Last year, the Long Island Power Authority entered into a wind power generation contract with Deepwater Wind. LIPA did not immediately make the contract available. Si Kinsella is a LIPA customer with concerns about the Deepwater Wind project, specifically, he wants to know what taxpayers will be paying for electricity under the contract. The contract price affects all New Yorkers— LIPA customers will pay directly and other New Yorkers will pay through subsidies. Because of these concerns, Mr. Kinsella asked for a copy of the contract under the Freedom of Information Law. The State Comptroller did provide him with a copy, but with one glaring omission: the contract price. The Comptroller argues that disclosing the contract price could harm Deepwater’s competitive position. This argument is problematic because Deepwater volunteered to do business with the state and part of doing business with the state means committing to the level of transparency that state contracts must abide by. This includes making sure the public, the funders behind the project, know how much it costs.
GJC filed a lawsuit for Mr. Kinsella seeking disclosure of the contract price. The Comptroller’s position on this contract could set a dangerous precedent of secrecy. State agencies should not be able to hide public contract prices from taxpayers. FOIL exists for the express reason that government is the public’s business and public contract prices are a prime example of the public’s right to know.