Friday, December 01, 2006

LIGHTS OUT FOR KESSEL???

Newsday Editorial

"Take a new look at LIPA
With a new governor in Albany, it's time to review Island's energy needs"


"It was Gov. George Pataki who appointed Richard Kessel as Long Island's energy czar in 1997. So, as administrations change in Albany, it's not surprising that Kessel's future at the Long Island Power Authority has sparked a controversy.Kessel's critics have seized on a little-known change in titles he executed earlier this year, in order to comply with a new state law. Kessel, who sends out press releases on matters as modest as changing lightbulbs, should have made clear he had resigned as chief executive while remaining as chairman. Regardless of what he is called, however, Kessel still does both jobs, and it may be time for that to change.'

Gov.-elect Eliot Spitzer and his energy transition team should seize on this opportunity for a comprehensive evaluation of LIPA, a public authority created from the ashes of the Long Island Lighting Co. Has the time come for Long Island's electric supplier to convert back to a private utility? Or should it remain a public authority, but shrink down to the lean oversight agency that was originally intended? If LIPA is to remain essentially unchanged, what management structure and leadership is needed to run it most efficiently? And who would monitor its actions?That means it's time for a fresh face, someone with the mission of advancing Spitzer's broad energy agenda, to take a top job at LIPA. That person would be charged with developing a conceptual framework for LIPA's future. Spitzer also needs someone who can assess the many pending proposals to meet Long Island's energy needs - from Broadwater's proposed liquefied natural gas terminal in Long Island Sound and LIPA's wind turbine project off Jones Beach to smaller projects to harness the power of the ocean's waves - and fashion them into a comprehensive plan."

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