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New NYPA Trustee's Confirmation Returns Famous Name to Power Authority Board

Michael Saltzman

March 1, 2006


WHITE PLAINS—For Robert E. Moses, a Syracuse attorney, sharing the first and last names of a transformative figure in New York State’s modern history has long been a source of mild amusement.

The occasional attention that Moses has gotten for this may increase given the additional coincidence that he is now serving on the board of the New York Power Authority (NYPA), one of the organizations that Robert Moses, New York’s “master builder,” headed during a remarkable career in public service that spanned five decades, from the 1920s to the 1960s.

On Tuesday, the New York State Senate confirmed Governor George E. Pataki’s nominations of Moses and Thomas W. Scozzafava of St. Lawrence County to the NYPA board.

“This is certainly an interesting turn of events, now serving on the very same board that Mr. Moses headed decades ago,” said Robert E. Moses, who was not named for and is not related to the man whose name became synonymous with major public works projects, including parks, beaches, highways, bridges, tunnels, housing, and power plants.

Among the projects the earlier Moses spearheaded were the giant hydroelectric generating facilities on the St. Lawrence and Niagara Rivers completed by the Power Authority during the time that he served as its chairman, from 1954 through 1962.

“There were times when Moses was still alive when I would get phone calls meant for him, and he’d get my calls,” said the Syracuse attorney, who was a partner with the firm of Bond, Schoeneck & King, PLLC, until December 31, 2004. “When Robert Caro’s book about Moses, ‘The Power Broker,’ came out in the mid-70s, I was determined to read it so I could defend the family name.”

While the Robert Moses of Caro’s book may have been a controversial figure, it is indisputable that he left a lasting legacy for New York State, including the two hydroelectric projects, whose low-cost power serve as bulwarks for the economies of Northern and Western New York, supporting tens of thousands of jobs.

“I’ve long appreciated the significance of those two projects, as someone who has been immersed in economic development issues for many years,” said Robert E. Moses, who has worked with industrial, institutional and municipal clients on energy-cost-saving alternatives. He has also been a member of the New York State Economic Development Council for 25 years, serving as chairman of its legislative committee for several years, and worked in support of Governor Pataki’s 1996 Clean Water/Clean Air Bond Act, which has provided $1.75 billion in funding for projects benefiting the environment.

“My experience has been that environmental goals are achievable without sacrificing economic development or a reliable energy system,” Moses said. “In fact, today’s advanced energy technologies make all three attainable, as Governor Pataki has proved with policies in support of energy efficiency and clean, renewable power generation. I appreciate the opportunity he’s provided in appointing me to an organization that is undertaking major initiatives in these areas.”

Indeed, the Power Authority’s focus, as it marks its 75th year, has changed from the grand-scale projects emblematic of the Robert Moses era of the mid-20th century. And it now has another Robert Moses to help lead it in a new direction, as it undertakes projects involving energy efficiency and clean generating technologies such as fuel cells and solar power, and in introducing clean electric-drive vehicles.

About NYPA

The New York Power Authority uses no tax money or state credit.  It finances its operations through the sale of bonds and revenues earned in large part through sales of electricity. NYPA is a leader in promoting energy-efficiency, new energy technologies and electric transportation initiatives. It is the nation’s largest state-owned electric utility, with 18 generating plants in various parts of the state and more than 1,400 circuit-miles of transmission lines. 

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