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ATTORNEY GENERAL CUOMO ANNOUNCES NEW ETHICS CODE ADOPTED BY WIND INDUSTRY COMPANIES ACROSS NY
Attorney General Cuomo's Wind Industry Ethics Code Increases Transparency While Deterring Improper Dealing Between the Industry and Local Government Officials
Vast Majority of Industry Adopts Code; Investigation into Allegations of Misconduct Continues with Subpoena to Reunion Power
ALBANY, N.Y. (July 29, 2009) - Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that 16 companies representing the vast majority of wind energy activity in New York state (more than 90 percent) have signed his Wind Industry Ethics Code, facilitating the development of renewable energy while helping assure that the industry is acting properly and within the law. The Code calls for oversight through an advisory Task Force and unprecedented transparency that will deter improper relationships between wind development companies and local government officials.
Fourteen companies have now joined the two that signed late last year to make a total of 16 wind industry leaders agreeing to Attorney General Cuomo’s Ethics Code. According to the Alliance for Clean Energy (ACE), these companies, along with their subsidiaries, are responsible for more than 90 percent of the wind farm development (past, present or future projects) in New York State.
The Attorney General also announced that as part of its ongoing investigation into allegations of improper dealings, his office issued a subpoena to Reunion Power, which has potential wind farm development in Otsego, Schoharie and Warren Counties, and has not agreed to sign the Code.
“New York must be equally committed to clean energy and clean government. The companies that have signed our Wind Industry Ethics Code are echoing that commitment - and I commend them for that,” said Attorney General Cuomo. “Wind power has enormous environmental and economic potential for New York and it is critical that this industry continues to grow without the suspicion or shadow of public corruption or anything else outside the law.”
The new companies to sign on to the Code are: Acciona Wind Energy USA, LLC, BP Wind Energy North America, Inc., Ecogen Wind, LLC, E.on Climate and Renewables North America, Inc., Everpower Wind Holdings, Inc., Horizon Wind Energy, LLC, Iberdrola Renewables, Inc., Invenergy Wind Development, LLC, Northwind & Power, LLC, Pattern Energy Group Holdings, Penn Energy Trust, LLC, Sustainable Energy Trust, Inc., Upstate NY Power Corp. and Shell WindEnergy, Inc.
The Code was signed previously by Newton, Massachusetts-based First Wind (formerly known as UPC Wind) and Essex, Connecticut-based Noble Environmental Power, LLC. Both companies currently operate several wind farms in New York and have others in development.
The Wind Industry Ethics Code is a direct result of the Attorney General’s ongoing investigation into, among other things, whether companies developing wind farms improperly sought land-use agreements with citizens and public officials, and whether improper benefits were given to public officials to influence their official actions relating to wind farm development.
The Attorney General’s Wind Industry Ethics Code prohibits conflicts of interest between municipal officials and wind companies and establishes public disclosure requirements. The Code:
- Bans wind companies from hiring municipal employees or their relatives, giving gifts of more than $10 during a one-year period, or providing any other form of compensation that is contingent on any action before a municipal agency
- Prevents wind companies from soliciting, using, or knowingly receiving confidential information acquired by a municipal officer in the course of his or her official duties
- Requires wind companies to establish and maintain a public Web site to disclose the names of all municipal officers or their relatives who have a financial stake in wind farm development
- Requires wind companies to submit in writing to the municipal clerk for public inspection, and to publish in the local newspaper, the nature and scope of the municipal officer’s financial interest
- Mandates that all wind easements and leases be in writing and filed with the County Clerk
- Dictates that within sixty days of signing the Wind Industry Ethics Code, companies must conduct a seminar for employees about identifying and preventing conflicts of interest when working with municipal employees
The Attorney General’s Task Force monitors the wind companies to ensure they are in compliance with the Ethics Code and receives complaints regarding the industry. Members of the Task Force include, among others, Franklin County District Attorney Derek P. Champagne, Monroe County District Attorney Michael C. Green, Wyoming County District Attorney Gerald Stout, Executive Director Stephen J. Acquario of The New York State Association of Counties, and Executive Director G. Jeffrey Haber of The Association of Towns of the State of New York.
The New York State Energy Research Development Authority (NYSERDA) estimates that wind power has the potential to provide 20 percent of the state’s electricity demand and a 2005 report by the state Comptroller’s Office estimates the industry could add 43,000 jobs in New York by 2013.
Franklin County District Attorney Derek P. Champagne said, “More than a dozen companies committed to the smart and transparent growth of the renewable energy industry have now agreed to the Attorney General’s Wind Energy Code of Conduct. The public will now be able to easily review and identify potential conflicts of interest between their government officials and wind power companies. Attorney General Cuomo is delivering real results on this issue and I look forward to my continued service on his Wind Energy Task Force.”
Wyoming County District Attorney Gerald Stout said, “The Attorney General’s Code of Conduct is a successful and business friendly way to ensure this growing industry realizes its tremendous economic and environmental potential. I applaud the companies that have already signed on, and I strongly encourage other wind energy companies doing business in New York to demonstrate their commitment to openness and transparency by following suit.”
Monroe County District Attorney Michael C. Green said, “It is imperative for the public to know that the business of wind energy is free from conflict and corruption, and that is exactly what Attorney General Cuomo’s Code of Conduct helps ensure. Wind energy will play a vital role in our state’s energy future and companies that sign the Code are signaling their willingness to conduct business in an open and transparent way.”
New York State Association of Counties executive director Stephen J. Acquario said, “County governments are on the front lines of helping to balance essential renewable energy growth through the installation of wind farms and policing possible conflicts of interests between wind power companies and public officials. Attorney General Cuomo’s Ethics Code helps the clean energy industry sustain honest growth and continue to contribute to the goal of energy independence and job creation.”
Association of Towns of the State of New York Executive Director G. Jeffrey Haber said, “The Wind Energy Code of Conduct drafted by Attorney General Cuomo and agreed to by major wind energy companies will provide guidance for growth of wind energy facilities without conflicts of interest.”
The Attorney General thanked the Task Force members for their continued assistance and guidance.
Gabriel Alonso, Chief Executive Officer of Horizon Wind Energy said, “On behalf of Horizon and the communities across the United States that are our partners in wind energy development, we are very proud to be part of the initiative announced today by the Attorney General of New York to promote transparent and ethical conduct in the wind power industry in the State of New York. We look forward to working with the newly created Task Force and the Attorney General in order to capture the full potential of wind power for all New Yorkers.”
Mike Garland, Chief Executive Officer of Pattern Energy, said, “Pattern Energy is very excited about our New York wind projects in active development and we are pleased that a Code of Conduct with the Attorney General’s office is now in place. This code allows communities to have confidence that the wind project approval process is transparent, which in turn helps New York State reach renewable energy goals and receive the economic and environmental benefits from the development of renewable energy.”
The matter is being handled by Executive Deputy Attorney General for Criminal Justice Robin L. Baker, Special Deputy Attorney General Ellen Nachtigall Biben, who oversees the Attorney General’s Public Integrity Bureau, and Assistant Attorney General Andrew Heffner.