ALBANY – Richard Kessel, who has headed the state’s largest public power utility since 2008, announced his resignation Tuesday, ending his rocky term as president effective Sept. 6.
Kessel made the announcement at a New York Power Authority board meeting in Westchester County.
The authority’s chief operating officer, Gil Quiniones, will take over as interim leader while the state searches for a permanent replacement. The authority manages 17 public power-generating facilities across the state.
There was no immediate statement from Kessel.
He was appointed president and CEO of the power authority in September 2008 by then-Gov. David Paterson. He was most visible in the Rochester area for his proposal to erect offshore wind turbines in Lake Ontario, which he said could help the state use more sources of renewable energy.
Alan Isselhard, a Huron, Wayne County, resident with lakefront property, said Tuesday he was glad to hear that Kessel had resigned. Isselhard is part of Great Lakes Concerned Citizens, a grass-roots group that opposed the wind turbines.
“I’m really pleased to see this happen,” Isselhard said. “He’s only been involved with NYPA for a short period of time, but he certainly did ruffle a lot of feathers and squander plenty of dollars.”
Kessel’s departure didn’t come as a surprise, said state Senate Energy Committee Chairman George Maziarz, R-Newfane, Niagara County.
“We have a relatively new governor and I’m certain that, like all governors, he wants to move in another direction,” Maziarz said. “I think (Kessel) understands that.”
In recent months, Kessel and the power authority had been in the crosshairs of state Inspector General Ellen Biben, who was directed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in April to look at the practice of handing out utility funds to charitable organizations with little or no ties to producing power.
Prior to that, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman warned Kessel to stop the practice.
John Milgrim, a spokesman for Biben, said her investigation is ongoing.
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