NYPA’s Gil Quiniones: A recognized leader in the battle vs climate change

Quiniones helps harvest fresh produce at the opening of NYPA’s first Hydroponic Food Laboratory located at the Uprose Community Center in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.

By Cristina DC Pastor

One of the chief advocates of New York State’s conversion to electric vehicles (EV) is Gil Quiniones, an Iowa-born engineering graduate from the Philippines.

As president and CEO of the New York Power Authority (NYPA), the largest state-owned electric utility in the country, Quiniones is leading the battle against climate change and paving the way for a decarbonized New York. With his high position in government and many achievements, he has become one of the state’s “most influential” Filipino American.

“I’m thrilled to be at the center of it,” he said when interviewed by The FilAm. “As a Filipino American, I’m very proud because there are not a lot of FilAms in state government. It is good to be able to represent our ethnicity, our background and our culture.”

One of NYPA’s key initiatives is e-Mobility: decreasing greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles through electrifying them.  New York has joined with seven other states, including California, Rhode Island, and Maryland, to battle global warming and promote a ‘green’ economy.

The mandate is that in 14 years, all cars, trucks, and public buses in the Empire State should be electric.

“By 2035 all vehicles sold in New York State will have to be electric,” he said. “All cars, trucks and buses will be required to be what they call Zero emission vehicles. That is our priority.”

Outside his Manhattan apartment. One of the ‘most influential’ FilAms in N.Y. State.

NYPA’s efforts include the construction of fast-charging stations in major cities and around commuter rail stations. The goal is to develop up to 800 fast-charging stations along major highways by the year 2025. Right now, about 100 such stations are up and running or in construction. “We still have a long way to go, but there is a lot of excitement about achieve this necessary goal,” he said.

His organization, NYPA, is addressing “range anxiety” by spacing the fast-charging stations 50 miles apart so that New Yorkers “can drive electric with confidence.” He explained, “If you are an owner of an EV, you want to make sure you have a place to plug and recharge your vehicle.”

New York City is working with NYPA to construct fast-charging stations at municipal lots and garages in all five boroughs as well as building lower speed charging for apartment dwellers and commuters. Other big cities, such as Buffalo, Rochester, and Albany, are getting their own charging stations.  At the same time, NYPA is helping the MTA and other transit agencies to convert their bus fleets to electric.

“To make electric vehicle an easier and simpler choice, we are building a lot of regular, not necessarily fast, chargers around commuter rail stations where people can leave their cars, get on a train to work, and come back to their cars fully charged,” he said. A vehicle takes anywhere from 5 to 8 hours to fully charge in a regular station, and only 20 minutes in a fast-charging location.

NYPA has partnered with third-party operators to install and operate the chargers. While these super-fast chargers do cost money, they are on par with the price of gasoline in New York—equivalent to approximately $3.50/gallon, he said.

Born in Iowa

Quiniones was born in Iowa in the 1960s, the youngest of four children all of them accomplished professionals. Lily, the eldest, is an ophthalmologist in New Jersey; Sebastian Jr. is a general manager at Shell Philippines; Bessie is a pulmonary & critical care doctor; and Gil is a mechanical engineer who is a recognized authority in the U.S. on power and energy issues. Gil is the only American-born among the siblings.

With wife Paula, a social worker, and teen daughter Sela.
With Ernie.

The family lived in the Hawkeye State while their parents were scholars at Iowa State University.

When he was 4, his family returned to the Philippines because his parents were accepted into research fellowships at UP Los Banos. His father worked as a plant pathologist, and his mother was then completing her doctoral degree. “My parents were always working as professors and researchers,” he said.

It was in the Philippines where Quiniones received his education from elementary to college.

After earning a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from De La Salle University, he returned to the U.S. in the late 1980s. He completed graduate courses in engineering management and technology management at the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey, and attended executive education programs at the Columbia University Business School. He worked for a small energy consulting firm after college, before joining public utility company Consolidated Edison where he worked for 16 years as an energy engineer.

“At Con Ed, my role expanded,” Quiniones said. He and three colleagues co-founded Con Ed Solutions, a retail energy supply and services company. He stayed with Con Edison until 2003, or two years after 9/11.

Quiniones was then asked to join the administration of New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, becoming  the city’s chief consultant on energy policy. It was his first public sector appointment. He established and led Bloomberg’s Energy Policy Task Force, described as a “public-private group that developed a comprehensive strategy for meeting New York City’s future energy needs.”

He served in that role for four years before joining NYPA in 2007. He rose through the company from executive vice president, to chief operating officer, eventually becoming president and CEO.

Quiniones has known the recently inaugurated Governor Kathy Hochul for many years.  “NYPA worked with her very closely when she was lieutenant governor,” he shared. “She is a big supporter of building infrastructure to help accelerate the pace for EV adoption, solar and wind power, energy storage, modernizing the electricity system.

(C) The FilAm 2021

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