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Solar and wind energy companies boost Republicans' coffers: analysis

Solar and wind energy companies boost Republicans' coffers: analysis

Renewable energy industries are donating more money to Republicans than to Democrats, a marked shift from a group typically aligned with the environmental left, according to a new analysis from Reuters.

Wind and solar energy companies donated more to Republican congressional races than Democratic ones during the current election cycle, the analysis found.

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Political action committees (PACs) for solar and wind companies have donated almost $400,000 to candidates and PACs in the 2018 election cycle, according to campaign finance records reviewed by the news outlet. The donations include $247,000 to Republicans, $139,300 to Democrats and $7,500 to Independents.

In 2014, Democrats received 70 percent of contributions from the top seven major wind and solar PACs, Reuters reported. At the time, Democrats were seen as embracing policies that more greatly benefited the industry, including providing subsidies to prop up the emerging renewable resource sector. 

Today, however, many renewable sectors are booming, outgrowing traditional energy industries like coal. That shift, paired with stunning job growth in those sectors — nearly six times more than coal mining, according to Reuters — has largely been seen in states that voted for President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump rages against '60 Minutes' for interview with Krebs Cornyn spox: Neera Tanden has 'no chance' of being confirmed as Biden's OMB pick Pa. lawmaker was informed of positive coronavirus test while meeting with Trump: report MORE in 2016.

While the donations still pale in comparison to those from the fossil fuel industry, the support shows a changing of tides from a clean energy sector and offers clout to Republicans vying for voters who increasingly care about clean fuels.

“Solar is creating economic activity in so many districts,” Abigail Ross Hopper, head of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), told Reuters. SEIA, whose donations have tended toward the GOP, has also changed its rhetoric to match.

Global warming “is certainly not our lead talking point,” Hopper said.

SEIA alone has contributed nearly double funding to Republicans than Democrats this cycle, $56,500 versus $26,700, according to the analysis.