Looking back, we were practically giddy over the fact that a Western New Yorker was named to head the New York Power Authority. After all, Roger Kelley was a Kenmore native, so naturally he could understand the need to refocus NYPA's priorities on this area, instead of taking the massive profits and power generated at the Lewiston facility and "reallocating" them to other parts of the state. Sadly, our hope was misguided as Kelley never showed an inclination to do much for Western New York and Niagara County.
Fast forward to the recent announcement that Richie Kessel will take over as the head of NYPA, and the fear that the former head of the Long Island Power Authority will further diminish NYPA's focus on our region. Thankfully, we may be wrong.
Kessel is saying all of the right things as he travels throughout Upstate, including a willingness to reconsider the program that allocates low-cost power for local industry as well as consider keeping more of the revenue generated by the Niagara Power Project in the region. A fantastic concept since most of the authority’s profits in recent years have been generated right here at the Lewiston facility. Unfortunately for us, the proceeds have been used mostly to benefit interests outside the region.
Kessel goes on to say, “NYPA can be one of the major economic engines in Western New York if we put our mind to it. I think there are some huge opportunities.” Well hallelujah. Either he gets it or he is damn good at telling people what they want to hear. Either way, we will remain hopeful that Mr. Kessel is a man of his word. Of course, his qualifier of "if we put our mind to it" scares us a bit, but we will place our faith in Mr. Kessel's apparent willingness to do what is right for our region.