Energy Foundation



Tax ID:


Tax-Exempt Status:


Budget (2016):

Revenue: $118,850,769
Expenses: $113,626,170
Assets: $77,090,174



Executive Director:

Amy Fuerstenau

Chief Executive Officer:

Eric Heitz

Chief Executive Officer Compensation:

$442,448 (2015)

The Energy Foundation is a left-of-center “pass through” charitable foundation founded by and supported by a network of left-wing organizations. The Foundation began in January 1991 as a $20 million collaborative between the Pew Charitable Trusts, Rockefeller Foundations, and John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and has subsequently grown in partnerships and funding.[1] The Energy Foundation describes itself as a nonpartisan “grantmaker,” with a focus on building a “new energy economy.”[2] In reality, it is a medium for bundling vast sums of money from donors to far-left political causes, under the guise of philanthropy.

The Energy Foundation was involved in the funding scandal in 2015 which led to the resignation of Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber (D).


The Energy Foundation was conceived as early as 1989, according to Adele Simmons, the former president of the MacArthur Foundation. It was established to be a “pass through” nonprofit, emphasizing strategic grants to groups able to influence energy regulatory policy. According to the group’s “strategic assumptions,” “intelligent philanthropy can influence energy policy with multi-billion dollar payoffs.”[3]

The Energy Foundation was founded by Hal Harvey in 1991, who served as the organization’s president until 2002. Harvey has a history of left-wing environmental activism. In his announcement of the creation of the Energy Foundation, he referenced the recent First Gulf War: “At a time of grave danger and volatility in the Middle East, it is worrisome that the United States is increasing its dependence on foreign oil, especially so because there are other proven alternatives.”[4]

Harvey also worked as founder and CEO of ClimateWorks Foundation from 2008-2011, and served as Environment Program Director at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation – both significant financial supporters of the Energy Foundation.[5]

In 1999, the Packard Foundation helped to establish Energy Foundation China, with offices in Beijing.[6]

Leadership Structure

Board of Directors

The Energy Foundation’s Board of Directors and staff are well-connected in left-wing philanthropy and activism, illustrating the interlocking interests of the environmentalist and progressive movements.

Bill Ritter, Jr. is the Foundation’s board chair. Ritter served as the Governor of Colorado from 2007-2011. A Democrat, he touts his environmentalist and liberal record. Ritter is currently the Director of the Center for the New Energy Economy in Fort Collins, CO.[7]

Mark Burget is the executive vice president and North American regional director of The Nature Conservancy. From 2008-2011, he served as ClimateWorks Foundation chief operating officer and president, alongside Hal Harvey.[8]

William D. Ruckelshaus is the former administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to the Ronald Reagan administration, a position he held from 1983-1985.[9]

Khee Poh Lam is a member of the Energy Foundation China and ClimateWorks Foundation Network boards.[10]

Former board members include Noa Staryk, a past McKnight Foundation board member.


Co-founder and CEO Eric Heitz began his career in the field installing solar systems, moving on to work as a consultant on related technologies for government agencies.[11] Heitz’s total compensation in 2015 was $442,448.[12]

Senior Manager of Strategic Communications Eric Jaffe and Senior Vice President of U.S. Programs Jason Mark are among those Energy Foundation employees with more political backgrounds.  Jaffe has worked for Democratic politicians and with Resource Media, a liberal communications company.[13]  Mark spent over a decade with the Union of Concerned Scientists,[14] which was involved with the push for the Kyoto Protocol in the 1990s and touts its role in creating the anti-science narrative around President George W. Bush.[15]


Doug Larson is a consultant to the Energy Foundation. Larson is the former executive director of the Western Interstate Energy Board.[16]

Funding and Activities

Since its inception, the Foundation has attempted to influence public energy policy through ostensibly philanthropic grants to environmentalist groups. To this end, the Energy Foundation conducts a sizable amount of direct activity, such as organizing workshops and research projects to support its agenda.[17]

As a bundler nonprofit, the Energy Foundation benefits from provisions in the IRS 501(c)(3) charitable organization status enabling it to mask the flow of donations from private interest groups that wish to hide their support for partisan causes. Funding to the Energy Foundation can then ‘pass through’ to 501(c)(4) social welfare organizations, which are permitted to engage in overtly political activity.

