Edison International is a holding company with several subsidiaries (pdf). Among these, the principal operating subsidiaries are Southern California Edison and Edison Mission Group. The company traces its roots back to 1886, and celebrated its 125th anniversary in July 2011.
Southern California Edison (SCE) is a publicly owned and regulated electric utility, responsible for distributing energy to 180 cities and 14 million people in California. SCE owns five generating facilities, which are powered by coal, natural gas, hydroelectric, and nuclear energy. In addition to electricity from these plants, SCE buys renewable energy for distribution to customers. Although SCE provides its customers with more renewable energy than any other utility in the United States, renewable energy makes up less than 20% of SCE’s energy portfolio. According to California law, this will have to increase to 33% percent by 2020.
Edison Mission Group (EMG) is itself the parent company for Edison Capital and Edison Mission Energy (EME). Edison Capital controls the financial aspects of EMG and manages investments both domestically and abroad. EME is an independent power producer involved in the operation of forty-five power generation facilities across the country. The company owns a share of 10,174 MW of capacity in these plants, which include numerous fossil fuel facilities, as well as a portfolio of wind generation projects.
Midwest Generation, LCC (MWG) was formed in 1999 and is a subsidiary of EME. MWG operates or supervises seven coal-fired power plants in Illinois and Pennsylvania, including the Fisk and Crawford plants in Chicago.
As a whole, Edison International emits 62.9 million tons of carbon dioxide per year. According to the EPA, this is equivalent to the amount of carbon sequestered annually by over 12 million acres of pine forest, which is approximately the size of Vermont and New Hampshire combined. In reference to reducing carbon emissions the company has said, “Edison International does not believe that currently there are commercially and technically feasible, full scale methods to control greenhouse gas emissions from its subsidiaries’ existing fossil-fueled generating facilities.”
Sited in Chicago, MWG’s Fisk and Crawford facilities are located in a more highly populated area than any other coal plant in the country. The Clean Air Task Force estimates that the cost of health impacts from Fisk and Crawford’s air pollution totaled almost $330 million in 2010 alone, due to premature deaths and increased instances of bronchitis, heart attack, asthma attack, and associated visits to the hospital and emergency room. MWG maintains (pdf), however, that “there is no evidence that closing Fisk and Crawford would reduce asthma in Chicago neighborhoods.” As a whole, the negative health impacts from all of EME's coal-fired power plants exceeded $2.3 billion in 2010.
In August 2009, the EPA and Justice Department charged MWG with violations of the Clean Air Act at their six Illinois coal-fired power plants. Under the New Source Review Program of the Clean Air Act, renovations to existing plants must acquire and adhere to the proper permits so that the law “assures people that any large new or modified industrial source in their neighborhoods will be as clean as possible, and that advances in pollution control occur concurrently with industrial expansion.” According to the lawsuit, MWG's plants were releasing illegal quantities of pollution because MWG had failed to install needed pollution controls when the plants were modified. In 2010, a federal judge dismissed nine out of the thrity-eight counts against MWG, arguing that some of the plant modifications occurred before MWG purchased the plants in 1999, releasing them from liability for those violations.
A similar case was brought against MWG’s Homer City power plant in Pennsylvania in early 2011, but it was also dismissed. Of all power plants in the country, the Homer City plant ranks fourth for sulfur dioxide (pdf) emissions and seventh for toxic air pollution. The Homer City plant was also the first entity to sue the EPA on the agency's Clean Air Act Transport Rule, arguing that the pollution regulations (pdf) would cause “untold economic hardship and other grave harm across the country, and to petitioner specifically.” The EPA (pdf) estimates that the health and welfare benefits of the rule would amount to somewhere between $120 and $290 billion, whereas the costs to utilities were estimated at $2.8 billion.
SCE’s Visalia Poleyard, located in a predominately agricultural area of California, was in operation from the 1920s through 1980. For decades, the poleyard used toxic chemicals to treat wooden utility poles, contaminating soil and groundwater in the surrounding area. The poleyard became and EPA "superfund" site, with remediation efforts ending in 2004.
Edison International’s lobbying expenditures exceeded $11.3 million from 2008-2012 (quarter 3). In the decade spanning 2000-2010, the company spent $19.6 million lobbying for the interests of electric utilities. Edison International lobbyists include former senator J. Bennett Johnston, as well as many others who have held government positions in the past.
Since the 2008 election cycle, Edison has spent over $1.5 million on federal political candidates and committees.