Less than a year after being replaced as chief executive of the Long Island Power Authority, Richard Kessel resurfaced in a larger role: president and chief executive of the New York Power Authority.
The board of NYPA, the country's largest state-owned electric utility, approved Kessel's appointment to the $240,000-a-year job at a meeting. The salary is subject to approval by the board's compensation committee, and Kessel is due to start work Oct. 14.
A source said he had the strong backing of Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre), who couldn't be reached for comment.
Kessel, who oversaw the Long Island regional transmission system and 100 employees for 10 years at LIPA, takes on NYPA's 1,400 miles of statewide transmission, 18 generating facilities and nearly 1,600 employees.
In an interview, he said his priorities include expanding the transmission system, cooperating with an attorney general probes of NYPA, and bolstering renewable energy. He said he will emphasize the upstate region, where "NYPA has to go the extra mile to help the people and the economy."
Kessel was "thrilled" by LIPA's plans to explore a new wind farm with Con Edison, but said, "I think it was a mistake" to cancel the wind farm proposal he initiated off Jones Beach. He expressed hope that NYPA can work with LIPA on that and other projects.
On the NYPA probes, he said his aim is to "turn around" the utility's image by fully cooperating with the attorney general.
Gov. David A. Paterson said Kessel had the skills and an "effective grasp of the whole energy subject." But, he added, "Obviously, some of the other offices that Kessel's been affiliated with have been criticized for their activities, but I wasn't running those offices."