Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo of New York has opened an investigation of five large energy companies, questioning whether their plans to build coal-fired power plants pose undisclosed financial risks that their investors should know about.

Mr. Cuomo, using the same state securities law wielded by his predecessor, Gov. Eliot Spitzer, to investigate corruption on Wall Street, sent subpoenas late Friday to the top executives of the five companies, seeking internal documents.

The companies, which have projects in various states, are AES Corporation, Dominion, Dynegy, Peabody Energy and Xcel Energy.

It is rare, if not unique, for a securities law to be used for an environmental purpose, in this case the fight against new coal-fired power plants. The plants’ main emission, carbon dioxide, has been linked by scientists to global warming.

In letters accompanying the subpoenas, the attorney general’s office asked whether investors received adequate information about the potential financial liabilities of carbon dioxide emissions that exacerbate climate change.

“Any one of the several new or likely regulatory initiatives for CO2 emissions from power plants – including state carbon controls, E.P.A.’s regulations under the Clean Air Act, or the enactment of federal global warming legislation – would add a significant cost to carbon-intensive coal generation,” the letters said.

They added, “Selective disclosure of favorable information or omission of unfavorable information concerning climate change is misleading.”

Mr. Cuomo’s move represents a new tactic in an expanding campaign against some of the more than 100 coal-fired power plants currently under consideration.

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