studies that quantify the values of solar power, which are substantial,” and “also confuses rebates offered by utilities with government policies and criticizes third-party solar ownership models,” the Energy and Policy Institute reports. 
CEA was accused of submitting fake letters to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) shortly before the public comment period closed. An attorney representing groups opposing the pipeline had tracked the letters, and noted one came from a man who had died in 1998 while another was submitted by a woman with dementia. He also found similar language in 200 of the letters, leading them to suspect there could be a higher number of fraudulent letters. 
The Coalition to Reroute Nexus (CORN), a group of property owners opposing the Nexus Gas Transmission pipeline, filed a complaint at the FERC calling for a criminal review of CEA's actions in submitting comments in 347 letters to the FERC, The Plain Dealer reported. 
The complaint included affidavits from 14 Ohio residents who deny writing letters approving the pipeline and who said they never gave permission for CEA to write on their behalf. 
“This is an extremely serious matter,” attorney David Mucklow said in the filing. “Submission of hundreds of bogus comment letters during the comment period is calculated to convey the false impression that there is widespread public support for construction and operation of the pipeline.” 
CEA's President David Holt said that the Alliance has robocalled 25,000 homes asking for support for the project, and “then generated letters from questions asked by computers during the calls, attributing them the letters to owners of the telephone numbers dialed. Those letters were mailed to FERC with the residents' names but did not indicate CEA's involvement in the process.” 
CORN co-founder Jonathan Strong said the CEA's actions were “criminal”: 
“FERC does not seem to care about accountability,” Strong said. “The whole evaluation process has been co-opted by oil and gas. This is a new day. We must stand up against this kind of activity or it will not change.”
Strong said that every one of the 41 people CORN contacted whose letters appeared on the FERC website denied sending a letter. 
According to its public 990 forms, CEA paid the public affairs group Story Partners a total of $535,442 for “communication” services in 2016. Story Partners lists work for both the American Petroleum Institute and for Noble Energy, a Colorado oil and gas production company.
“By reframing the controversy from a fight between industry, government and citizens to an opportunity to promote energy independence and innovation, we successfully built public understanding and trust,” the Story Partners boasts on its website.
A Facing South investigation found that HBW Resources and CEA were instrumental in running the Outer Continental Shelf Governors Coalition, a group led by Pat McCrory (R) of North Carolina that promotes oil and gas drilling off the Atlantic Coast. 
CEA was accused of submitting fake comments as part of a submission supporting changes to the Wisconsin electricity grid. During the open comment period for the rule (5-UR-107) that had the potential to raise electricity rates for Wisconsin utility customers, CEA submitted “2,500 comments from Wisconsin electricity users who believe every energy consumer should pay a fair share for maintaining the electrical grid,” according to its CEA's petition letter. , 
When The Capital Times contacted signers of the petition, a number of those listed said that they strongly opposed the plan that CEA had contended they supported, citing increased utility bills. In one example, listed supporter Mary Frawley said she had been contacted by CEA on the phone and agreed to let them use her name under the assumption they were against the proposal. 
The Consumer Energy Alliance filed the same list of 2,500 names to the PSC in the We Energies rate case Another listed supporter, Elizabeth Westlund, said she had received a call months ago but that she had never signed a petition and was opposed to “anything that will raise my bill.” 
Peter Taglia, who runs the energy consulting business Clean Wisconsin, noted that CEA specialized in creating campaigns that appear to be grassroots support—referred to some as “astroturfing” or “greenwashing.” 
“If this is true, it undercuts the legitimacy of the PSC process,” Taglia said. “It's clear these out-of-state coal companies know they benefit from higher fixed fees on seniors, renters and low energy users.” 
CEA's Michael Whatley denied that anyone contacted by the Alliance was misled into using their name in the PSC comments. 
July 16, 2014
Marty Allday, executive director of Consumer Energy Alliance-Texas, wrote a column for the San Antonio Express-News suggesting Texans should “should not be misled by anti-development activists threatening to thwart their state’s energy boom and its resulting economic benefits.” 
“Texas can expect to see more of this in the coming months and years. As the fight over the Keystone XL pipeline (eventually) comes to a close, groups who made their opposition to that project their signature issue are looking for another fight. And hydraulic fracturing is in their crosshairs. A tsunami of activist cash will be rerouted to pick apart the boom in U.S. energy by attacking its game-changing technology,” Allday wrote. “Don’t fall for their scare tactics! Be proud of Texas’ production. Let’s all take stock in Texas energy and Texas pride!” 
