WHITE PLAINS — Outgoing New York Power Authority President and Chief Executive Officer Gil C. Quiniones received a fond farewell on Tuesday during his final meeting with the NYPA Board of Trustees.
Mr. Quiniones announced his resignation last week to accept a position as CEO of Commonwealth Edison Company — the largest electric utility in Illinois, and the sole electric provider in Chicago and much of Northern Illinois.
He has served as NYPA president and CEO for 10 of his 14 years with the authority and will remain at NYPA until Nov. 5.
During Tuesday’s meeting, the board also approved the appointment of NYPA Executive Vice President and General Counsel Justin E. Driscoll as interim president and CEO, and Lori Alesio as interim general counsel.
“Obviously this is a notable session for us. The good news is this is our first leadership transition. It’s obviously an incredibly significant and important day for Gil, for Justin, for the organization, for Gil and his family as well. Letting go and saying goodbye is never easy, but we’re doing so with a sense of real pride and enthusiasm for what Gil has done for all of us as an organization and what you will carry forward as he moves a little further west and embraces new challenges and new opportunities,” NYPA Board of Trustees Chair John R. Koelmel said.
“I’ve said several times over the last week, a leader wants to know that they’ve left their organization or entity or responsibilities in a better place than where they found them, Mr. Koelmel said. “In your case, we’re in a much, much, much, much better place than where you found us and it’s been a great run for you.”
Mr. Quiniones was appointed as the head of NYPA in 2011 under former Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, taking over for former NYPA President and CEO Richard M. Kessel.
Mr. Quinones congratulated Mr. Driscoll on his appointment.
“I’m certain that the Power Authority will thrive under his leadership and that of the chairman and the trustees,” Mr. Quiniones said.
He said he hoped the day would never come when he would leave the Power Authority.
“I’ve been at the authority for 14 years. It will in fact be exactly 14 a week from Friday, on Oct. 29,” Mr. Quiniones said. “This is the longest I’ve been with any organization. It’s been the defining experience of my career.”
He said his service as president and CEO for the past decade has been “the honor and privilege of a lifetime.”
“The successful addition of the New York State Canals Corporation to the NYPA family has made it all the more so,” he said.
He said he had always known that it would be difficult to leave his current position, “and that only a truly exceptional opportunity could convince me to do so. Such an opportunity did arise with the offer to become the CEO of Commonwealth Edison or ComEd. As I’ve told the trustees and my NYPA and Canals colleagues, I believe that this is the right move at this time for me” as well as his wife and daughter.
Mr. Quiniones said when he met with Gov. Kathleen C. Hochul and submitted his resignation last week, he told her that NYPA was “a jewel that’s absolutely vital to the state’s nation-leading efforts to fight climate change and to create a vibrant future economy.”
“She fully agreed, and she said she’ll be looking to NYPA for more major initiatives in the future,” he said.
He said that when he publicly announced his resignation last week, ComEd and NYPA listed his accomplishments from his time with the Power Authority.
“But ComEd and even NYPA had it wrong. They were not my accomplishments, they were your accomplishments,” he said. “None of them would have been possible without the support and guidance of our current trustees and their predecessors on the board.”
He also commended the “expertise, diligence and leadership” of members of NYPA’s executive management team and employees.
“Nothing would have been possible without the talent and dedication of our exceptional employees in White Plains and at our projects and facilities throughout the state, union and management,” Mr. Quiniones said. “I’ve said it so often that it’s almost become a cliche, but I firmly believe that it’s true. Our employees are our most important resource. So whatever we’ve accomplished over the past decade, we’ve done it together.”
While much has been accomplished over the past decade, there were more challenges ahead, he said.
“NYPA’s important work is as always unfinished,” Mr. Quiniones said. “There are imposing current challenges and others lie ahead. But the authority’s leadership is strong and its finances are solid. Many major projects are well underway or planned.”
Mr. Driscoll will be leading NYPA as it faces those challenges. Mr. Koelmel said what makes it easier for the transition is that Mr. Driscoll had been a key adviser for the board, which made him “incredibly well-known and incredibly comfortable for all of us as we effect this critically important transition.”
Mr. Driscoll thanked Mr. Koelmel and the trustees for the confidence they placed in him by moving him up to the interim role.
“It’s a great honor to serve as the interim president and CEO of the New York Power Authority,” he said. “As you all know, I’ve been at this table with you for the last 7½ years. The general counsel role is in many ways a behind-the-scenes role, but I’ve been here as an adviser to the board and to senior management. I’ve learned from the board. I’ve learned from my colleagues on executive management. I know the board, I know what makes you tick, how you think, what you want to see from the organization.”
Mr. Driscoll said NYPA is well-positioned for the future.
“Where do we find the organization? We find it in great shape by virtue of Gil’s leadership,” he said.