Cuomo Recommends New Chairman For Power Authority

John Koelmel, president of First Niagara Financial Group Inc., was nominated today by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to serve on the New York Power Authority board and to serve as its chairman.

Koelmel, whose nomination will require Senate approval, would succeed the current chairman Michael Townsend, a prominent Rochester-area attorney who was first appointed to the board by then-Gov. George Pataki in 2004.

“With decades of experience in key leadership and management positions with major private sector organizations, John Koelmel has the expertise needed to be a strong and effective voice on the NYPA Board of Trustees,” Cuomo said in a statement.

Koelmel has been president of First Niagara since 2006 and has led its rapid expansion in New York and neighboring states. Koelmel spent 26 years at KPMG LLP, serving as managing partner of the Buffalo office.

The White Plains-based Power Authority is largest state power organization in the nation, with 17 generating facilities and more than 1,400 miles of transmission lines.

“For New York State to come back stronger than ever and to rebuild a vibrant and sustainable economy, we need affordable, clean power,” Koelmel, 59, of East Amherst, Erie County said in a statement.

Koelmel’s nomination is the latest appointment by Cuomo to the Power Authority since he took office in January 2011. In October, Cuomo nominated Gil Quiniones, the authority’s chief operating officer since 2008, to take over as president and CEO. Quiniones replaced Richard Kessel, who led NYPA from October 2008 until he resigned in July 2011 amid a state investigation into the authority’s donations to politically connected non-profit groups.

A year ago, Cuomo nominated John Dyson, a Millbrook, Dutchess County, resident, to serve on the NYPA board, which Dyson had served on from 1979 to 1985.


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