As first reported on at Salon.com and The Tyee by Geoff Dembicki, new documents obtained via FOIA request revealed how CEA worked at national and state levels to fight against low carbon fuel standards (LCFS). As DeSmog noted, the new documents revealed how “lend insight into how CEA interacts with the Alberta government, and in turn, how the Alberta government, working alongside CEA, influences the American government at both the state and federal level.” , , 
July 20, 2010
CEA launched a $1 million ad campaign in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana and Minnesota fighting against the most recent low carbon fuel standard proposal in Congress drafted by Michigan senator Debbie Stabenow. As The Tyee reported, mails released later under a freedom of information request revealed CEA's communication on the topic: , 
“Not sure if you are aware of this potential threat,” read an email sent to Whatley from an unnamed source. ”[The National Petrochemical and Refiner’s Association] is implementing an aggressive media, grassroots and lobbying effort against this potential amendment.”
CEA's campaign began approximately a week after the email. 
June 14, 2010
“During this time of unprecedented economic uncertainty, instituting a region-wide policy designed to drive up gas and diesel prices and make essential energy commodities such as home heating oil a whole lot more scarce doesn’t make a whole lot of sense,” said Michael Whatley, vice president of Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA) who moderated the forum. “Maybe the more unfortunate reality of the LCFS, though, is that it won’t do a thing to reduce global concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. But that’s the LCFS: All pain, no gain.”
CEA started running radio ads warning that policies supporting a low carbon fuel standard would “threaten thousands of American jobs” and “would be disastrous for American consumers.” Each ad urged viewers to contact their state's representatives in Congress. In the ad campaign, initially running in Tennessee, Montana, and the Dakotas, CEA claimed gasoline prices, “would increase by at least 60 cents a gallon.” 
- HBW Resources — Founding organization and lobbying contractor
- Outer Continental Shelf Governors Coalition — See memorandum, with CEA designated as “volunteer staff for the Coalition” 
- American Shale & Manufacturing Partnership — Member (See AFPM 2014 Annual Report) 
- N.C. Energy Coalition (NCEC) — Member 
- General Electric
- National Association of Manufacturers
- 60 Plus Association
- U.S. Chamber of Commerce
- American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers
- American Gas Association
- Dominion Resources Inc.
- Edison Electric Institute
- Energy Transfer Partners
- Independent Petroleum Association of America
- Shell Oil
- U. S. Oil & Gas Association
- Xcel Energy
Contact & Address
Consumer Energy Alliance
2211 Norfolk Street, Suite 410
Houston, TX 77098
(713) 337-8800 (main number)
Geoff Dembicki. “How Big Oil and Canada Thwarted US Carbon Standards,” The Tyee, December 15, 2011. Archived November 2, 2018. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/RPVQw
“Whatley, Michael D,” OpenSecrets.org. Accessed November 2, 2018.], [“Guest Opinion: Keystone XL is economically, environmentally sound,” Lincoln Journal Star, May 16, 2017.
Michael Whatley. “Why Oil Sands Crude is Still Good for the United States,” Townhall, November 12, 2011. Archived November 2, 2018. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/EG7Ef
Nicholas Kusnetz. “Governors and oil industry work hand in hand in offshore drilling group,” The Center for Public Integrity, November 24, 2014. Archived November 2, 2018. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/GhHRs
“NEW CAMPAIGN SEEKS TO EDUCATE PUBLIC ON NEGATIVE IMPACTS OF A NATIONWIDE LOW CARBONFUEL STANDARD (LCFS),” Energy4US. Archived November 5, 2018. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/nrJn1
“CEA VICE PRESIDENT MICHAEL WHATLEY: AN LCFS IS THE WRONG CHOICE FOR NORTHEAST/MID-ATLANTIC CONSUMERS,” Energy4US. Archived November 5, 2018. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/8nuTe
“Oil Industry Conjures Illusion of Public Support for KXL Using ALEC Politicians,” PR Watch, March 12, 2014.
Nick Surgey. “ALEC Tours Tar Sands, Works with Industry Groups to Block Low-Carbon Fuel Standards,” PR Watch, June 17, 2013.
