New York Power Auhority logo




Lou Paonessa Joining Niagara Power Project Staff as Community Relations Manager

Paul DeMichele

October 26, 2007


LEWISTON—Lou Paonessa, a lifelong resident of Western New York with extensive experience in public affairs—most recently as public relations director at Niagara County Community College (NCCC)—has been named community relations manager at the New York Power Authority’s (NYPA) Niagara Power Project.

Beginning on Oct. 30, when he joins the NYPA staff, Paonessa will carry out varied responsibilities that include directing the Niagara Power Vista, the project’s visitors center; representing NYPA on the boards and committees of key area organizations; and interacting with elected officials and other community leaders.

“With Lou’s background in community and public relations and local media, I’m confident he’ll succeed in his new position of managing the Power Vista and its interactive energy exhibits while being one of our principal representatives in the region,” said Roger B. Kelley, NYPA president and chief executive officer. “The Power Authority has a long tradition of civic participation and community service in the areas of its facilities, and this especially applies to our recently relicensed Niagara project. Commitments provided for under relicensing-related agreements will further accentuate our high visibility, and Lou is sure to play an important part.”

“I’m looking forward to working closely with Lou in building on the Power Authority’s strong community ties, which go back to the start of construction of the Niagara project in 1958,” said Horace Horton, NYPA regional manager, Western New York. “We recognize that our responsibilities go beyond generating low-cost power and include supporting the area’s tourism and economy and contributing to the overall quality of life.”

As NCCC public relations director from mid-2004 to Oct. 23, his last day in that position, Paonessa’s responsibilities included media and government relations and development of marketing plans, publications and advertising. He also simultaneously served for a time as the college’s interim foundation director, managing fundraising, including the college’s first major gifts campaign; special events; and alumni relations.  In addition, he taught courses on writing, public relations and broadcasting at the two-year, undergraduate school, which is located in Sanborn and is part of the State University of New York.

Paonessa’s experience has also included serving as a general partner in PR Group, a Niagara Falls public relations and marketing consulting firm; as program and community affairs director at Adelphia Cable in Niagara Falls, where he also worked as a newscaster and did play-by-play sports announcing; and as a sports host at the Empire Sports Network in West Seneca.

At various times, Paonessa, who resides in Niagara Falls, has served on the governing bodies of such organizations as the Niagara Police Athletic League, the Niagara Falls YMCA (past president) and Niagara Catholic Junior-Senior High School.  He has also served on the Mount St. Mary’s Hospital Board of Associates.

Paonessa graduated from St. Bonaventure University in Olean, N.Y., in May 1984 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in mass communications.

He is succeeding Joanne Willmott as the Niagara project’s community relations manager. She retired in September after 31 years at NYPA.

Photo and caption

 About NYPA:

■    NYPA 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 facilities in various parts of the state and more than 1,400 circuit-miles of transmission lines.

Return to Press Center