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Gov. Andrew Cuomo backs Tom Falcone for top LIPA position

Tom Falcone, chief financial officer for LIPA, speaks

Tom Falcone, chief financial officer for LIPA, speaks during a hearing in Uniondale on Friday, Nov. 13, 2015. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo will announce Tuesday his formal endorsement of Tom Falcone to take over as LIPA’s chief executive officer.

Falcone, who joined the Long Island Power Authority in January, 2014 from the financial industry, currently serves as chief financial officer and chief of staff. A vote by LIPA’s board to approve Falcone’s appointment is scheduled for next week.

“Tom’s leadership has played an integral role in building a more resilient, reliable electric grid on Long Island and he has proven himself to be a responsible steward for LIPA,” Cuomo said.

LIPA’s board is expected to approve the appointment.

Newsday last week reported that the board’s personnel committee would endorse Falcone, 37, who spent 13 years as an investment banker at Morgan Stanley before joining the authority. Falcone was initially recommended to LIPA by Public Financial Management, a North Carolina company that serves as LIPA’s primary financial adviser. Falcone was on a three-member committee that later awarded PFM the LIPA financial services contract.

Falcone had been a candidate for the job since former CEO John McMahon departed last August. Some trustees have expressed concern that Falcone would leave if LIPA appointed a political official to run the authority.

“One of the issues in the past with LIPA is that political considerations didn’t always lead to the best outcomes for the people of Long Island,” said a senior Cuomo administration official, explaining why Falcone’s financial experience was preferred.

Falcone, in a statement, said he was “honored” to have Cuomo’s support for the post, and credited Cuomo with helping LIPA make “significant progress in improving service and stabilizing costs as we build a cleaner, more resilient and affordable power grid for all Long Islanders.”

LIPA’s role has been reduced largely to a holding company in the aftermath of the Cuomo’s LIPA Reform Act. The authority’s staff has been reduced by half to fewer than 50, and most operational control of the electric grid has been turned over to PSEG Long Island. The state Department of Public Service has a “review and recommend” role in overseeing LIPA and PSEG.

“Getting all these parties to work together in a way that achieves the objectives requires hard work and I think a continuation of leadership that Tom Falcone provides,” the administration official said. He’s expected to help bring LIPA and PSEG in line with state goals for increased renewable energy in line with Cuomo’s Reforming the Energy Vision, the official said.

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