Sue Sturgis. “DRIVE TO DRILL: Energy lobbyists behind governors' crusade for Atlantic oil,” April 30, 2015. Archived November 2, 2018. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/dC6Ky
Derek Seidman. “Oil & Gas Industry-Backed Astroturf Firm Cherry Picks Poll Results on Support for Pipelines in Northeast,” Littlesis, August 8, 2017.
“Consumer Energy Alliance,” Energy and Policy Institute. Accessed November 2, 2018.
Michael Whatley. “Whatley: President’s Climate Plan Worries Industry, Consumers,” Consumer Energy Alliance, July 3, 2013. Archived November 4, 2018. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/O6i9X
Kevin Doyle. “Amendment 1 would boost solar energy and benefit all: My Word,” Orlando Sentinel, June 12, 2016. Archived November 6, 2018. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/8FwRS
Matt Kasper. “Florida Power Companies Continue To Spend Money Supporting Amendment 1 To Limit Solar,” Energy and Policy Institute, October 28, 2016.
“Consumer Energy Alliance,” Conservative Transparency. Accessed November 2, 2018.
“Incentivizing Solar Energy: An In-Depth Analysis of U.S. Solar Incentives” (PDF), Consumer Energy Alliance. June 2018.
“New 2018 Solar Energy Report; Finds Incentives Contributed Significantly to Solar Power Expansion in Arizona,” Consumer Energy Alliance, June 14, 2018. Archived November 4, 2018. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/RdoEr
Sue Sturgis. “Industry front group that ran McCrory's offshore drilling campaign accused of lawbreaking in pipeline promotion,” Facing South, November 3, 2016.
“Incentivizing Solar Energy: An In-Depth Analysis of U.S. Solar Incentives” (PDF), Consumer Energy Alliance.
Steve Horn. “'Consumer Energy Alliance' Front Group Exposed by The Tyee and Salon,” DeSmog, December 15, 2011.
Darren Goode. “Industries use airwaves to attack low-carbon fuel mandate,” The Hill, July 20, 2010. Archived November 2, 2018. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/iBAXx
“Final Report: Clean Energy Mission – Eastern United States” (PDF), Government of Alberta, October 4, 2010. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.
“Alberta Minister Urges Northeast Governors to be Cautious When Considering LCFS,” SecureOurFuels.org, June 14, 2010. Archived June 18, 2012. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/4L2dg
Keith Johnson. “Fuel Fight: The Battle over Low-Carbon Fuel Standards,” The Wall Street Journal, August 31, 2009. Archive .fo URL: https://archive.fo/7O4nU
“Louisiana Documents,” Retrieved from DocumentCloud. Contributed by: Nicholas Kusnetz, Center for Public Integrity.
“American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers 2014 Annual Report” (PDF). Retrieved from afpm.org.
Sue Sturgis. “Meet the gas industry front group exploiting the homeless to promote NC fracking,” Facing South, September 18, 2014. Archived November 4, 2018. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/MDjcM
Kate Sheppard. “Lobbyist-Tied Group Accused Of Faking Support For Potentially Higher Energy Bills,” HuffPost, October 31, 2014. Archived November 14, 2018.
“Public Comments regarding 5-UR-107” (PDF), Consumer Energy Alliance, October 7, 2014. Archived .pdf on file at Desmog.
Mike Ivey. “Did Houston energy group dupe MGE customers to back rate changes?” The Capital Times, October 21, 2014. Archived November 14, 2018. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/5NmBU
“Nexus pipeline opponents urge U.S. postal service to investigate lobbying group (photos),” The Plain Dealer, September 16, 2016. Archived November 14, 2018. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/enQPC
“Know the Value” (PDF), Consumer Energy Alliance. Retrieved from storypartnersdc.com.
Andrew Brown. “S.C. lawmakers call for law enforcement probe of bogus pro-utility emails,” The Post and Courier, February 19, 2018. Archived November 14, 2018. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/2kxuw
“Consumer Energy Alliance,” SourceWatch.
“ALEC Tours Tar Sands, Works with Industry Groups to Block Low-Carbon Fuel Standards,” PR Watch, June 17, 2013.
“Oil Industry Conjures Illusion of Public Support for KXL Using ALEC Politicians,” PR Watch, March 12, 2014.
“Canadian oil lobby trying to kill US clean energy policy,” DeSmog, June 30, 2010.