Former Murphy advisor to head government affairs for Ørsted

Daniel J. Munoz//August 24, 2021

Former Murphy advisor to head government affairs for Ørsted

Daniel J. Munoz//August 24, 2021

Kathleen Frangione, a former advisor for Gov. Phil Murphy, will head government affairs at Ørsted North America–one of the two companies developing a pair of massive wind energy projects in the state, Orsted announced on Aug. 24.

Frangione was previously chief policy advisor for Murphy, after which she left to work for internet retail giant Amazon as head of environmental policy. At Ørsted, she will essentially be the government affairs representative, as the Danish-based company navigates the complex sea of regulations.

She’ll handle the company’s “commitment to workforce development, domestic infrastructure investment and a sustainable offshore wind industry,” and build “strategic partnerships with local, state and federal officials,” according to an Aug. 24 statement.

Catch the wind

Despite the promise of the state’s offshore wind industry – there are two wind farms in the works that will total nearly 3,800 megawatts of capacity – plans laid out by the Murphy administration face a number of roadblocks. Should they succeed, the state will have 7,500 megawatts of offshore wind capacity by 2035, which proponents say is much cleaner than fossil fuels and could power more than 3.2 million New Jersey homes.

Ørsted has full rights to develop the first project, called Ocean Wind, which will have 1,100 megawatts of capacity once completed. Then in June, state regulators approved Ørsted’s application for the 1,148-megawatt “Ocean Wind 2” project and the 1509-megawatt Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind, a joint venture between Shell New Energies US LLC and EDF Renewables, making it the nation’s largest offshore wind farm.

“As New Jersey has shown, investing in offshore wind projects has multiple benefits for our nation – from creating thousands of new jobs, to helping us in the fight against climate change,” reads a statement earlier this month from U.S. Sen Cory Booker, a Democrat.

Republicans and business groups warn that the costs of building the plants and transmission lines will be passed onto residents in the form of higher electricity bills. A bill that passed both the state Senate and Assembly would give utility companies and other related entities eminent domain, allowing them to supersede the input of local governments when determining where to build power lines bringing electricity from offshore.

“Granting authority to private developers to site transmission infrastructure on lands preserved for future generations with tax-payer support should be a last resort,” reads a June letter signed jointly by New Jersey Conservation Foundation, the Monmouth Conservation Foundation the Watershed Institute, the Pinelands Preservation Alliance, and the New Jersey Highlands Coalition.

The prospect of hundreds or thousands of towering offshore wind turbines constructed in some of the East Coast’s most prime fishing grounds has also left many worried in the commercial and recreational fishing industry about the effects of the new structures.