Banasiak O’Connor to lead NJOWA, a new offshore wind advocacy organization

Industry-funded group aims to be dedicated, responsive advocate to speak for industry in Trenton and in communities across state

Veteran New Jersey political strategist Paulina Banasiak O’Connor has been named the executive director of the New Jersey Offshore Wind Alliance, a new organization that aims to be a unifying voice for the industry in the state, ROI-NJ has learned.

The group, a consortium of New Jersey offshore wind leaseholders and regional clean energy organizations, will fall under MAREC Action, a regional nonprofit clean energy advocacy organization formally known as the Mid-Atlantic Renewable Energy Coalition.

A formal announcement is expected later Monday.

NJOWA (pronounced “enjay-owah”) is being established out of a recognition that the state of New Jersey’s commitment to the future of offshore wind deserves a dedicated and responsive advocate to speak for industry both in Trenton and in communities across the state, the group said.

Banasiak O’Connor, a former director of legislative affairs for Gov. Phil Murphy and more recently a lobbyist for the Zita Group, brings legislative, executive and private-sector experience. Her background includes work on infrastructure, energy and environmental issues for the state and representing renewable energy clients as a lobbyist.

Her connection and influence in the state goes from one end to the other, as she is a board member for the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority in Atlantic City and the Liberty State Park Design task force in Jersey City.

Banasiak O’Connor said she is eager to take on this new role.

“Gov. Murphy set ambitious offshore wind and clean energy targets for New Jersey,” she said. “I am excited to help in the renewable energy transition and work with the offshore wind industry to ensure sustainability, resulting in economic, public health and environmental benefits for the state.”

About NJOWA and MAREC Action

NJOWA, the New Jersey Offshore Wind Alliance, is a project of MAREC Action and not a distinct legal entity. The Mid-Atlantic Renewable Energy Coalition is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit that aims to be dedicated to the growth of renewable energy technologies that it feels improves the environment, diversifies electricity generation portfolio and boosts economic development in the PJM grid region.

MAREC Action Executive Director Evan Vaughan applauded the announcement, noting that it comes during the same month the state is expected to announce the winners of New Jersey’s third offshore wind solicitation.

“New Jersey has opened an exciting new chapter for the offshore wind industry, and we’re more committed than ever to help write it,” he said. “I’m delighted and honored that Paulina, driven and skilled as she is, agreed to take the helm of this new effort.”

The NJOWA project is made possible entirely through private funds contributed by the seven active offshore wind developers with leaseholding interests off the coast of New Jersey and in the New York Bight, as well as through financial and in-kind contributions from MAREC Action and the American Clean Power Association.

The founding contributors and offshore wind development companies supporting NJOWA are Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind, Attentive Energy, Bluepoint Wind, Equinor, Invenergy, RWE and Vineyard Wind.