Gov. Kathy Hochul on Thursday appointed Rory M. Christian, a one-time KeySpan Energy engineer and government liaison, to take the top role at the Public Service Commission.
Christian, who had been named a PSC commissioner in June, takes the chairman's role from John Howard, an appointee of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo. Howard will remain a PSC commissioner.
In addition to being named chairman of the PSC, Christian also will become chief executive of the state Department of Public Service, the administrative arm of the PSC.
Hochul in a statement cited Christian's "deep expertise on utility operations and regulation, environmental policy and community engagement." She said his skills were well-suited to help advance the state's green-energy goals while ensuring reliable, affordable utility service across the state. The PSC regulates utilities in the electric, gas, water and communications sectors.
"I have high expectations that under Rory's leadership, the PSC will advance innovative energy and telecommunications policy, protect consumers, enhance utility reliability and resilience, foster economic development and responsibly tackle the challenge of climate change," Hochul said.
Christian rose to a government liaison role at KeySpan, coordinating with local governments, negotiating contracts and streamlining operations before moving on to Exelon Energy. He also served as director of energy finance and sustainability for the New York City Housing Authority. Before joining the PSC, he served as director of New York clean energy at the Environmental Defense Fund.
Christian, who lives in Brooklyn, graduated from the City College of New York's Grove School of Engineering with a bachelor's degree in civil engineering before earning an MBA from Baruch College's Zicklin School of Business.
Earlier this month, the Department of Public Service confirmed a Newsday report that Carrie Meek Gallagher, a former Long Island regional director for the state Department of Environmental Conservation, was named director of the Long Island DPS office. Gallagher earlier this year was advanced by Cuomo to acting deputy secretary for energy and the environment.
DPS declined to make Gallagher available for an interview, but in a statement, she said she looked forward to "helping ensure fair and reasonable electric rates for Long Islanders" while working on clean energy. The Long Island Power Authority/PSEG hasn't been subjected to a full rate review by DPS since 2015. The office plans to increase its Long Island staff of 22 by up to 10 new positions this year, Newsday reported.
Howard in a statement said the office has delivered "tangible wins for Long Islanders, including helping to keep rate increases nearly flat for the past several years, increasing the use of renewable energy, and improving efficiency."
But Peter Schlussler, a former member of the LIPA oversight committee of the Suffolk Legislature, said he didn't have high expectations of a reinvigorated DPS on Long Island.
"Unfortunately, my expectations are low and I’m sure I’ll be disappointed based on what they’ve not done in the past," he said. "Their deliverables have been unknown. Their oversight has been mediocre at best. It really offers no value."