Non-profit

Citizens Action Coalition

Website:

www.citact.org

Location:

INDIANAPOLIS, IN

Tax ID:

35-1345514

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(4)

Budget (2019):

Revenue: $699,447
Expenses: $718,037
Assets: $69,154

Formation:

1974 (original “Citizens Energy Coalition”)

Type:

Environmental and Healthcare Advocacy Group

Executive Director:

Kerwin Olson

Citizens Action Coalition (formerly Citizens Energy Coalition) is a political advocacy organization that lobbies for left-of-center causes, especially environmentalist policies, in Indiana. It was formed in 1974 when several labor unions, churches, nonprofits, and other organizations, united by their shared environmentalist outlook and concern that utility companies were exploiting consumers, joined to influence politics at the state level. [1] [2]

CAC is related to the Citizens Action Coalition Education Fund, a charitable organization. [3]

Background

Citizens Action Coalition was formed in 1974 as the Citizens Energy Coalition. Its early actions included convincing the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) to adopt a “Consumer Bill of Rights,” which expanded Indiana consumers’ abilities to make appeals against utility companies, and forcing American Electric Power to rebate consumers $41 million. [4]

Originally, CAC seldom championed any other causes besides actions against utility companies, but in the 2000s, it began adopting a broader left-of-center advocacy platform aligned with Democratic Party policy priorities. It added “preserv[ing] democracy,” “conserv[ing] natural resources,” and “provid[ing] affordable access to essential human services” to its mission statement and began lobbying for various left-of-center social, economic, and environmentalist causes. [5]

Activities

Citizens Action Coalition’s executive director Kerwin Olson has stated that his group’s greatest success “without question is the defeat of the Marble Hill Nuclear power plant.” He went on to list “pollution prevention network, CHOICE home health care,” and interventions in utility cases presented before the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) as CAC’s other higher-ranking initiatives. [6]

CAC pursues its advocacy mainly by lobbying the Indiana State House of Representatives and intervening at the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission. [7] The coalition relies on door-to-door and phone canvassing to build its membership, receive donations, and mobilize citizens. [8]

Marble Hill Nuclear Power Plant

In 1977, the utility company Public Service Indiana (now Duke Energy) began constructing a nuclear power plant in Marble Hill, Indiana. While nuclear power plant construction is very expensive compared to other sources of energy production, Public Service Indiana (PSI) pledged that upfront costs would be balanced out by money saved in the future due to the nuclear plant’s lower operational costs. [9] Construction ended in 1984 when PSI officially canceled the program, citing overwhelming costs and a lack of funds after having already spent $2.5 billion. [10]

During the project’s construction, left-of-center organizations such as the Paddlewheel Alliance led demonstrations against the plant, including break-in occupations of PSI property which led to dozens of arrests. [11] [12] [13] After the Three Mile Island nuclear incident occurred in March 1979, nearly 200 protestors gathered outside PSI offices to urge the company to stop construction on the plant. That June, 200 Paddlewheel Alliance members marched on the Marble Hill plant itself, 89 protestors of which were arrested. [14]

In the early 1980s, CAC took legal action to cancel the PSI construction project. CAC initially defeated two Construction Work In Progress bills and then prevented PSI from billing consumers $2.7 billion to keep up with construction costs, forcing PSI to abandon the Marble Hill construction project. [15] [16]

In 1990, PSI tried to raise rates to make up for its profits lost due to CAC’s shutdown of the Marble Hill project, CAC again took legal action against PSI, which resulted in the state forcing PSI to refund Indiana customers $150 million. [17] [18]

CAC engaged in similar actions against the Northern Indiana Public Service Company’s “Bailey” and American Electric Power’s “Donald C. Cook” nuclear power plant projects with similar results, preventing plant construction. [19]

Left-of-Center Economic Advocacy

In the 2000s, CAC successfully reached a settlement with the utility companies Vectren and Citizens Gas to provide “universal service” to low-income customers, preventing their services from being disconnected in case of failures to pay and lowering costs for low-income customers. [20]

In the 2010s, CAC contributed to legislation that established low-income assistance programs for customers of water utility companies, and it helped defeat Duke Energy’s request to raise energy prices for customers. [21]

