Wind energy and free money, what could possibly go wrong? Well, we’re beginning to find out. Reports from the United States and around the world show government corruption and even organized crime are starting to make an appearance in this “green” business. Hmm, … who could have predicted that?
Organized crime gets into wind
Europol, the European Union’s law enforcement agency, reported in their latest threat assessment that organized crime has moved into wind energy:
… there are increasing reports of Italian OCGs engaging in the so called ‘Alternative or Green Energy’ market, for example investments in wind energy farms. Such projects offer attractive opportunities to benefit from generous MS and EU grant and tax subsidies, but apart from effectively exploiting eco-friendly incentives for their financial gain,they also create possibilities to launder proceeds of crime
What a surprise.
Government officials operate in secrecy
A town in Oklahoma has recalled a city councilman who was having private meetings with a wind developer:
PIEDMONT, Oklahoma — Voters in Piedmont have ousted a city councilman in a recall election that was called after the councilman upset residents by meeting privately with officials interested in building a wind farm in the town.
Government officials having private meetings without telling the voters and taxpayers they represent? Say it ain’t so! That could never happen here in North East, … could it?
Cozy relationships between regulators and the businesses they regulate
Out in Hawaii, on the island of Lanai, a state regulator leaves and goes to work for the companies he was regulating:
The former chairman of the state Public Utilities Commission — who headed the regulatory agency in 2010 when it voted 2-1 to waive competitive bidding requirements for a proposed wind energy project on Lanai — is now representing the project’s developer before the PUC.
Government regulators giving the old wink and nod to companies and then getting nice jobs in return? Sounds like the old revolving door. Sometimes, a wind developer even gives the local officials suggestions about how a regulation or ordinance should be written, good thing that could never happen here.
Government officials lying to get money
Down in Texas, a government official falsified documents to obtain a $1.8 million wind energy stimulus grant:
Charles Malouff, a former law enforcement official, was found guilty by a Travis County jury on Wednesday of falsifying documents for $1.8 million in federal stimulus money for a Jonestown wind energy operation.
The money was just too tempting.
Wind energy demands extremely close scrutiny
When officials become adversarial in reaction to questions from voters, they appear to have something to hide. Anyone running for public office should expect to be questioned constantly about their actions in that office and if they are the type of person that would prefer to answer to no one, they should immediately resign. All public officials who are spending money that belongs to the taxpayers need to account fully for every dime and be happy to do it. Public officials making decisions on behalf of the voters must do so openly and be ready to explain why they decided as they did. All public officials work for the voters and taxpayers, they answer to us. If they have nothing to hide, they should be happy to answer fully at any time.
Nothing less than full transparency
Local officials who are making decisions about ordinances which will regulate certain industries like wind energy, should never have private meetings with representatives of companies in those industries. The opportunities for private “arrangements” are far too great. Taxpayers and voters should be given a full account of any meetings that have already taken place to insure there is no conflict of interest among the persons involved in the decision making process.
Likewise, those officials should not have private meetings with representatives on one side of an issue being debated in public and if any meetings took place, there must be a full and complete disclosure of the discussion and who was in attendance. Those meetings create the overwhelming appearance of bias and may make it impossible for those officials to make a decision that is in the best interests of all residents affected.
Mary Kay Barton says
Thank you for this good post. I wrote an article about the former Perry, NY Supervisor who took a job with Goldman Sach’s “Horizon Wind” just a few months after leaving office back in 2007 – before our local newspaper even had a website. Since I don’t have a link for the article, I am pasting it here for you in its entirety as it appeared in The Batavia Daily News back in 2007. The corruption surrounding the industrial wind issue is apparent!
People will remember how you made them feel
I am writing in regard to the recent article on Ann Humphrey, former Perry Supervisor, who took a job with Horizon Wind Energy, a subsidiary of Goldman Sachs, only 8 months after finishing her term as Supervisor and pushing through the new zoning law which would accommodate industrial wind turbines in Perry. At the very least, her move has the appearance of impropriety.
It is my understanding that N.Y.S. Public Officers Law 73(8)(a)(i) requires elected State officials to be removed at least two years from any governmental position before taking a job which is in direct conflict of interest with their public service. It seems it would be good public policy to adopt the same positions and practices at our local government levels.
We should consider what kind of precedent has been set here. What happens to public trust when public servants take these jobs? Should we now wonder if more of our elected officials have big money jobs waiting for them in multi-billion dollar corporations if they green-light these projects? It certainly appears that the higher moral & ethical standards of previous generations are no longer deemed valuable, and are simply being brushed aside these days.