A significant part of the Energy Foundation’s funding comes from wealthy nonprofits, including the David and Lucille Packard Foundation, ClimateWorks Foundation, McKnight Foundation, Schmidt Family Foundation, and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.[18] These groups remain deeply connected, and many share a number of board members and officers in common.

Sea Change Foundation, a private environmentalist group largely funded by hedge fund companies, venture capital firms, and offshore private holdings, is a top donor to the Energy Foundation. Sea Change has donated tens of millions of dollars to the Foundation since its creation.[19]

TomKat Charitable Trust, the personal philanthropy of liberal mega-donor hedge-fund billionaire Tom Steyer and his wife, is a former donor to the Energy Foundation from 2009 to 2013. It contributed $200,000 to the Foundation in 2012.[20] On its website, the Energy Foundation downplays TomKat’s contributions; however, documents show the Foundation received $3 million from Steyer’s group.[21]

Grantmaking Activities

A 2014 report from the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works identified the Energy Foundation as the “quintessential example of a pass through” organization.[22] From 2010 to 2012, according to the Senate report, the Foundation received approximately $203,346,390 from these groups. During this time, the Energy Foundation funneled $5,676,000 to the Green Tech Action Fund (GTAF), the Foundation’s politically active 501(c)(4), and an additional $3,758,510 from 2013 to 2015.[23]

The GTAF has, in turn, provided substantial funding to various environmentalist and progressive activist organizations, including the League of Conservation Voters, the Sierra Club, and the BlueGreen Alliance. These organizations then financially support the campaigns of Democratic candidates for public office.

While the Energy Foundation and GTAF are listed as separate organizations, they share the same office address in San Francisco, CA, and in annual reports list many of the same staff.[24][25]

The Energy Foundation claims to be “nonpartisan” and asserts that it doesn’t “have a financial stake” in the “clean energy markets” they promote. However, the Foundation lists among its grant recipients various radical organizations, many of which are not are not primarily environmentalist groups:

The Energy Foundation is purportedly a member of the Environmental Grantmakers Association.[26] In addition, the group maintains ties to other agitator organizations, including the US Climate Action Network and the Union of Concerned Scientists.[27]

Key Activities

The Energy Foundation’s lists its key interests as the following:[28]

  • Buildings
  • Power
  • Transportation
  • Climate
  • Public Engagement

The Energy Foundation claims a substantial part of its financial grants contribute to overhauling buildings. As a bundler nonprofit, however, its most substantive grants fund political activism – or what the Public Engagement program calls “the development and dissemination of effective national narratives.”[29] Despite the tight restrictions on political activity placed on 501(c)(3) nonprofits, the Foundation is in reality only loosely separated from actual policy influence and advocacy.

In 2015, the Energy Foundation funded a study by Doug Meade, an economist at the University of Maryland, and Jason Price of Industrial Economics, a private consultancy. The study was intended to boost political support for the controversial Clean Power Plan released by the Obama administration’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in August 2015 by touting job growth.[30] The Foundation is a vocal proponent of the Clean Power Plan, which would mandate a drastic 32 percent reduction in airborne carbon dioxide relative to 2005 levels by 2030.[31] The EPA plan was stopped short of implementation in February 2016 by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Former EPA administrator and Energy Foundation board member William D. Ruckelshaus co-authored a September 25, 2016 op-ed in favor of the EPA plan, criticizing American power plants as the “principal culprit behind the alarming warming of our planet.”[32] Ruckelshaus also filed an amicus curiae brief supporting the EPA plan.[33]