Environmentalist Initiatives

In the 1990s, Citizens Action Coalition aided the Clean Manufacturing Technology Institute in passing a bill to introduce environmentalist regulations on manufacturing. In the 2000s, it helped to strike down two attempts to lift regulations from gas and electric utility companies. In the same decade, it worked with the environmentalist group Michiana Quality of Life to defeat a proposal to create a coal gasification plant in New Carlisle, Indiana. [22]

In the 2010s, CAC led another charge against coal gasification, defeating an attempt to build a coal-to-gas plant in Spencer County, Indiana. It also pursued more legal action against nuclear power plant proposals, helping to strike down Construction Work In Progress legislation which would have provided energy companies with the funds needed to build nuclear plants. [23]

CAC aided in efforts to prevent biomass power plants from being constructed in the Indiana cities of Scottsburg, Jasper, and Milltown, calling them “dirty and unwanted.” [24] Together with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), eight state governments, and 13 nonprofits, CAC forced a settlement with American Electric Power in which the electric utility agreed to shut down three coal-powered plants and create new wind and solar plants. [25]

Health Care Initiatives

In the 1980s, Citizens Action Coalition aided legislative efforts to create Indiana’s Community and Home Options to Institutional Care for the Elderly and Disabled (CHOICE) program, which allows senior citizens at risk of being placed into nursing homes to remain in their homes and receive nursing care services there instead. [26] [27] In the 2000s, CAC fought to secure $50 million in tax dollars for the CHOICE program. [28]

Farming and Animal Rights Activity

In the 1980s, CAC’s farm-related activities largely focused on aiding struggling farmers, such as participating in a legislative effort to provide financial counseling to farmers threatened with bankruptcy. By the 2000s, CAC turned to left-of-center animal rights activism: activists aided by the CAC Farm Program stopped multiple livestock facilities from being developed, claiming that they were concentrated animal feeding operations. In the 2010s, CAC worked with several other organizations to publicly audit food production facilities. [29]

Its charitable sister group, the Citizens Action Coalition Education Fund, runs a statewide anti-industrial agriculture campaign called the “Downstream Project.” [30]

“Customer Bill of Rights” Campaign

Citizens Action Coalition advocates for what it calls a “Customer Bill of Rights,” a law that would subject the election of commissioners to the state’s utility regulatory committee to a popular vote rather than appointment-by-governor. It claims that Indiana’s utility companies have state-sanctioned monopolies which allegedly detriment citizens’ quality service and increase utility bills. [31]

Leadership

Kerwin Olson is the executive director of the Citizens Action Coalition. [32]

Grant Smith, the president of CAC’s board of directors, is the senior energy policy advisor of the Environmental Working Group, a left-of-center nonprofit which works to transition from conventional energy sources to environmentalist sources and implement “more equitable, transparent electricity policies.” [33] [34] Tim Koponen is the vice president of CAC’s board and works as a management consultant in the health care industry. [35] [36]

Funding

Citizens Action Coalition created an endowment using the money won from its 1990 lawsuit against Public Service Indiana which it uses to pay its expenses. It claims to receive 25% of its income from grants, private foundations, and events. Its 501(c)(3) counterpart, the Citizens Action Coalition Education Fund, has received grants from many left-of-center, environmentalist private foundations. [37]