I find it most interesting that Mrs. Humphrey chooses to continually ‘slam’ her former constituents who are opposed to the project by referring to them as liars who use nothing more than “scare tactics and intimidation”. As cited in the article, these folks “Feel they have been betrayed” by Mrs. Humphrey, who continually dismisses them outright. She cites no examples of her charges, just throws out these unsupported accusations in defense of her position as a Horizon Wind salesperson.
There is a wonderful quote attributed to Maya Angelou that goes, “People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. People will never forget how you made them feel.”
All most people want and need in life is to be heard. It validates that human being – gives them a ‘feeling’ of worth. To continually discount people’s very valid concerns (which are substantiated by studies and reports from well known Universities, Academies of Medicine, M.D.’s, Ph.D.’s, Environmentalists, Economists, Sound Specialists, the U.S. Government’s Energy Information Administration, E.ON Netz Reports from Germany, etc.) as nothing more than “falsehoods, scare tactics and intimidation”, is most certainly not going to give anyone a warm, fuzzy feeling toward the accuser, the company they represent, or the project they hope to site in our town’s neighborhood.
If wind power is the greatest thing to come along since sliced bread, as the wind companies would like us to believe, there should be no need to have to resort to harsh words and personal attacks to prove this point. The facts alone should be able to prove its true merit. Unfortunately, corporates’ big bucks have got the push on to make these projects happen before the government subsidies and incentives expire, and before too many more people educate themselves. Lately however, they seem to be spending less time and effort defending their facts, and much more time and effort casting aspersions and trying to silence those who want to be heard. Following is a list of just a few of the things that need to be heard by all considering wind projects:
1.) In another recent Daily News article, Rick Henry, an engineer with Clark Patterson, admitted that what these wind companies stand to make is “obscene”. Horizon / Goldman Sachs will be able to “write off” up to 200% of the Dairy Hills project in just 5 years. This amounts to a very conservative estimate of at least $120 million in PURE PROFIT! (Forgiven taxes go directly in their pockets.) Together with other projects they have going or planned in rural New York State, that estimate soars to over $1 BILLION – profits that are almost entirely state & federal taxes, that otherwise, would be owed to state & federal coffers. That means it’s EVERYONE’S money, and, therefore, EVERYONE’S concern!
2.) Tom Golisano, in a recent TV interview, said in regard to the potential “Community Wind” projects he’s looking to back, “We’ll turn them over to the Towns in ten years when the incentives run out.” Just in time for the towns to have to incur the hefty repair and/or decommissioning expenses! Thirteen years is the life-expectancy of these things according to North American Wind Power, their pro-wind publication (Vol. 2: No. 12; Jan., 2006, p. 30).
3.) Goldman Sachs now has Horizon Wind for sale. Tom Golisano will be getting out after 10 years. What then? Who will be left holding the bag? The Towns? The landowners? Recent Corporate trends are very clear – when it is convenient for corporations to shed their responsibilities and legally-binding pacts, they do so with increasing regularity (i.e. ENRON – the pioneer of the wind industry in the U.S.).
At the Local Government Workshop I attended in Mt. Morris on Nov. 17, the lawyer who spoke finally admitted, when pressed for an answer by an astute Town Board member, “Ultimately, if the wind companies abandon the project, THE LANDOWNER WILL BE LIABLE.”
4.) Noise from turbines has become such a problem in Europe that they had to convene the First International Wind Turbine Noise Conference in Berlin last year to try to figure out what to do about it – underscoring the existence of the problem with turbine noise. It is obviously the problem with noise that will create sleep disturbances in anyone living nearby. Airports are noted for having this problem, which is why many airports ban flights between 11 P.M. and 7 A.M. Unlike airport neighbors, wind turbine neighbors will not enjoy relief during sleeping hours (unless the wind isn’t blowing, is blowing too hard, or the machines are down due to mechanical failure or abandonment).
You don’t have to be an expert in Health to understand that lack of sleep can lead to illness, and easily worsen any pre-existing condition. Think about how lousy you feel if you don’t sleep well for only just a night or two. Imagine the situation persisting 24/7 for at least the next 10 – 13 years. Now imagine that you are one of the people that is suddenly, with no control over your own health and welfare anymore, going to have as many as SEVENTEEN 410′ tall industrial turbines thrown up around your home.
HOME – your most emotion-filled and expensive life-investment. HOME – the place where everyone SHOULD FEEL SAFE and secure.
If you have any of these concerns, or any concern at all regarding decisions being made that are going to greatly affect your home and quality of life, you are understandably going to feel desperate to be heard, desperate for those whose decision it will ultimately be, to look at all the facts, and desperate that people will care more about their neighbors than money. “Feeling betrayed” by your former government official is definitely NOT what you were hoping for.
Mary Kay Barton
(Mary Kay Barton is a N.Y.S. Certified Professional Health Educator, business owner, and resident in Silver Springs, N.Y.)