In December 2013, the Alabama Coal Association (ACA) accused several organizations of promoting a “war on coal.” The ACA cited roughly $3 million in grants given to anti-coal groups by the Energy Foundation, including the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. Federal filings show that the grant intent was “the accelerated retirement of conventional coal-fired plants.”[34]

Bill Ritter, Jr., a former Colorado Governor, current Energy Foundation board member, and member of the Democratic Party authored a March 29, 2017 op-ed in The Conversation supporting the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, as well as the Paris Climate Treaty. “One in 50 new jobs in America is now in solar energy,” Ritter claims, while attempts “to roll back important environmental safeguards are being sold to the American people under the rubric of job creation.”[35]

The Energy Foundation has appeared close to Democratic politicians. In May 2017 California Governor Jerry Brown (D) announced a trip to China to “build foreign support carbon-cutting efforts,” according to an ABC News story. Brown and his staff were accompanied by members of the California Energy Commission and the California Air Resources Board, whose travel expenses were paid for by the Energy Foundation.[36]

Kitzhaber Scandal

On February 13, 2015 Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber (D) announced his resignation from public office following revelations that his fiancée, Cylvia Hayes, collected over $250,000 in fellowship and consulting fees from environmentalist groups to promote favorable policies, including low-carbon fuel standard legislation.

Hayes received $50,000 from the Energy Foundation in 2013 for “communications work.” She failed to disclose pertinent ethics filings to the governor’s office, and filed significantly lower sums on her 2011-2012 tax returns.[37]

Energy Foundation, which collected donations from Tom Steyer’s TomKat Charitable Trust from 2009-2013, was accused of funneling TomKat’s funds to Hayes, which Steyer’s attorney denied, claiming the funds were “explicitly restricted so they could not be used for lobbying, legislative or electoral purposes.”[38] The Energy Foundation also denies that Steyer indirectly funded Hayes, yet notes – in contradiction to Steyer’s attorney – that while the “TomKat Charitable Trust did not earmark its donations to any specific Energy Foundation Project” the “Trust had no input on the Energy Foundation’s grant decisions.”[39]

The Energy Foundation admitted funding the Clean Economy Development Center (CEDC) $50,000 in 2011 and $25,000 in 2012 for a fellowship program in which Hayes was the only participant. This is during the period in which TomKat was a donor to the Energy Foundation. The CEDC has had its nonprofit status revoked by the IRS, and has since ceased to function.[40]


