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LIPA still in search of a new CEO days before meeting to approve candidate

Outgoing LIPA chief executive John McMahon announced his

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

LIPA has yet to settle on a new chief executive days before a special meeting called to approve a candidate, and less than four weeks before existing CEO John McMahon is to resign.

LIPA trustee Thomas McAteer, who was appointed to the board by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, has chaired a personnel committee that has received dozens of resumes for the job, according to people briefed on the search.

LIPA, in a statement Monday, said the CEO search "will likely run through August and into September."

"The search for LIPA's new CEO continues to be a thoughtful, deliberate and thorough vetting process," the utility said.

While the LIPA board and its search committee technically interview and approve a CEO, the job has always been filled by the governor's office. During Cuomo's early tenure as governor, the job went unfilled for years until McMahon was named chief operating officer in April 2014. He went on to take the full CEO role months later.

The meeting on Friday was added to the trustees' trimmed-down 2015 meeting schedule after McMahon announced his departure late in April. McMahon in an interview at the time said he hoped the board would consider internal as well as external candidates. Newsday previously reported Tom Falcone, LIPA's chief financial officer, was a contender for the job.

Sources have said Mark Fischl, a LIPA board member appointed by Cuomo in January 2014, has expressed interest in the job. Fischl, a commercial real estate executive, has declined to comment. He is a strong backer of Cuomo's Reforming the Energy Vision, a state plan that seeks to use green energy and new technology to address energy needs that were previously addressed by traditional expensive power plants and transmission lines.

Matthew Cordaro, another LIPA trustee, also remains in the running, he said, and has won the backing of at least four Long Island lawmakers who have taken a high profile on energy issues.

State Sen. Kenneth LaValle (R-Port Jefferson), Assemb. Steve Englebright (D-Setauket), Brookhaven Supervisor Edward P. Romaine, a Republican, and Huntington Supervisor Frank Petrone, a Democrat, all noted Cordaro's long energy experience and relationships with public officials.

LIPA could name an existing official to take over for McMahon at month's end, even on an interim basis. If that official is promoted to chief operating officer, he or she would effectively operate as interim CEO.

LaValle said he hopes the job isn't vacant long: "We should have someone in there as quickly as possible."

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