The founders of Rewiring America, an environmental advocacy dark money group behind the push to regulate and ban natural gas-powered stoves, have a significant financial stake in the green energy push.
Alex Laskey, Saul Griffith and Ari Matusiak – who together founded Rewiring America in 2020 – have all pursued various wind, solar, electrification and energy efficiency ventures, some of which have netted them millions of dollars in buyouts or received significant federal funding. The three co-founders have simultaneously advocated for policies benefiting those ventures through the nonprofit.
'It's a shocking amount of money that they're hauling in with this scheme of theirs,' Tom Pyle, the president of the Institute for Energy Research, told Fox News Digital in an interview. 'I call it Big Green Inc. It is literally a business for these guys and they cloak themselves in the mantra of trying to save the planet. But, really, this is just very sophisticated self-dealing.'
'Congress needs to be an aggressive watchdog precisely because of organizations like Rewiring America.'
A spokesperson for Rewiring America pushed back on the notion that it was a conflict of interest for its co-founders and leaders to be involved in for-profit green energy companies.
'There is no conflict between founding a nonprofit – one that promotes cutting energy costs for families, improving indoor air quality, and lowering emissions – and working with for-profit businesses that do the same. That’s called mission alignment,' the spokesperson told Fox News Digital.
Although Rewiring America has an increasingly more prominent role guiding policies at the state and federal level – it notably had a presence at a Dec. 14 electrification summit and at an event celebrating the Inflation Reduction Act, both at the White House – the group's donors are shielded from public view. The group doesn't file federal tax forms since it is sponsored by the Windward Fund, a nonprofit that is part of the billion-dollar dark money network managed by the Washington, D.C.-based Arabella Advisors.
The only public contribution to Rewiring America is a 2020 grant worth $300,000 from the left-wing nonprofit Rockefeller Brothers Fund.
Among its key objectives, Rewiring America has maintained that Americans must broadly electrify their homes in an effort to combat climate change and has advocated for massive-spending climate programs that rival those introduced during the Great Depression and World War II. Activists have long argued in favor of electrification to reduce consumer dependence on natural gas and to ensure power across sectors is supplied by renewable sources like wind and solar.
The group was at the center of a recent move to restrict gas stove usage. Rewiring America research associate Talor Gruenwald was listed as the lead author on a study published in December linking childhood asthma to gas stoves. The study was promoted by Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm and used to justify greater restrictions on the appliance.
'Just to talk quickly about the benefits of electrification – from our count, 42% of all emissions come from decisions that are made at kitchen tables. That is the cars we drive as well as how we heat our homes, heat the water in our homes, cook our food and dry our clothing,' Laskey, who in addition to co-founding Rewiring America serves as its executive chairman, said during the White House electrification event in December.
'The benefits are tremendous here,' he continued. 'The reality is that, with clean electric machines, we don't need to sacrifice. These machines are better, they're better performing, they're less expensive and more reliable to own, and they will improve the quality of people's lives.'
While Laskey was introduced at the White House event as the chair of Rewiring America, he is also involved in several green ventures and has made millions of dollars of the sale of another.
In 2018, he joined the board of Arcadia Power, an online utility company that aims to increase access to green energy. The company, which has received millions of dollars in seed funding, says its mission is to 'stop climate change by breaking the fossil fuel monopoly.'
Laskey was also listed in 2021 as an investor in green energy workforce training firm Greenwork. And he is identified as a strategic adviser for Voltus, a company that markets itself as 'a leading provider of cash-generating energy products.'
Opower, an energy efficiency firm Laskey co-founded in 2007, was sold for $532 million to Oracle in 2016, the Washington Business Journal reported at the time. Laskey earned about $65.7 million from the sale.
'We're going to have to aggregate demand. There's a lot that's been done nationally, but this is ultimately also a local problem because there's local building code, permitting,' Laskey said at the December event. 'We have government-owned housing, we have weatherization programs. These need to become electrification programs as well, as well as military housing, to aggregate demand.'
Meanwhile, Griffith, who is Rewiring America's chief scientist, is the founder and chief scientist of green energy research firm Otherlab. The firm has raised at least $100 million in funding from investors, The Washington Post reported in 2021, and has received millions of dollars more in federal funding.
For example, an energy efficiency project Otherlab was involved in received $5.4 million in federal funding, an Otherlab solar project received $4.3 million and a wind turbine project received another $2.9 million.
Otherlab's energy efficiency project Stow Energy has spun off into a company and lists Griffith as its sole board member and 'energy guru.' The company works to electrify the residential sector.
Griffith also founded and remains on the board of directors for Sunfolding, a solar energy company that received $32 million in additional funding in 2019. And Makani Power, a wind energy company Griffith founded in 2006, was purchased by Google in 2013 for an undisclosed amount.
Like Laskey, Griffith has advocated for policies which would seemingly benefit his business ventures through Rewiring America.
'Rewiring America is a new non-profit I founded with Alex Laskey, a clean energy entrepreneur, to help mobilize America to address climate change and jump-start the economy by electrifying everything,' Griffith wrote in a blog post in 2020.
'We have to rewrite the federal, state, and local rules and regulations that were created for the fossil-fueled world and are preventing the U.S. from having the cheapest electricity ever,' he added. 'Then, we have to finance our transition to a zero-carbon energy system with a low-interest ‘climate loan.''
Matusiak, the CEO of Rewiring America, is a co-founder and managing partner of Purpose Venture Group, a climate-focused consulting firm. The firm mainly advises and guides nonprofits that are focused on environmental and climate change issues.
According to its website, Purpose Venture Group 'incubated Rewiring America into the leading voice and a national authority on electrification, with over $20mm in funding commitments to date' and provided consulting work for Arcadia Power, the company Laskey serves on the board of.
The firm has also provided consulting services for solar company Posigen and energy efficiency company Dvele which recently announced it had received $15 million in seed funding. Matusiak serves as an advisor for Dvele.
'Dvele is leveraging its expertise and platform to produce hyper-efficient, self-powered, healthy homes that are leading society’s energy transition to decentralized power generation and storage capabilities,' the company states on its website.
'The full electrification of Dvele homes has energy efficiency advantages but also contributes to the increased health and safety of the homes,' it adds. 'Without natural gas combustion in a home, there is no risk of carbon monoxide inside a Dvele home. In addition, having an induction cooktop versus a gas stove helps reduce harmful ultrafine particulates and gasses.'