Letter of Inquiry to PSC Chair Audrey Zibelman

July 31, 2015

 

Chairman Audrey Zibelman

New York State Public Service Commission

90 Church St

New York, NY 10007

Dear Ms. Zibelman:

My name is Scott Peterson, and I am the executive director of the Checks and Balances Project. We’re a pro-clean energy public watchdog blog that examines the influence of corporate management and lobbyists on government officials, think tanks, the media and others.

We’ve read in the online news publication, Capital, that you met in February with Edward Krapels, your former business partner at Viridity Energy, a company that you co-founded. Krapels is also the founder of Anbaric Microgrid, a company that has billions of dollars of contracts pending before the Public Service Commission.

I note that according to New York Code of Ethics for Public Officers:

“No officer or employee of a state agency, member of the legislature or legislative employee should disclose confidential information acquired by him in the course of his official duties nor use such information to further his personal interests.”

After questions were raised by a Newsday reporter in June about Viridity’s business relationship with Anbaric, you reportedly cut all ties with Viridity and abandoned your shares in the company.

Although it was reported that you voluntarily recused yourself from a decision that could affect one of Anbaric’s projects earlier this year, you have voted on issues that involve the company, and you have yet to recuse yourself from future votes that can impact Anbaric.

Again, according to the New York Code of Ethics:

“. . . state employees should not give reasonable basis for the impression that any person can improperly influence them or be favored in the performance of official duties. Further, state employees should not pursue a course of conduct which could raise suspicion that they are engaged in acts that are a violation of trust.”

With that in mind, I hope you are willing to answer a few questions that will bring some clarity and transparency to this situation:

What is the nature of your relationship with your former Viridity partner, Edward Krapels?

  1. Did you discuss Anbaric projects with Mr. Krapels that are pending before your commission?
  2. Will you commit to recusing yourself from any future decisions affecting Viridity, Anbaric or any other company you are directly or tangentially affiliated with?
  3. Was there an ethics opinion from the Joint Commission on Public Ethics prior to or at the time of your appointment as chairman of the New York Public Services Commission?
  4. If so, will you disclose it?

With recent revelations about utility commissions in other states facing ethical scrutiny, I believe that answering these questions will help to assure the public that all potential conflicts of interest have been appropriately addressed, as well as demonstrate that your commission is dedicated to upholding the highest standards of public integrity.

I look forward to your responses.

Sincerely,

 

Scott Peterson

Executive Director, Checks and Balances Project

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