New York Guides Wind Industry on Ethics

New York Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo recently announced a new Wind Industry Ethics Code that establishes guidelines to facilitate the development of alternative energy in New York while assuring the public that the wind power industry is acting properly and within the law.

The Code calls for new oversight through a multi-agency Task Force, and establishes unprecedented transparency that will deter any improper relationships between wind development companies and local government officials.

The first companies to sign the Code are Essex, Conn.-based Noble Environmental Power, LLC, and Newton, Mass.-based First Wind (formerly known as UPC Wind). Both companies currently operate wind farms in New York and have several others in development.

"Wind power is an exciting industry for the state that will be a cornerstone of our energy future. But it is important to make sure that this alternative energy sector develops in a way that maintains the public's confidence, and that is what this new Code of Conduct does," said Attorney General Cuomo. "I commend Noble and First Wind for taking the lead by adopting this Code, and we fully expect other companies that want to develop wind farms in New York to follow suit."

The Wind Industry Ethics Code is a result of the Attorney General's 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. Both Noble and First Wind fully cooperated in the inquiry and their assistance was instrumental in developing the Code of Conduct.

The Code prohibits conflicts of interest between municipal officials and wind companies and establishes vast new public disclosure requirements.

The New York State Energy Research Development Authority 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 alternative energy industry could add 43,000 jobs in New York by 2013.

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