October 4th, 2011 | City

Yale prof’s connections questioned in Hartford

Dan Esty LAW '86 faces questions in Hartford over his ties to energy companies.
Dan Esty LAW '86 faces questions in Hartford over his ties to energy companies. Photo by Yale Law School.

Yale professor Dan Esty LAW ’86, now the state’s environmental and energy commissioner, is in hot water in Hartford over a financial tie with a major utility that his department regulates emerged, the Hartford Courant reported today.

In 2009, Esty received a $7,500 speaker’s fee from United Illuminating, one utility company serving New Haven. In addition to money from United Illuminating, ING and UTC Power, a financial services corporation and fuel cell company respectively, paid Esty for speeches about three years ago.

These business transactions were within five years prior to Esty’s appointment as commissioner of Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. However, none of the three companies are listed on Esty’s “recusal” list of 26 corporations and two organizations whose issues Esty said he will not touch as commissioner due to past relationships with them.

“The commissioner did develop a recusal list based largely on consulting relationships within the past five years. He did not list businesses and organizations where he did paid appearances and speeches on his recusal list. There’s a real distinction between the kind of relationship you have over time and working closely with the management of a company [as a consultant], as opposed to the one-time ‘come in, give a talk, leave’ relationship [of speech-making]. It’s just very different,” DEEP spokesman Dennis Schain told the Courant.

Esty received personal income from both major utility companies that serve Connecticut before being installed as head of DEEP, which regulates them, the Courant reported.

Esty will no longer give paid speeches while he is commissioner. Though he holds a dual appointment at Yale Law School and the School of Forestry, Esty will not teach during his term with DEEP.