References

  1. “About.” About | Citizens Action Coalition. Accessed August 28, 2021. https://www.citact.org/about. ^
  2. “History of the Citizens Action Coalition.” History of the Citizens Action Coalition | Citizens Action Coalition. Accessed August 29, 2021. https://www.citact.org/about/history-citizens-action-coalition. ^
  3. “The Downstream Project.” The Downstream Project | Citizens Action Coalition. Accessed August 30, 2021. https://www.citact.org/campaign/downstream-project. ^
  4. “History of the Citizens Action Coalition.” History of the Citizens Action Coalition | Citizens Action Coalition. Accessed August 29, 2021. https://www.citact.org/about/history-citizens-action-coalition. ^
  5. “History of the Citizens Action Coalition.” History of the Citizens Action Coalition | Citizens Action Coalition. Accessed August 29, 2021. https://www.citact.org/about/history-citizens-action-coalition. PDF: https://www.citact.org/sites/default/files/12-12-17%20CAC%20Victory%20%26%20History%20Sheet.pdf. ^
  6. Casperson, Molly Patricia, “The Impact of Local Environmental Activist Organizations on State Environmental Policies.” Undergraduate Honors Thesis Collection, 2010. 69. https://digitalcommons.butler.edu/ugtheses/69. ^
  7. “Contributions.” Contributions | Citizens Action Coalition. Accessed August 30, 2021. https://www.citact.org/about/contributions. ^
  8. “Canvassing.” Canvassing | Citizens Action Coalition. Accessed August 30, 2021. https://www.citact.org/about/canvassing. ^
  9. Hartz, Michael. “RTV6 Rewind: How the Three Mile Island Meltdown Changed the Future of Nuclear Power in Indiana.” WRTV. WRTV, March 28, 2019. https://www.wrtv.com/lifestyle/history/rtv6-rewind-how-the-three-mile-island-meltdown-changed-the-future-of-nuclear-power-in-indiana. ^
  10. Rangel, Jesus. “HALF-BUILT INDIANA NUCLEAR PLANT ABANDONED AT A $2.5 BILLION COST.” The New York Times. The New York Times, January 17, 1984. https://www.nytimes.com/1984/01/17/us/half-built-indiana-nuclear-plant-abandoned-at-a-2.5-billion-cost.html. ^
  11. Rangel, Jesus. “HALF-BUILT INDIANA NUCLEAR PLANT ABANDONED AT A $2.5 BILLION COST.” The New York Times. The New York Times, January 17, 1984. https://www.nytimes.com/1984/01/17/us/half-built-indiana-nuclear-plant-abandoned-at-a-2.5-billion-cost.html. ^
  12. Foley, Kevin. “Anti-Nuclear Demonstrators Arrested in Madison, Indiana.” Lewiston Evening Journal. October 9, 1978. https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1913&dat=19781009&id=AIIpAAAAIBAJ&sjid=tWUFAAAAIBAJ&pg=3133,1137143%7Cwork=. ^
  13. Hartz, Michael. “RTV6 Rewind: How the Three Mile Island Meltdown Changed the Future of Nuclear Power in Indiana.” WRTV. WRTV, March 28, 2019. https://www.wrtv.com/lifestyle/history/rtv6-rewind-how-the-three-mile-island-meltdown-changed-the-future-of-nuclear-power-in-indiana. ^
  14. Hartz, Michael. “RTV6 Rewind: How the Three Mile Island Meltdown Changed the Future of Nuclear Power in Indiana.” WRTV. WRTV, March 28, 2019. https://www.wrtv.com/lifestyle/history/rtv6-rewind-how-the-three-mile-island-meltdown-changed-the-future-of-nuclear-power-in-indiana. ^
  15. Cassidy, Harold G. and Hauck, Fred. “WHITE PAPER XIX: OUR MARBLE HILL PROBLEM,” 32-33. Save The Valley, Inc. USNRC, July 4, 1982. https://www.nrc.gov/docs/ML2002/ML20028F034.pdf. ^
  16. “History of the Citizens Action Coalition.” History of the Citizens Action Coalition | Citizens Action Coalition. Accessed August 29, 2021. https://www.citact.org/about/history-citizens-action-coalition. ^
  17. “Citizens Action Coalition v. PSI.” 552 N.E.2d 834 (1990). Justia Law. Accessed August 29, 2021. https://law.justia.com/cases/indiana/court-of-appeals/1990/93a02-8604-ex-115-6.html. ^
  18. “History of the Citizens Action Coalition.” History of the Citizens Action Coalition | Citizens Action Coalition. Accessed August 29, 2021. https://www.citact.org/about/history-citizens-action-coalition. ^
  19. “History of the Citizens Action Coalition.” History of the Citizens Action Coalition | Citizens Action Coalition. Accessed August 29, 2021. https://www.citact.org/about/history-citizens-action-coalition. ^
  20. “History of the Citizens Action Coalition.” History of the Citizens Action Coalition | Citizens Action Coalition. Accessed August 29, 2021. https://www.citact.org/about/history-citizens-action-coalition. ^
  21. “History of the Citizens Action Coalition.” History of the Citizens Action Coalition | Citizens Action Coalition. Accessed August 29, 2021. https://www.citact.org/about/history-citizens-action-coalition. ^
  22. “History of the Citizens Action Coalition.” History of the Citizens Action Coalition | Citizens Action Coalition. Accessed August 29, 2021. https://www.citact.org/about/history-citizens-action-coalition. ^
  23. “History of the Citizens Action Coalition.” History of the Citizens Action Coalition | Citizens Action Coalition. Accessed August 29, 2021. https://www.citact.org/about/history-citizens-action-coalition. ^
  24. “History of the Citizens Action Coalition.” History of the Citizens Action Coalition | Citizens Action Coalition. Accessed August 29, 2021. https://www.citact.org/about/history-citizens-action-coalition. ^
  25. “History of the Citizens Action Coalition.” History of the Citizens Action Coalition | Citizens Action Coalition. Accessed August 29, 2021. https://www.citact.org/about/history-citizens-action-coalition. ^
  26. “History of the Citizens Action Coalition.” History of the Citizens Action Coalition | Citizens Action Coalition. Accessed August 29, 2021. https://www.citact.org/about/history-citizens-action-coalition. ^
  27. “Indiana Choice Program: Eligibility and Benefits.” Payment Options & Financial Assistance for Senior Care. PayingforSeniorCare.com, September 27, 2020. https://www.payingforseniorcare.com/indiana/choice. ^
  28. “History of the Citizens Action Coalition.” History of the Citizens Action Coalition | Citizens Action Coalition. Accessed August 29, 2021. https://www.citact.org/about/history-citizens-action-coalition. ^
  29. “History of the Citizens Action Coalition.” History of the Citizens Action Coalition | Citizens Action Coalition. Accessed August 29, 2021. https://www.citact.org/about/history-citizens-action-coalition. ^
  30. “The Downstream Project.” The Downstream Project | Citizens Action Coalition. Accessed August 30, 2021. https://www.citact.org/campaign/downstream-project. ^
  31. “Hoosiers NEED A Customer Bill Of Rights.” Citizens Action Coalition. Accessed August 30, 2021. https://www.citact.org/energy-policy-utility-rates-and-regulation-indiana-general-assembly/campaign/game-rigged-we-need-customer-bill-rights. ^
  32. “Staff.” Staff | Citizens Action Coalition. Accessed August 30, 2021. https://www.citact.org/about/staff. ^
  33. “Board Members.” Board Members | Citizens Action Coalition. Accessed August 30, 2021. https://www.citact.org/about/board-members. ^
  34. “Grant Smith.” Environmental Working Group. Accessed August 30, 2021. https://www.ewg.org/news-insights/our-experts/grant-smith. ^
  35. “Staff.” Staff | Citizens Action Coalition. Accessed August 30, 2021. https://www.citact.org/about/staff. ^
  36. “Timothy Koponen.” Linkedin. Accessed August 30, 2021. https://www.linkedin.com/in/timothy-koponen-aa41467. ^
  37. “FAQ.” FAQ | Citizens Action Coalition. Accessed August 30, 2021. https://www.citact.org/about/faq. ^
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: June 1, 1976

