LIPA chief executive John McMahon announced his resignation on Wednesday,...

LIPA chief executive John McMahon announced his resignation on Wednesday, April 29, 2015, after two years of running the embattled utility. Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

LIPA chief executive John McMahon announced his resignation Thursday after two years of running the utility.

McMahon, who joined LIPA in April 2013 after more than 35 years at Con Edison, has said he had always planned to keep his stay at Long Island Power Authority short.

"I came here thinking I would stay six months," McMahon said in an interview. "It's time to take note of LIPA's achievements and go home."

McMahon, 62, who lives in Manhattan, leaves LIPA at the end of August. LIPA has not named a replacement.

McMahon took the reins at a time of turmoil at LIPA. He replaced acting chief Michael Hervey in the wake of superstorm Sandy, which knocked out power to more than 900,000 of LIPA's 1.1 million customers. During McMahon's tenure the state passed the LIPA Reform Act and LIPA staff was cut from 92 to 40.

"He had to steer the ship through very rough waters," said LIPA trustee Matthew Cordaro, who voted against McMahon's appointment on procedural grounds two years ago because a formal search had not been conducted. Cordaro praised McMahon as a utility pro who led LIPA to its primary oversight role.

McMahon said he was most proud of building a core team at LIPA. "We've really completely changed this organization," he said. "We had an opportunity to really reinvent LIPA."

Before joining LIPA, McMahon had been senior vice president and general counsel at Con Ed and president and chief operating officer of Con Ed's Orange & Rockland Utilities Inc., among other posts.

He leaves LIPA as the utility and PSEG Long Island are in the midst of a 4 percent rate increase request before the state Department of Public Service. His departure also comes as PSEG and LIPA work on plans to have the utility conform to the state's Reforming the Energy Vision plan, which seeks to avoid building traditional plants and transmission lines by reducing demand and implementing green energy.

"We have a small but mighty staff here that is suited to the challenges we have," McMahon said.

He declined to discuss plans for his successor but said, "If asked for my contribution, I would say that I expect the board to institute a process where they would consider internal and external candidates."

The LIPA board of trustees is charged with filling the position, but the governor's office has always had the final say.

In 1998, when LIPA took over the Long Island Lighting Co., Richard Kessel was appointed chief executive by Gov. George Pataki.

Kessel held the post until 2007, when Kevin Law was appointed to the post by Gov. Eliot Spitzer. In 2010, Hervey, then LIPA's chief operating officer, took over the chief executive duties on an interim basis. He left the post in the aftermath of superstorm Sandy, in November 2012.

Michael Taunton, a LIPA finance chief, served as chief operating officer for several months until McMahon joined in April 2013, initially as chief operating officer.

McMahon was recommended to the position by Richard Kauffman, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's energy czar.

McMahon, who earned more than $5.2 million in total compensation at Con Ed in 2010, the year before he retired, makes $275,000 a year at LIPA.

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