The New York Power Authority approved John Koelmel, an Erie County resident and president of First Niagara Financial Group, as its new chairman.

NYPA is the nation’s largest public power entity, operating 17 generating facilities and over 1,400 circuit-miles of transmission lines.  NYPA is overseeing Gov. Cuomo’s “energy highway” initiative to upgrade the state’s aging power infrastructure system.  Bottlenecks in the state’s power transmission system are keeping upstate producers, including power plants in Western New York, from being able to transport the electricity to power-hungry communities in the New York City area.

Given the importance of NYPA and its projects to our region, it’s nice to see a Western New Yorker at the helm of the organization.   NYPA is an important economic development and job development entity, and we hope that he will find more ways to help the authority contribute to the region.