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Sources: 3 finalists for LIPA chief executive

Michael Hervey, Chief Operating Officer of LIPA. speaks

Michael Hervey, Chief Operating Officer of LIPA. speaks at a public hearing in Uniondale. (Nov. 17, 2010) Credit: Ed Betz

After a six-month search, Long Island Power Authority trustees have narrowed their field of potential chief executives to three candidates, including two who are already top LIPA officials, according to several people familiar with the search.

One is Michael Hervey, LIPA's current chief operating officer and interim chief executive, who previously said he would not seek the job, the sources said.

 Another is Paul DeCotis, a former New York State energy secretary and current LIPA vice president, who has been openly discussed as a candidate by LIPA for months.

The name of the third candidate, who works for an outside utility, was not available.

LIPA's last chief executive, Kevin Law, was paid $295,000 a year, one of the highest salaries among state authorities. Since Law announced his plan to leave LIPA last year to head up the Long Island Association, the trustees have been fielding resumes and hired an outside firm, Heidrick & Struggles, to conduct a national search.

At a trustees' meeting last month, LIPA chairman Howard Steinberg said more than 100 candidates were contacted.

"We are now at the point where we have a short list of candidates," Steinberg said.

Steinberg Tuesday night said he hopes to announce the new chief executive at the board's February meeting, but declined to name the candidates "to protect the integrity of the process and the privacy of the individuals involved." A LIPA spokeswoman said neither the authority nor Hervey and DeCotis would comment.

Though LIPA trustees appoint the chief executive, their choice must be confirmed by the State Senate, and the governor's office is expected to weigh in, perhaps decisively. A call to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's office Tuesday wasn't returned.

Cuomo has two LIPA trustee seats he can fill, and may choose to name a new LIPA chairman. Steinberg joined the board as a trustee appointed by Republican Gov. George Pataki in 1999. Former Gov. David A. Paterson, a Democrat, named Steinberg chairman last year.

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