Jeffrey Grybowski Offshore wind CEO steps down

Source: By Heather Richards, E&E News reporter • Posted: Thursday, July 25, 2019

A driver behind the burgeoning U.S. offshore wind industry, Jeffrey Grybowski, has stepped down from his post as co-CEO at Ørsted A/S, the Danish power company dominating offshore wind proposals along the northeastern coast.

Of the few offshore wind players home grown in the U.S., Grybowski is out in front. The lawyer “stumbled into” the offshore wind industry when he joined Deepwater Wind in the early 2000s, he said in an interview today with E&E News. Within a few years, Deepwater Wind named Grybowski as its CEO. The firm was instrumental in raising the first offshore wind turbines in the U.S. at the Block Island wind project off Rhode Island.

Ørsted acquired Deepwater and Block Island in 2018. Grybowski’s exit from the Danish firm was planned from the outset, he said. He declined to detail his next move.

The $510 million sale was a significant early step in Ørsted’s intrusion into the U.S. offshore market. In July, the company secured part of the largest state contract to date to develop wind power off the coast of New York. In June, Ørsted won New Jersey’s wind solicitation. By 2020, the company will have wind farms in Denmark, the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands, Taiwan and the United States.

Ahead of the Ørsted takeover, Grybowski’s Deepwater Wind was arguably the most successful U.S. developer.

In a New York Times interview in 2016, Grybowski spoke to doubts about offshore wind’s future: “People have been talking about offshore wind for decades in the United States, and I’ve seen the reaction — eyes roll,” he said. “The attitude was, ‘It’s not going to happen; you guys can’t do it.'”

That year, operations at Block Island went live.

Grybowski said he had had mixed feelings about the Danish firm overtaking Deepwater.

“It was an inevitable step in the development of the industry, I think. A small, innovative pioneer company had to find ways to partner with bigger, more experienced, deeper-pocketed players,” he said. “At the end of the day, Ørsted is a great company, a great partner to build out these projects.”

Grybowski leaves Ørsted with a significant reputation in the offshore space.

Thomas Brostrøm, who served as co-CEO with Grybowski after Ørsted acquired Deepwater, called him an “pioneer” whose achievements are well known in the sector.

“I feel very privileged to have been part of it from the very beginning,” Grybowski said of offshore wind. Deepwater’s success at Block Island is at least partly responsible for the boom of offshore wind development activity happening today, he said.

“You are very lucky if you have one opportunity in your lifetime to doing something as meaningful and as special,” he said.

That boom is more than even Grybowski, an evangelist for the industry for 10 years, expected, he said.

Praising Ørsted and its role in “a green energy future for our world,” Grybowski said in a statement today that he had accomplished what he set out to do.

“A decade ago, I started on this quest to establish a prominent place for offshore wind in America’s energy future. Rhode Island provided the leadership with the first project, and I’m proud to say that offshore wind’s time is now here,” he said. “I am honored to have played a role in making that happen.”

Ørsted’s management team will remain the same, minus Grybowski. Brostrøm remains CEO of Ørsted North America; David Hang, another Deepwater alum, is head of project development; and Claus Bøjle Møller is chief operating officer.

Brostrøm said he wished Grybowski success.

“He built an outstanding company at Deepwater Wind, and we thank him for his contributions in helping Ørsted build the leading offshore wind platform in America,” he said.