The state attorney general is launching an investigation aimed at two out-of-state companies developing wind farms in Lackawanna and across New York.
The probe, announced Tuesday, comes amid allegations of improper dealings with public officials and anti-competitive practices.
Investigators have served subpoenas on Newton, Mass.,-based First Wind and Essex, Conn.,-based Noble Environmental Power LLC. First Wind built the Steel Winds project along Lake Erie in the city of Lackawanna and has wind farms in development in Steuben, Chautauqua, Genesee and Wyoming (GenWY Wind) counties. Noble Environmental Power LLC has three active wind farms and five in development in Allegany, Chautauqua, Clinton, Franklin and Wyoming counties.
The companies are being investigated to see if they improperly sought or obtained land-use agreements with citizens and public officials; whether improper benefits were given to public officials to influence their actions, and whether they entered into anti-competitive agreements or practices.
“We have received the subpoena from the attorney general’s office, and we intend to fully cooperate with his office,” said First Wind spokesperson John LaMontagne.
In a Business First story reported the week of July 4, some officials in Lackawanna questioned the agreements negotiated by Mayor Norman Polanski with First Wind for construction of eight electricity-generating windmills on the former Bethlehem Steel site and a plan to construct 18 more turbines.
In recent months, the attorney general’s office said it has received numerous complaints regarding the two companies from citizens, groups and public officials in eight counties alleging improper relations between the companies and local officials and other improper practices.
“The use of wind power, like all renewable energy sources, should be encouraged to help clean our air and end our reliance on fossil fuels,” said Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. “However, public integrity remains a top priority of my office and if dirty tricks are used to facilitate even clean-energy projects, my office will put a stop to it.”
Wind farms are clusters of large turbines powered by wind and connected to the electric grid.
By David Bertola
15 July 2008
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