As the State Senate prepares for a first-time role in approving the soon-to-be-named chief executive of LIPA, a senate committee overseeing the confirmation Thursday appointed Long Island Sen. Charles Fuschillo to sit on the committee.

Fuschillo (R-Merrick), who has been a recent critic of the Long Island Power Authority's storm response costs and its rates, said he intends to be a diligent watchdog through the CEO approval process and beyond. Among his own criteria for a LIPA chief, Fuschillo said he'd like to see "someone who has extensive utility experience who can manage LIPA," which he said "has a long way to go."

"The debt has increased and . . . there's a lot of issues that have to be addressed," Fuschillo said. Some local businesses are pushing for a Long Islander to take the CEO role. Fuschillo said he'd prefer "somebody who fully understands the needs of Long Island residents. We pay among the highest utility rates in the nation. That's unacceptable."

LIPA trustees appoint the new CEO, but 2009 legislation to reform state authorities gives the Senate the right to approve the candidate.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has two open trustee vacancies to the LIPA board, and, like previous governors, may opt for a new chairman. Former LIPA chief Kevin Law, president of the Long Island Association, is considered a candidate for the nonpaid chairman's role, should Cuomo decide to replace the existing chairman, Manhattan-based attorney Howard Steinberg, sources have said. Law declined to comment.

Trustees have come up with a list of three CEO candidates, two of whom are existing LIPA officials: interim CEO Michael Hervey and vice president and former state energy secretary Paul DeCotis. A third candidate is said to hail from a nearby private utility. LIPA and the trustees declined to discuss candidates by name.

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