  1. “Energy Foundation.” Activist Facts. Accessed March 6, 2017. ^
  2. “About Us.” Energy Foundation. Accessed March 6, 2017. ^
  3. Kohler, Scott. “The Energy Foundation.” Duke University. Accessed May 31, 2017. ^
  4. Teltsch, Kathleen. “In Rare Move, Big Donors Push Energy Efficiency.” The New York Times, January 11, 1991. Accessed June 1, 2017. ^
  5. “Hal Harvey, CEO.” Energy Foundation. Accessed May 31, 2017. ^
  6. “About Us: Introduction.” Energy Foundation China. Accessed May 31, 2017. ^
  7. “Bill Ritter, Board Chair.” Energy Foundation. Accessed June 1, 2017. ^
  8. “Executive Team Members.” The Nature Conservancy. Accessed June 01, 2017. ^
  9. “William Ruckelshaus.” Energy Foundation. Accessed May 31, 2017. ^
  10. “Khee Poh Lam.” Energy Foundation China. Accessed May 31, 2017. ^
  11. “Staff Members: Eric Heitz.” Energy Foundation. Accessed March 6, 2017. ^
  12. “The Energy Foundation.” ProPublica Nonprofit Explorer. Accessed March 6, 2017. ^
  13. “Staff Members: Eric Jaffe.” Energy Foundation. Accessed March 6, 2017. ^
  14. “Staff Members: Jason Mark.” Energy Foundation. Accessed March 6, 2017. ^
  15. “Timeline: UCS Accomplishments in the 1990s.” Union of Concerned Scientists. Accessed March 6, 2017. and “Timeline: UCS Accomplishments in the 2000s.” Union of Concerned Scientists. Accessed March 6, 2017. ^
  16. Roth, Sammy. “Jerry Brown and Warren Buffett want to rewire the West.” Desert Sun. February 02, 2017. Accessed June 01, 2017. ^
  17. “The Energy Foundation: Our Mission.” Internet Archive WayBackMachine. Captured November 3, 1996. Accessed March 6, 2017. ^
  18. “Energy Foundation (EF).” Accessed 3/6/17. ^
  19. “The Center for Responsive Politics.” Accessed May 31, 2017. ^
  20. Howell, Kellan. “FLASHBACK: Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber, fiancee provide new green energy scandal for Democrats.” The Washington Times. February 12, 2015. Accessed June 01, 2017. ^
  21. “Tomkat Charitable Trust: Grants for Climate & Energy.” Inside Philanthropy. Accessed June 01, 2017. ^
  22. Minority Staff Report. U.S. Committee on Environment and Public Works. The Chain of Command: How a Club of Billionaires and Their Foundations Control the Environmental Movement and Obama’s EPA. United States Senate Cong. Rept. Accessed May 31, 2017. ^
  23. “Grants (Search – Green Tech Action Fund).” Energy Foundation. Accessed May 31, 2017. ^
  24. United States. Internal Revenue Service. “Green Tech Action Fund: Form 990.” Accessed May 31, 2017. ^
  25. “The Energy Foundation.” ProPublica Nonprofit Explorer. Accessed March 6, 2017. ^
  26. Minority Staff Report. U.S. Committee on Environment and Public Works. The Chain of Command: How a Club of Billionaires and Their Foundations Control the Environmental Movement and Obama’s EPA. United States Senate Cong. Rept. Accessed May 31, 2017. ^
  27. “The Energy Foundation.” LeftExposed. Accessed March 6, 2017. ^
  28. “Programs.” Energy Foundation. Accessed March 6, 2017. ^
  29. “Energy Foundation (EF).” Accessed 3/6/17. ^
  30. Silverstein, Ken. “As Coal Jobs Go Up In Flames, New Energy Positions Will Emerge From Ashes.” Forbes. April 27, 2015. Accessed June 01, 2017. ^
  31. Conca, James. “Only One Loser In Obama’s Clean Power Plan.” Forbes. August 05, 2015. Accessed June 01, 2017. ^
  32. William. “Why Obama Is Right on Clean Energy.” The New York Times. September 25, 2016. Accessed June 01, 2017. ^
  34. Mike Cason. “Alabama Coal Association cites grants as evidence that groups waged ‘war on coal’ at Public Service Commission.” December 10, 2013. Accessed May 14, 2017. ^
  35. Ritter, Bill, Jr. “Why states are pushing ahead with clean energy despite Trump’s embrace of coal.” The Conversation. March 29, 2017. Accessed June 1, 2017. ^
  36. Cooper, Jonathon J. “California governor looks abroad for climate changes allies.” ABC News. Accessed June 01, 2017. ^
  37. Oregonian/OregonLive, Laura Gunderson | The. “Cylvia Hayes discloses another $118,000 for consulting fees.” January 28, 2015. Accessed June 01, 2017. ^
  38. Howell, Kellan. “FLASHBACK: Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber, fiancee provide new green energy scandal for Democrats.” The Washington Times. February 12, 2015. Accessed June 01, 2017. ^
  39. “Setting the Record Straight on Kitzhaber Media Coverage.” Energy Foundation. Accessed June 1, 2017. ^
  40. Howell, Kellan. “FLASHBACK: Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber, fiancee provide new green energy scandal for Democrats.” The Washington Times. February 12, 2015. Accessed June 01, 2017. ^

Directors, Employees & Supporters

  1. Hal Harvey
    Former CEO and Founder
  2. Susan Tierney
    Board Member
  3. Charlotte Pera
    Former Director of U.S. Programs
  4. John Holdren
    Informal Advisor, Grant Recipient

