The Richie Kessel NYPA Watch, November 9, 2008 – By George J. Marlin

Richie Kessel, having been installed by Governor Paterson as CEO of NYPA only three weeks ago, leaked to Newsday’s Mark Harrington, as reported in the November 7 issue, that he plans a wind farm “of significant size” off the Atlantic Coast and a new sub-Atlantic power cable. As is his practice, Kessel didn’t disclose the potential cost, effect on customer rates or how after three weeks at NYPA he could pronounce these steps as the right diagnosis for the State’s energy ills. In true Carnac the Magnificent custom, let me proffer three answers: Billions of dollars, dramatically higher customer rates for affected areas and Kessel doesn’t have a clue but after two weeks was hungry for some press.

Kessel told Harrington that he envisions a NYPA wind farm built under a “downstate partnership” among NYPA, the City of New York, the MTA, LIPA and the Port Authority. Belying the purely promotional nature of the leak, Kessel noted that he had spoken on the phone to Mayor Bloomberg about the concept; a mayoral spokesman confirming the extremely tentative nature of this trial balloon noted that Bloomberg and Richie would meet in the future.

Observers of Kessel’s reign at LIPA will remember that Kessel heavily promoted a wind farm off of Jones Beach which despite Kessel’s promise of cheap wind power ballooned to $800 million in cost and was abandoned by LIPA and Governors Spitzer and Paterson due to its adverse effect on beleaguered Long Island ratepayers and complaints about ruining the pristine Long Island viewscape off the South Shore. That exercise cost Long Island electric customers many millions of dollars. Long Islanders will also remember (certainly Newsday does) that Kessel, the leading Long Island practitioner of government by press release, stonewalled Newsday’s repeated requests for data about the wind farm’s costs, effect on rates and technical issues. Newsday was forced to resort to multiple freedom of information requests for this information.

Governor Paterson announced in September of this year that LIPA would carefully study a wind farm off the coast of the Rockaways in partnership with Con Edison. It is too early to draw any conclusions about the feasibility of that project although the presence of Con Edison, a stockholder-owned concern with many issues of its own, should bring some rationality to economic analysis of any wind facility. LIPA’s coolness to this latest Kessel proposal was evident in its tautological response quoted by Newsday’s Harrington: “LIPA is interested in working with NYPA on any project that makes sense for Long Island.” Hard to argue with that.

Finally, observers of Kessel’s time on Long Island will also remember that politically-connected lobbyists close to Richie were advancing the cause of Florida Power & Light, one of the nation’s leading wind companies, which had been chosen by LIPA to build the now-abandoned Long Island wind farm. Let’s watch the lobbying issue going forward.

Thanks to the present and former NYPA employees who have reached out since we first published on Kessel and NYPA. Among other things one wonders what NYPA’s professional staff think about this initial Kessel trial balloon. Please email to streetcornercons@aol.com.

P.S. Kessel’s decision to leak to Newsday, Long Island’s dominant paper, raises anew questions about whether he yet realizes that NYPA is an upstate-focused government entity and whether his real interest is ultimately in running for Nassau County Executive when the current occupant, Tom Suozzi, moves on.

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4 Comments on “The Richie Kessel NYPA Watch, November 9, 2008 – By George J. Marlin”

  1. The Power guy Says:

    Please keep up the good work. I also work at NYPA and am appalled at this guy being in power there (excuse the pun).
    Most of us are professional engineers who just want to do a good job and not get caught up in the ridiculousness of the politics that run the upper echelons of NYPA.
    Power Guy.

  2. Energy Guy Says:

    Hey City Hall didnt know that Kessel was going to do this. As a matter of fact, the Mayor’s press people called the No 2 guy at NYPA who used to work for Bloomberg and said what’s the deal? He didnt know what they were talking about. Kessel may have operated this way on Long Island but he’s in the big show now and Patterson, Bloomie and Law wont stand for Kessel’s act

  3. White Plains Says:

    I work at NYPA and my friends at LIPA tell me that Kevin Law, Mr. Kessel’s successor at LIPA, was none too happy with Mr. Kessel’s announcement about the wind farm proposal. Apparently, Mr. Kessel didn’t inform Mr. Law and the LIPA folks felt blindsided and sandbagged by Mr. Kessel, especially in light of their earlier announcment of a possible wind farm project with Con Ed. The fun is just beginning.

  4. NYPA Staffer Says:

    Thanks for watching our new CEO. NYPA has a long history of professionalism and our new boss threatens to bring both politics and a disregard for the effect on NYPA’s finances and electric costs in New York State into the equation. I can tell you that everyone at NYPA is reading your Kessel Watch.

    NYPA Staffer


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