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2019 Dec Form 990 $699,447 $718,037 $69,154 $66,442 N $698,841 $0 $3 $81,322 PDF
    2018 Dec Form 990 $920,196 $879,590 $71,273 $49,970 N $776,297 $143,899 $0 $85,959 PDF
    2017 Dec Form 990 $888,820 $875,690 $43,434 $50,184 N $774,567 $114,253 $0 $73,236 PDF
    2016 Dec Form 990 $795,926 $783,528 $37,854 $57,734 N $538,498 $257,425 $3 $114,817 PDF
    2015 Dec Form 990 $841,645 $799,764 $44,263 $76,541 N $646,357 $195,286 $2 $67,785 PDF
    2014 Dec Form 990 $861,219 $865,189 $13,834 $88,083 N $643,967 $217,250 $2 $84,716 PDF
    2013 Dec Form 990 $941,890 $911,037 $12,937 $83,216 N $683,281 $258,608 $1 $0 PDF
    2012 Dec Form 990 $880,404 $902,159 $10,727 $111,859 N $737,159 $143,243 $2 $90,913 PDF
    2011 Dec Form 990 $1,063,760 $1,032,696 $17,104 $96,482 N $860,158 $203,594 $8 $104,781 PDF
    2010 Dec Form 990 $1,292,506 $1,314,853 $26,108 $136,549 N $1,075,749 $216,736 $21 $124,059 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Citizens Action Coalition

    1915 W 18TH ST STE C
    INDIANAPOLIS, IN 46202-1002