The office of the attorney general of the state of New York announced yesterday that a total of 16 … wait, make that 17 wind power companies have signed onto the state’s new “Wind Industry Ethics Code.” The news release indicates that the main point of the industry “ethics code” is to prohibit conflicts of interest between municipal officials and wind companies and establish related public disclosure requirements. Concerns about improper conduct had spurred an investigation by the attorney general’s office last year.
Why this requires an “industry code of conduct” I don’t know. Seems like local government officials should already be subject to laws and policies prohibiting them from using governmental authority to secure private benefits. Offering bribes or similar inducements to public officials is also likely already illegal in New York. So what’s so funny about wind power development in New York that it requires a sub-industry specific code of ethical conduct?
The first news release issued yesterday said 14 additional companies had signed the ethics code (that is in addition to the two companies that signed last year after coming under investigation by the state). By the way, the news release said, the attorney general’s office was continuing its investigation by serving a subpoena on Reunion Power, which “has not agreed to sign the Code.”
A few hours later a second news release announced that, surprise!, Reunion Power had agreed to sign the attorney general’s ethics code. The second news release quotes the attorney general, “Accordingly, with this development, virtually the entire wind industry (17 of 17 major companies) has agreed to this new standard of transparency and accountability.”
So the 17 companies faced a choice to either (a) sign on to a statement that makes the attorney general look like a champion of good government, or (b) become the target of a potentially costly publicly-disclosed state-funded investigation into company activities.
I don’t know about accountability, but I’d say the attorney general’s actions are pretty transparent.
(HT to Wind Power Law Blog.)