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Gov. Hochul is rejected by NY Senate – again – as Power Authority nom goes down

ALBANY – The state Senate dealt Gov. Kathy Hochul another political blow on Friday by refusing to confirm her preferred pick to lead the New York Power Authority.

Justin Driscoll, the interim chief of NYPA, has faced withering criticism from the political left over his lack of enthusiasm for pushing to expand green energy projects as well as reports of past discrimination against black employees at the nation’s largest state-owned electric utility.

Driscoll lacked the votes to get confirmed in a floor vote, according to a source familiar with the matter.

“NYPA needs a president who cares about environmental justice and labor rights, but Governor Hochul has so far failed to put forward someone who meets that bare minimum,” state Sen. Jabari Brisport (D-Brooklyn) said.

The thwarted gubernatorial move punctuates a bruising six-month legislative session for Hochul that has included the failed nomination of Hector LaSalle as chief judge, a rejected housing plan, and other political setbacks.

Kathy Hochul speaks at a podium in front of a legal library with lots of thick hard covers.

A similar mix of political forces doomed the Driscoll, whose nomination was technically sent to the Senate by the NYPA Board of Trustees, on the final scheduled day of Senate business this year as months ago when Hochul became the first governor to ever have a judicial nomination rejected.

“It’s another unforced error by the Governor, pushing a nominee who was opposed by key Democratic constituencies such as environmentalists and labor unions. At least this time her nominee was spared the humiliation of a public rejection,” an Albany insider told The Post.

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Hochul eventually succeeded in getting liberal Rowan Wilson confirmed as chief judge of the state Court of Appeals.

Driscoll opponents included progressive senators, democratic socialists, and labor groups like 1199 SEIU questioned the wisdom of placing a longtime supporter of Republicans at the help of NYPA, which gained new authority to expand green energy projects in the state budget passed this year.

Kevin Driscoll gesturing while speaking in front of a blue screen with BloombergNEF on it while sitting
Bloomberg via Getty Images

But the rejected nominee will continue to lead NYPA on an acting basis after serving in that role for the past 18 months, according to the Hochul administration.

“Following a national search last year, Governor Hochul recommended Justin Driscoll for President and CEO of the New York Power Authority because he has the expertise to lead the nation’s largest state-owned utility, helping New York to achieve its ambitious climate goals using both NYPA’s existing authorities and its expanded mandate to build renewable energy secured in the FY24 State Budget,” a gubernatorial spokesperson said in a statement.