Citizens Task Force on Wind Power
PO Box 345
Oquossoc, Me 04964
April 28, 2010
Attorney General Janet Mills
6 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333
Dear Ms. Mills,
We are writing on behalf of the Citizens Task Force on Wind Power in asking for your office to conduct a full investigation into the matter of Kurt Adams accepting a grant of “units of equity” from his future employer First Wind, while still acting as head of Maine PUC, which was revealed in reporter Naomi Shalit's piece in the Bangor Daily News and the Sun Journal on April 22, 2010 (enclosed). The timing of these grants, apparently a month prior to Adams leaving PUC to go to work for First Wind, raises serious questions about Adam's impartiality in dealing with wind power issues while still employed as a Maine PUC Commissioner. It also raises questions of whether his conduct violated 17-A M.R.S.A. §605 (improper gifts to public servants”) or 5 M.R.S.A. §19 (financial disclosure by executive employees).
We are particularly disturbed by the public statements attributed to Mr. Adams purporting to justify the receipt of “units of equity” while serving as PUC Chair on grounds that the stock interest “had no value at all” at the time. The stock interest clearly was a “pecuniary benefit” by any definition of the term, as used in the criminal statute, and, based on the information in the news article, might well qualify as “income” within the meaning of the disclosure statute. The disclaimer by Mr. Adams, at a minimum, shows insensitivity to the clear appearance of a conflict that invites further investigation.
A thorough review of PUC matters related to wind power under Mr. Adams’ tenure is warranted, because his conversations with First Wind about employment no doubt preceded the award of stock options. Typically in employment contracts such as Mr. Adams entered into with First Wind there is extensive fine print, with terms of employment, including job description, performance review and potential for promotion and particulars about compensation and bonuses requiring significant time and back and forth, negotiations and review by attorneys, etc.
We believe it is important to know when Mr. Adams began discussing employment opportunities with First Wind, and what, if any PUC matters involving First Wind, such as the approval of an agreement between First Wind at Rollins and CMP for the purchase of future wind generated electricity at rates much higher than current day ahead or real time market rates in Maine, came under review during this time. It is also important to know what other matters involving wind power energy came under his jurisdiction when he had a relationship with First Wind or its predecessor, even if it did not involve First Wind.
We are aware of requests for an investigation of First Wind by Hampton Mitchell and also by attorney Lynne Williams, due to concerns about potential improper dealings with government officials in Maine. We are aware that the Attorney General in New York investigated First Wind (then called UPC Wind), for improper dealings with local officials which resulted in the creation of a special Code of Ethics for wind companies in New York.
The questions raised by Adams’ acceptance of stock options while still employed by the state of Maine can only be answered by an impartial and thorough investigation by your office. We hope you agree that this is a potentially serious matter, which at a minimum creates the appearance of conflict of interest and thereby undermines the trust of citizens in the government.
Thank you for your consideration.
Monique Aniel, MD
co-chairs, Citizens Task Force on Wind Power.