Gateway on track; Murphy helms NGA; Solar milestone; Fiordaliso gets national post; Peck joins NorthStar

NorthStar Strategies TrueNorth Insights

Gateway gets on track

The Gateway Program, the most consequential and significant transportation infrastructure program in the nation, finally appears poised for substantial progress following two recent significant announcements.

Kolluri to QB GDC

Kris Kolluri, the highly respected former commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Transportation, has been appointed chief executive of the Gateway Development Corporation (GDC).

Kolluri was jointly nominated by New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and New York Governor Kathy Hochul, an announcement that was made by both governors on the stage at the Regional Plan Association’s centennial annual Assembly in Manhattan in early May. Kolluri’s nomination was subsequently approved by the GDC Board of Directors and he is now in the process of building a team that will address myriad project advancement and delivery issues.

If there’s one person we’d want delivering Gateway it would be Kris. He’s a consummate professional, a deft political operator, and a thoughtful leader not afraid to ask tough questions.

Cost sharing MOU

Kolluri begins his new role in the immediate aftermath of another announcement by Murphy and Hochul: that an agreement is in place for New Jersey and New York to share Gateway costs equally. Specifically, the two governors announced last week a memorandum of understanding that has New Jersey and New York evenly splitting the local cost share of “Phase I” of Gateway, which includes the Portal North Bridge and the Hudson tunnels.

The significance of this cost sharing agreement cannot be overstated. Bickering between the two prior governors over who should shoulder the local share of the expense of the new tunnel was exhausting and unnecessary and culminated in Chris Christie’s decision to kill the Access to the Region’s Core (ARC) project in 2010.

“The Gateway Hudson Tunnel Project is vital to the Northeast corridor, and today’s announcement is a critical step forward in turning this vision into reality,” Hochul said.

Murphy stated that the formal agreement “marks a pivotal milestone toward the completion of the most significant transportation project not just in New Jersey, but in the entire United States.”

Murphy helms NGA

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy was elected chair of the National Governors Association (NGA) at that organization’s Summer meeting in Portland, ME.

The NGA, founded in 1908, is a bipartisan association of the leaders of 55 states, territories, and commonwealths across the United States. NGA works on a bipartisan basis to identify solutions that improve citizens’ lives through state government.

“At a time when Americans across the country are eager for bipartisan cooperation, I believe that the NGA has a unique opportunity to achieve progress on critical priorities like public health and economic recovery,” said Governor Murphy. “As NGA Chair, I’m committed to collaborating with the nation’s Governors on bipartisan solutions.”

Murphy will prioritize youth mental health as NGA Chair, with an initiative focused on improving resilience building, reducing mental health stigma, improving access to health care, and providing training for educators and caregivers. First Lady Tammy Murphy will lead an effort to improve maternal and infant health, an issue she has spearheaded in New Jersey.

Murphy is the first New Jerseyan to lead the NGA. He also serves as Vice Chair of the Democratic Governors Association, which has a more political mission. Both positions afford Murphy, New Jersey’s term-limited 56th governor, national exposure as speculation about the 2024 presidential candidate field swirls.

NJ charged up about solar milestone

The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (NJBPU) announced that the state recently surpassed 4 GW of installed solar power, enough to provide electricity to over 500,000 New Jersey households annually.

There are now more than 157,000 solar installations statewide. According to the NJBPU, it is estimated that solar capacity in the state will double in the next four years.

“I am thrilled New Jersey has reached this significant 4 GW milestone,” said NJBPU President Joseph L. Fiordaliso. “New Jersey has been a leader in solar and our solar initiatives are a key part of our clean energy future. Through successful programs like Community Solar, we are ensuring equitable access to clean energy for all New Jerseyans.”

The accomplishment represents a significant step toward achieving Governor Phil Murphy’s goal of 100% clean energy by 2050. It is also a major notch in NJBPU’s belt under the leadership of Fiordaliso père, who has served as President of the Board since Murphy’s election and is the longest serving Commissioner in NJBPU history.

NJBPU remains bullish on solar and plans to implement a wide variety of solar programs throughout the rest of 2022, including:

  • A permanent Community Solar Energy Program: following a two-year pilot program, Board staff is targeting the third quarter of 2022 to issue the permanent program straw proposal. In year one of the pilot program, the Board approved 45 applications representing almost 78 MW in solar energy capacity. In year two of the pilot program, the Board approved 105 projects representing 165 MW of planned solar energy capacity; when fully developed, projects in both years have the cumulative capacity to serve approximately 24,000 low to moderate income subscribers;
  • The Board continues to advance the development of its Competitive Solar Incentive (CSI) Program for grid supply and large net-metered solar. Staff has issued a straw proposal and has held three public comment sessions. Board staff anticipates launching this program later in 2022;
  • The Board will also be working to develop and implement a Dual-Use solar pilot program. Staff anticipates issuing a straw proposal later in the year;
  • The Board will continue to move forward with its Grid Modernization proceeding to solicit ideas for potential improvements to enable faster interconnection and higher levels of distributed energy resource (DER) integration. In June, a draft report was presented at a public meeting with recommendations for interconnection reform, and the Board will continue its work aimed at modernizing the grid in the future.

