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Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo has announced a new Wind Industry Ethics Code that establishes guidelines to facilitate the development of alternative energy in New York while assuring the public 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 ethics code are Essex, Conn.-based Noble Environmental Power LLC and Newton, Mass.-based First 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," says Cuomo. "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."

The Wind Industry Ethics Code is a result of Cuomo'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 that is being announced today.

The ethics code prohibits conflicts of interest between municipal officials and wind companies and establishes vast new public disclosure requirements. It includes the following provisions:

- 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 officials 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, and

- dictates that within 30 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.

SOURCE: Office of Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo


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