WASHINGTON D.C. — As the Labor Department releases its latest Consumer Price Index (CPI) report, a new analysis from government watchdog Accountable.US finds the top-nine U.S. utility companies have all worked to raise energy rates on consumers through the past year while seeing their net incomes rise a total of nearly $250 million to over $13.8 billion in 2022’s first three quarters. These companies also collectively spent over $11.2 billion on shareholder handouts in that same time. Accountable.US has previously documented how top companies across industries measured in the CPI have raised prices on everyday families despite reporting huge profits and giveaways to investors – gross profiteering that has continued unabated despite repeated interest rate hikes from the Fed.
Utility companies count their money while heating prices are “skyrocketing yet again” – 18% higher. As colder weather approached, one in six U.S. homes—about 20 million households—were behind an average of nearly $790 on their utility bills while experts warned of “‘a tsunami of shutoffs.’”
Well-heeled utility company CEOs are holding consumers’ feet to the fire with exorbitant energy prices. Not because they have to, judging by their own high profits and generous giveaways to wealthy investors -- but because they can with colder weather on the horizon. To prey on families who use a necessary service with unreasonable and unjustified rate hikes is corporate greed at its worst.”
Liz Zelnick, Accountable.US’ Director of Economic Security and Corporate Power
The CPI report also comes as Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell and other members of the Federal Open Markets Committee are set to meet this week to decide whether to impose another round of job-killing interest rate hikes despite a choir of criticisms from a range of economists, union leaders, and political figures that staying this course could cost jobs or even lead to a recession.
Like so many other industries during the pandemic, utility companies have chased higher and higher profits and enriched investors rather than keep prices stable for working families. While the economy is seeing signs of slowing inflation, it is clear corporate greed continues to be a primary driver of high costs on everything from groceries to heating bills – a problem that won’t be solved by the Fed’s one-track-minded policy of excessive interest rate hikes that threaten millions of jobs.”