Donation Recipients

  1. 1Sky (Non-profit)
  2. 20/20 Vision Education Fund (Non-profit)
  3. American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (Non-profit)
  4. Appliance Standard Awareness Project (ASAP) (Non-profit)
  5. BlueGreen Alliance (Non-profit)
  6. Center for American Progress (CAP) (Non-profit)
  7. Center for Climate Change Communication (4C) (Non-profit)
  8. Center for Public Interest Research (Non-profit)
  9. Center on Wisconsin Strategy (Non-profit)
  10. Citizens Climate Education Corporation (Non-profit)
  11. ClimateWorks Foundation (Non-profit)
  12. Consumer Federation of America (Non-profit)
  13. Economic Policy Institute (EPI) (Non-profit)
  14. Environment America Research and Policy Center (Non-profit)
  15. Environmental Advocates of New York (Non-profit)
  16. Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) (Non-profit)
  17. Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) (Non-profit)
  18. Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN) (Non-profit)
  19. Kentucky Coalition (Non-profit)
  20. League of Conservation Voters Education Fund (LCVEF) (Non-profit)
  21. Media Matters for America (Non-profit)
  22. Michigan League for Public Policy (Non-profit)
  23. Mountain Association for Community Economic Development (Non-profit)
  24. National Consumer Law Center (Non-profit)
  25. National Public Radio (NPR) (Non-profit)
  26. Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) (Non-profit)
  27. Niskanen Center (Non-profit)
  28. North Carolina Justice Center (Non-profit)
  29. Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) Action Fund (Non-profit)
  30. Ohio Environmental Council (OEC) (Non-profit)
  31. PACENation (Non-profit)
  32. PennFuture (Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future) (Non-profit)
  33. Public Advocates (Non-profit)
  34. R Street Institute (Non-profit)
  35. Resources Legacy Fund (Non-profit)
  36. SCOPE (Non-profit)
  37. Sierra Club Foundation (Non-profit)
  38. Small Business Majority (Non-profit)
  39. Southern Environmental Law Center (Non-profit)
  40. State Innovation Exchange (SIX) (Non-profit)
  41. Sustainable Markets Foundation (Non-profit)
  42. Taxpayers for Common Sense (Non-profit)
  43. U.S. Public Interest Research Group (US-PIRG) Education Fund (Non-profit)
  44. U.S. Public Interest Research Group (US-PIRG) (Non-profit)
  45. Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) (Non-profit)
  46. U.S. Climate Action Network (US-CAN) (Non-profit)
  47. Waterkeeper Alliance (Non-profit)
  48. Western Conservation Foundation (Non-profit)
  49. Western Environmental Law Center (Non-profit)
  50. Western Organization of Resource Councils Education Project (Non-profit)
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: March 1, 1991

  • 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
    2016 Dec Form 990 $118,850,769 $113,626,170 $77,090,174 $11,059,572 N $118,681,019 $0 $154,171 $1,678,867
    2015 Dec Form 990 $122,095,860 $109,520,043 $69,727,023 $9,081,865 N $122,033,734 $1 $62,126 $1,464,978 PDF
    2014 Dec Form 990 $103,949,104 $106,770,208 $57,076,989 $9,007,648 N $103,924,347 $0 $24,757 $1,641,669 PDF
    2013 Dec Form 990 $135,192,759 $109,392,182 $58,693,095 $7,802,650 N $135,161,673 $0 $31,086 $1,824,191 PDF
    2012 Dec Form 990 $103,161,821 $104,339,383 $32,212,733 $7,122,865 N $103,120,425 $0 $41,396 $2,093,999 PDF
    2011 Dec Form 990 $96,754,889 $103,350,036 $31,915,680 $5,648,250 N $96,480,421 $0 $27,923 $1,439,247 PDF
    2010 Dec Form 990 $101,979,959 $126,739,538 $40,182,978 $7,320,401 N $101,076,051 $0 $28,358 $1,247,019 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Energy Foundation

    SAN FRANCISCO, CA 94111-3237