Fiordaliso fils named to national post

Joseph A. Fiordaliso has been appointed to the Executive Committee of the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC). The appointment, along with Fiordaliso’s simultaneous appointment as President of the National Association of Engineering Council Executives (NAECE) took place at ACEC’s annual convention in Washington DC in May.

ACEC is a federation of 52 state and regional councils with roots dating back more than 100 years. It represents more than 600,000 engineers, architects, land surveyors and other specialists with a mission to strengthen the business environment for member firms through government advocacy, political action, and business education.

“We are very excited to be working with Joe this year,” said ACEC President & CEO Linda Bauer Darr. “He is a proven leader within our federation and his advice and counsel on our Executive Committee as NAECE president will add strategic heft to our decision-making process.”

The American Council of Engineering Companies of New Jersey (ACECNJ) is a member of the ACEC federation.  Fiordaliso has served as President of the New Jersey organization since 2011.

“ACECNJ is very pleased with Joe’s recent appointment,” said ACECNJ Chairman Craig Johnson. “We look forward to his leadership at the national level as President of NAECE and a member of the Executive Committee to make sure that New Jersey has a seat at the table for important discussions regarding the direction of ACEC.”

Serving as NAECE President and a member of ACEC’s Executive Committee will allow Fiordaliso to help chart the strategic priorities of the federation. Fiordaliso has committed to advocating for successful IIJA implementation at the state and federal levels; broader adoption of qualifications-based selection (QBS) procurement by public and private sector clients; and making sure that all ACEC Member Organizations are strong and effective advocates for member firms.

Fiordaliso is in his eleventh year as ACECNJ President. He took the helm of the organization in 2011 and implemented a comprehensive overhaul that stabilized and rebuilt membership. As President, Fiordaliso has forged strong working relationships with key public and private sector owners and re-established ACECNJ’s presence in Trenton as a thought leader and effective advocate for the business interests of A/E firms in the built environment.

Check out a recent interview with Fiordaliso where he discusses his new role and key priorities.

Denise Peck joins NorthStar Strategies

Denise Hart Peck has joined NorthStar Strategies as Manager of Public & Community Outreach.

Peck joins the firm following a distinguished 35-year career with the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT). She is an experienced technician with a deep level of expertise helping to deliver capital infrastructure projects throughout the State of New Jersey. Denise will leverage that expertise to manage client relationships and deliver an essential scope of services to clients and teaming partners through the firm’s Public & Community Outreach practice.

“I am thrilled to be joining NorthStar Strategies to help grow the firm’s Public & Community Outreach practice,” said Denise Peck. “I look forward to putting my experience and knowledge to work for the firm and clients to help deliver critical infrastructure projects.”

Over the course of her NJDOT career Denise worked on hundreds of Federal, State, and Local Aid Projects in a variety of senior positions, delivering essential technical services. During her tenure with the Department’s Right of Way and Access Management unit, Denise served in myriad positions including Team Leader where she managed functions for many projects including the Xanadu Project at the Meadowlands. Denise also served as Real Estate Appraiser for the Rutgers University Football Stadium where she played a key role in fast-tracking the project by completing her scope of work ahead of schedule.

“Denise is a hard working, knowledgeable team player who is an immediate difference maker for NorthStar Strategies,” said firm CEO Joe Fiordaliso. “Our infrastructure resume grows exponentially with her arrival.”

Denise also served as Regional Manager for the Department’s Government and Community Relations unit. In this capacity she managed and delivered essential community outreach services for some of the most consequential and transformative capital projects in a generation, including Route 52 Causeway, Somers Point and Ocean City; Route 72 Manahawkin Bay Bridges, Manahawkin and Ship Bottom; and Route 35 Reconstruction, Point Pleasant Beach, Point Pleasant Borough, Bay Head, Mantoloking, Seaside Heights, Seaside Park, Berkeley.

“Denise and I worked closely on the Route 35 Sandy Reconstruction project and I witnessed her expertise and professionalism firsthand,” said NorthStar COO Jody Herkloz. “She is respected and well-liked by clients and teaming partners alike.”