First Wind fixes filings on its VP

By Kevin Miller, BDN Staff
Posted May 14, 2010, at 9:53 p.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — First Wind officials have corrected filings with federal regulators to clarify that vice president Kurt Adams did not receive a form of “equity” with the company until after stepping down as head of Maine’s Public Utilities Commission.

In an earlier filing with the federal Securities and Exchange Commission, First Wind had indicated that Adams received approximately 1.2 million units of “long-term equity” on April 16, 2008. While not stocks, the equity units are considered a part of his compensation package with the wind power developer.

But it wasn’t until a month later that Adams left the PUC to join First Wind as a senior vice president. That filing prompted questions about whether Adams had a conflict of interest while serving on the commission, which regulates power producers.

On Friday, First Wind filed an amended form with the SEC correcting the dates.

While Adams signed an employment agreement with the company in April 2008, the equity or “restricted units” have no value — or do not become “vested” — until one year after an employee begins working for First Wind. So that vesting period did not begin for Adams until he officially joined the company on May 19, 2008.

“Neither First Wind nor Mr. Adams intended for the vesting period to begin any earlier,” said First Wind spokesman John Lamontagne. “So what we did was basically correct that erroneous grant date.”

Adams also had recused himself from PUC discussion and decisions involving First Wind for several months before signing on with the company.

It was unclear Friday whether the clerical fix would mollify groups that have questioned the relationship between Adams and First Wind.

Boston-based First Wind operates commercial wind power facilities in Maine at Mars Hill and Stetson Mountain and is developing two more large projects near the towns of Lincoln and Oakfield.

Adams’ relationship with First Wind while he was chairman of the PUC has drawn the scrutiny of some media outlets and critics of Maine’s push to become a major producer of wind power.

The Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting, a nonprofit journalism organization, first raised questions about the timing of Adams’ compensation package in a report published last month.

Members of the group Citizens’ Task Force on Wind Power, which is strongly critical of the wind power industry in Maine and elsewhere, have since asked Maine Attorney General Janet Mills to investigate whether Adams broke any laws.

Kate Simmons, spokeswoman for the attorney general, had no comment on the matter on Friday.

“We can neither confirm nor deny that there is an investigation,” Simmons said.

In a statement, First Wind said the company reviewed the process leading up to Adams’ hiring.

“We take these matters seriously and have every confidence that First Wind and Mr. Adams acted legally and properly,” the statement read.

http://bangordailynews.com/2010/05/14/news/first-wind-fixes-filings-on-its-vp/ printed on October 2, 2014