Ørsted bringing on Porrino in signal it intends to fight back against $300M it could owe state

Former AG, now partner at Lowenstein Sandler, is considered one of best litigators in state

Chris Porrino. (File photos)

Chris Porrino, a former attorney general for the state of New Jersey and one of the top litigators in the state, has been hired by Ørsted — seemingly ensuring the state’s efforts to get $300 million from the offshore wind developer will not happen without a strong legal fight.

Porrino, a partner and chair of the Litigation Department at Lowenstein Sandler, did not immediately respond to a request for comment — but he is listed as counsel of record on several documents involving Ørsted and the state.

Here’s the background on the situation.

Ørsted surprised nearly everyone Tuesday night when it announced it would not be going forward with its Ocean Wind 1 and Ocean Wind 2 projects.

Gov. Phil Murphy, incensed by the decision, said the state would hold Ørsted to two major financial obligations:

  • $200 million: Which Ørsted deposited in an escrow account this fall for the purpose of helping to build New Jersey’s offshore wind supply chain manufacturing facilities;
  • $100 million: A performance guarantee attached to the commercial delivery of Ocean Wind 1 that Ørsted agreed to in return for getting the ability to access more federal incentives. Ørsted obviously is no longer in position to meet a delivery schedule.

The fact that a dispute over these totals would result in a legal battle was expected; Murphy said as much earlier Friday.

“They have, in two separate buckets, $300 million that we’re going to fight like hell to keep,” he said. “I assume it’s going to be a legal battle by them. But they didn’t do what they said they were going to do, and we’re going to make them pay for that.”

The hiring of Porrino shows how serious the battle will be.

Porrino served as the state’s attorney general at the end of former Gov. Chris Christie’s second term. He had previously served as the chief counsel to Christie.

The Murphy administration is familiar with Porrino’s skillset — he was hired by them in the fall of 2018 to represent the Governor’s Office in connection with a legislative inquiry into an alleged sexual assault and certain hiring practices.

Porrino, who has worked in both the public and private sectors for more than a decade, has a number of notable accomplishments.

As attorney general, took forceful action against anti-Semitism and other forms of discrimination — and he pioneered the country’s strictest opioid prescribing rules, paving the way for an almost immediate and very steep reduction in the number of opioid painkillers prescribed by physicians in New Jersey.