Cohocton Wind Watch: Attorney General Cuomo subpoenas Noble Environmental Power by Calvin Luther Martin
Cohocton Wind Watch is a community citizen organization dedicated to preserve the public safety, property values, economic viability, environmental integrity and quality of life in Cohocton, NY and in surrounding townships. Neighbors committed to public service in order to achieve a reasonable vision for a Finger Lakes region worthy of future generations.


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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Attorney General Cuomo subpoenas Noble Environmental Power by Calvin Luther Martin

Sometime yesterday (7-15-08), NYS Attorney General Andrew Cuomo issued a stunning press release, “Attorney General Cuomo Launches Investigation into Wind Power Companies’ Conduct across Upstate New York.”

Noble Environmental Power is one of them. (The other, UPC Wind, operates downstate.) The investigation is based on months of research by the Attorney General’s office, including a discreet visit to Malone by an Assistant Attorney General to interview town officers and other interested parties.

“The allegations include accusations that the companies improperly sought or obtained land-use agreements with public officials and the officials’ relatives and acquaintances; gave bribes and other improper benefits to public officials; and entered into anti-competitive agreements or practices…. A Cuomo spokesman added that the two subpoenas are just the beginning. ‘This is an initial part of an ongoing investigation,’ said spokesman John Milgrim” (The Buffalo News, 7/16/08, p. A2).

The impetus for this statewide investigation (which, by the way, is the first of its kind in the nation) came from right here, by golly—from Franklin County District Attorney Derek Champagne, responding to voluminous complaints that the wind developers were not playing by the rules. Readers of this page will recall an article we did this spring, “Where the Buck Stops,” which began with:

Last week, District Attorney Derek Champagne forcefully stepped into the vacuum of government control over conflicts of interest between municipal officers and the wind developers. Up till then, every single NYS agency had been passing the buck about enforcing NYS General Municipal Law (GML) against (obvious) conflicts of interest.

And it ended with this:

Meanwhile, while this story plays out, mark this date on your calendar, April 2, 2008. The day the buck stopped with District Attorney Derek Champagne. The day “clean, green, renewable” wind energy moved from town hall to county courthouse—where, tragically, it belongs. It is said History repeats itself. Enron’s hubris drove it into corruption, then court, then jail.

Attorney General Cuomo’s announcement opens Chapter Two of this narrative: Courthouse.

RiverCityMalone applauds Mr. Champagne for initiating this inquiry and getting the AG involved. The word “applause” is not enough; we’re talking, folks, about one damn good DA. This took uncommon vision and determination. And lots of work. The man deserves a ticker tape parade.

All this is not to hang Noble. One of the most critical institutions in America is due process before the law. Let Noble have its day in court. At the same time let the people of this state, represented by their attorney general, examine all the evidence Noble has in its possession.

Noble, for its part, has issued a press release promising full cooperation. (This is of course standard from corporations that suddenly find themselves on the legal hot seat. See Enron.)

Meanwhile, the turbines go up. Daily. Whether Noble’s turbines have been producing any electricity is a good question. (Yes, they’ve been spinning, but that’s not the same as generating power.) The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) maintains a website (click here) whereon anyone can find out precisely how much electricity Noble’s windfarms are producing. (Not just Noble and not just wind energy, but all producers of electricity throughout the country.) FERC does not show any power generation for Noble’s windfarms through June 30, 2008. This may be because the production figures are still being processed, or because there has been no power generated so far. It’s unclear.

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