Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Richie Kessel Gone??? Top Levy aide to replace Kessel as LIPA head

LIPA Chairman Richard Kessel announces rate reduction after new deal with Keyspan at press conference. LIPA HQ, Omni Bldg., Mitchell Field, Garden City on January 11, 2006.(Photo by Michael E. Ach)


How ironic is this.........Richie..a life long democrat survives for 12 years under a Republican Pataki...only to be ousted by a Democratic Spitzer.........unfortunately for Richie..too many LIPA complaints for Eliot to ignore...things were already building up for a change of leadership at the top...hey was a nice run while it lasted.........andy

Gov. Eliot Spitzer is expected to announce as early as today that Kevin S. Law, a top deputy to Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy, has been appointed chairman of the Long Island Power Authority, sources said yesterday.At the same time, longtime LIPA chairman Richard Kessel is expected to be named LIPA's interim chief executive as part of a transition that will see him depart in the fall, when Law would be named CEO, the sources said.Law, a well-regarded attorney and former managing partner for the regional office of law firm Nixon Peabody, is expected to assume the unpaid chairman's post as soon as a LIPA trustee meeting tomorrow. Law is expected to remain on Levy's staff for the time being, and to recuse himself from matters in which the two entities intersect, the sources said.Law, whose legal expertise has been in energy, environmental, real estate and municipal law, has had a behind-the-scenes hand in many of the region's largest energy projects, including the Cross Sound Cable and the Islander East pipeline project. Supporters say the move will make Law Spitzer's point man on Long Island.Law declined to comment yesterday, and a Spitzer spokeswoman didn't return a phone call. Kessel declined comment.

Within the Levy administration, supporters have labeled Law "the glue," the official who makes the 12,000-employee county government run on a day-to-day basis.Law has been a rumored front-runner for the job since speculation began to surface in the fall that the top LIPA post was up for grabs. In appointing Law, Spitzer appears to be responding to criticism that LIPA, under former Gov. George Pataki, was a bloated organization that operated largely without oversight.Levy in the past two years has been among the more vocal critics of LIPA and its rate structure, pressing Kessel for a full review of rates and controversial fuel surcharges. Despite agreeing to the review in 2005, LIPA put it off until a class-action lawsuit and other pressures pushed Kessel to it early last year. The review LIPA formulated through the Public Service Commission was rejected by the commission.LIPA, which long maintained it had "absorbed" some fuel-cost increases and lowered rates last year, has since agreed to a review by an outside auditing firm.LIPA last year came under fire for failing to announce that Kessel had resigned the CEO post last January to comply with a new state authorities law that mandates separation of the two posts. He had served only as chairman for all of last year but continued to draw his previous salary. Kessel as interim CEO will retain his base $165,000 salary in the new role, sources said.Observers expect Law to conduct a review of LIPA's management and operating structure when he assumes day-to-day control in the fall. LIPA, which some have criticized for paying high salaries to political appointees, could see a leaner structure as a result.

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