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Richard Kessel, President & CEO NY Power Authority

March 12, 2010 @ 12:00 am EST


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Members and Friends:

We were pleased to welcome again Richard Kessel, electricity maven for the state of New York. The unsinkable, energetic Richie gave the capacity crowd a rundown on the what the New York Power Authority (NYPA) is, where its going, and what its pressing issues are.

Very fashionably late, Richie joked about knowing how to get to ALCOA’s North Country plant in Massena, New York better than the Long Island hometown hotel we met at this morning. Opening with a hello to the many people that he has worked with on Long Island over the years, he emphasized that in the energy business you are only as good as the crew that works for you, and was effusive in his praise for the folks running LIPA and the Transmission and Distribution ( T&D ) network for National Grid. Richie was also proud of LIPA’s record of performance, having resisted a base rate increase for the twelve years since its founding in 1998, and the $12 Billion invested in the T&D network on Long Island.

NYPA is a statewide enterprise operating T&D and electric generating facilities. Richie estimated that he spends 30-40% of his time traveling the state, and the challenges in running NYPA are much the same as running LIPA. The main thrust and mission of NYPA is to utilize energy to keep and create jobs in New York. Returning to Massena, he described NYPA’s agreement with Alcoa that allowed the smelter to remain open, preserving hundreds of jobs. He estimated that over two thousand jobs have been kept in New York during his tenure at NYPA so far.

Richie went on to describe the efforts of NYPA to help Globe Metals to stay in New York, Computer Associates to retain and expand its data center on Long Island, and keep International Wire and Cable in Camden, New York afloat. Job creation was a theme also with attracting Yahoo’s newest Data Center to Lockport, NY.

Along with utilizing electric subsidies to preserve and create jobs, building electrical infrastructure is another job creation strategy. Richie defended his record of T & D and generation investments at LIPA, while describing the repowering efforts in Astoria Queens, and his championing of the creation of a new "Electric Thruway " between Long Island and Canada along existing rights of way. Working closely with Hydro-Quebec and National Grid, the thruway would bring cheaper hydropower from new projects in Canada down through New York state and Long Island. Richie also described a new Trans-Hudson cable that is estimated will save ConEd ratepayers $2 Billion over the next 20 years and increase the reliability of the grid.

He also detailed his long time efforts to bring renewables and energy efficiency to the fore with the LED Traffic light program in Nassau County, upgrades at the Bergen Point Sewer Plant in Suffolk, and the new 100 Megawatt Statewide Solar Project, which will quintuple the solar generation in the state. An infamous supporter of wind projects, he also described the Great Lakes offshore wind project, which is targeted to generate between 120-500 Megawatts of power in an area where wind power is already embraced.

The meeting contained a lively, wide-ranging Q & A with Richie addressing local issues of ESCOs and strategic efforts of financing solar power, extending the meeting past its close but being very gracious and generous with his time and knowledge. Again, a friday morning well spent at LIMBA in the company of one of the state’s literal power players, and a room full of movers and shakers of the local economy. 

See the video for this meeting at http://www.proimagegroupinc.com/limba/3-12-10/

Craig Plunkett