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Richard Kessel, President & CEO NY Power Authority

May 1, 2009 @ 12:00 am EDT


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Richard Kessel has had an interesting career. Today he addressed the LIMBA audience as the President and CEO of the New York Power Authority. NYPA, Kessel told us, is the largest public power company in the nation. He sees his role as a reformer of that authority.

He revisited briefly his tenure at LIPA. The original mandate for LIPA was quite narrow, but under his tenure 2000 megawatts were added to the system and alternative energy was advanced further than any other power company. Now, Kessel said, it is to change NYPA in similar basic ways.

NYPA was where Trooper-gate was hatched.  NYPA has it’s own police force that was used to create that scandal. That police force has since been disbanded. NYPA has an airplane, but Kessel uses commercial flights where he can. Now the plane is used by operational employees to access places in the state that are not commercially served.

He told us that there will be a strong focus in breathing some life into the economy of upstate New York. That may not be a message that Long Islanders want to hear, but the economy in rural New York is desperate. ALCOA was all but washed up in Messina NY, and NYPA worked out a deal that allows ALCOA to preserve some of those jobs. As far as GM is concerned upstate, it’s gone!

The Economic Development section of NYPA will be completely revamped. The “Power for Jobs” program will be revamped as well. Presently a client like Fotunoff’s, which is going out of business, was a PFJ recipient cannot have its allocation transferred to another business entity. Kessel promises that will be changed.

Kessel promises to introduce wind and solar projects to NYPA. He is negotiating with the concerned communities that are adjacent to the Great Lakes to form a wind power agreement to place turbines on Lake Erie and or Lake Ontario

At NYPA Kessel wants to embark on large scale central solar, rather than the roof program. Roofs are OK, but he feels the course NYPA should take is the large-scale programs. (Sacramento Municipal Utility District did this year ago.)

In New York City a new high volume power cable will be built from Bergen County New Jersey to 49th street in Manhattan. There will probably be more such links to tie the region together, but the biggest link-up will be a robust transmission line coming from Canada. This line will use existing right-of-ways precluding a difficult permitting process. This line will make low cost Hydro-Quebec power available to downstate.

These are ambitious plans, but given the aggressive leadership he showed at LIPA, Kessel is believable.