Powering Progress: Attentive Energy Two Sparks Offshore Wind Dialogue at NJ Association of Counties Conference with Focus on Effective Community Engagement  

By Karen Imas, Senior External Affairs Manager  

May 7, 2024

This year’s New Jersey Association of Counties drew over 200 officials from County governments, featuring panels and discussions on policies enhancing county services. Attentive Energy Two proudly hosted a panel on “Advancing Local Engagement and Economic Opportunity with Offshore Wind.” 

The session focused on pathways of opportunity for communities in New Jersey’s offshore wind industry while emphasizing proactive community engagement, information sharing, and long-term partnerships. Moderated by Favio Germán, the panel included leaders in public service, community revitalization, and small business and workforce development: Timi Lindsay, CEO of Anchor Leadership Solutions; Jennifer Costa, President and CEO of the Elizabeth Chamber of Commerce and Tourism office; Al-Tariq Witcher, Co-Founder of the Returning Citizens Support Group; and Ed Ramsay, Salem County Commissioner, all closely involved Attentive Energy Two’s offshore wind project development. 

Topics explored include environmental justice, industrial transformation, equity and inclusion, and workforce development, as well as the impact that County government can have on project development and community programs related to clean energy. Panelists stressed the critical need for frequent communication and information sharing by developers. “Communication is a big deal. Offshore wind is still a very new industry and largely not understood,” said Commissioner Ramsay. 

Lindsay emphasized, “Communication is about building trust and understanding community needs,” urging developers to engage small communities on various topics and to get granular on those issues that will have direct impacts in neighborhoods. Attentive Energy Two has embraced the message about building meaningful partnership through the creation of two Community Advisory Boards – one representing Gloucester and Salem Counties and one representing Union County, designed to help New Jersey meet its nation-leading offshore wind targets. 

The Boards will also work with Attentive Energy Two’s leadership to create a feedback process to capture local priorities, deploy resources to increase local access to training and workforce pathways, and share information on the development of New Jersey’s offshore wind industry, according to Germán. 

Despite industry hurdles, advocates remain optimistic about economic opportunities for New Jersey businesses and addressing climate change. Costa echoed the importance of frequent information sharing and providing educational opportunities for small businesses that are particularly enthusiastic about procurement opportunities. Costa also highlighted the interest in sustainability on the part of her members in the green energy transition. 

From Newark to Salem, the promise of clean energy is not only a climate imperative but a pathway for inclusive community revitalization. Wichter stressed, “Clean energy should mean affordable energy,” emphasizing the need for community uplift, youth mentorship and building generational wealth in overburdened communities. 

Commissioner Ramsay highlighted longstanding industrial training programs in New Jersey that through South Jersey’s nuclear and chemical industries that can serve as models for the clean energy industry. He envisions Salem County’s industrial reinvention by building off of this legacy while launching new innovative partnerships.  

Lindsay concluded, “Let’s make this work for all of us,” connecting the dots between clean energy opportunities and community benefits, especially in those communities that have struggled with a legacy of air pollution and water contamination.  

Audience members discussed the industry’s future, emphasizing the need for belief in its potential. The glass is half full, panelists and audience members emphasized.