New Nonprofit to Enhance Equitable Access to Clean Energy Jobs in Middlesex County and across NJ

New Nonprofit to Enhance Equitable Access to Clean Energy Jobs in Middlesex County and across NJ

Diversifying NJ’s Offshore Wind Industry a Key Priority With $1 Million Founding Grant from Rise Light & Power

For Immediate Release
August 24, 2022

Photo caption

(Pictured from left to right): Dr. Frederick Williams, superintendent of South Amboy Public Schools; Rev. William Coleman (Mercer County); Rev. Simeon Spencer (Mercer County); Jamal Reynolds (Essex County); Al-Tariq Witcher (Middlesex/Essex counties); Robert Langley (Mercer County); Rev. Ronald Tuff (Essex County); Dan Smith, NJ Offshore Equity CDC attorney; Richmond Young, Director of Development, Rise Light & Power; Sid Nathan, Vice President of External Affairs, Rise Light & Power.

Today, a new faith-based community development corporation (CDC) announced plans to implement workforce and training programs in Middlesex County and throughout New Jersey that increase job opportunities in the offshore wind industry among Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC).

A major focus of New Jersey Offshore Wind Workforce and Equity Community Development Corporation (“NJ Offshore Equity CDC”) will be diversifying employment in New Jersey’s blossoming clean energy industry — especially as the state’s offshore wind energy production expands — to ensure that accessible, equitable, and high-quality job opportunities reflect the state’s workforce. A Memorandum of Understanding was signed today formalizing the partnership with founding funder Rise Light & Power. The collaboration was celebrated at the former Werner Generating Station in South Amboy that Rise proposes to develop into an offshore wind hub.

NJ Offshore Equity CDC encourages other developers to join the partnership to ensure New Jersey’s offshore wind workforce reflects the state’s rich diversity. 

“Clean energy, and offshore wind power, in particular, offers the prospect of good-paying jobs in emerging industries,” said Dr. Joseph E. Woods, chair of NJ Offshore Equity CDC’s founding board of trustees. “It’s important for everyone in the community to have an opportunity to secure those jobs.” 

The board of trustees includes Dr. Joseph E.  Woods (Chair), Mr. Al-Tariq Witcher (Vice Chair), Mr. George McConnell (Treasurer), Reverend Simeon Spencer (Secretary), Reverend Ronald Tuff (Executive Director), Reverend William Coleman, Minister Aubrey Mollinedo, Mr. Robert Langley, Mr. Israel Segara, and Mr. Allan McPherson. They will oversee, govern, and manage grant funds to support education and technical assistance to enhance the development of New Jersey’s clean energy workforce beginning with a focus on Middlesex County, the most diverse county in New Jersey, according to recent U.S. Census Bureau data. The board anticipates growing and including additional members.   

Planned activities include:

  • Developing and implementing an action plan to identify and prioritize programs addressing obstacles to meaningful employment in the offshore wind industry 
  • Establishing and strengthening partnerships with key organizations and institutions
  • Identifying and applying for grant funding

Dr. Woods announced that Rise commits to contribute $1 million to NJ Offshore Equity CDC to help address racial workforce barriers if the company receives state approval to construct the Outerbridge Renewable Connector inSouth Amboy.  The planned project would deliver electricity from offshore wind farms to the state’s power grid, powering up to 1.4 million homes in New Jersey. 

“New Jersey’s faith community has long been a champion for creating economic opportunities, especially for BIPOC communities,” said Rise CEO Clint Plummer. “We look forward to working with these experienced leaders as they break down barriers, sustain collaborations, and administer a variety of programs to expand the state’s offshore wind workforce to enhance equitable access to good-paying jobs.” 

“Rise’s partnership with NJ Offshore Equity CDC is one of the company’s many proposed initiatives to help eliminate racial and ethnic workforce inequities among BIPOC communities across New Jersey who deserve opportunities to contribute to the state’s clean energy future,” Reverend Coleman said.

In connection with its Outerbridge project, Rise has committed to establishing vendor agreements that include hiring expectations to increase the proportion of BIPOC workers and formerly incarcerated individuals in the offshore wind industry.

“As a formerly incarcerated person, I know how transformative it is when doors open and there is help to alleviate workforce reentry barriers,” Vice Chair Witchersaid. “That’s our goal—offering equitable job opportunities to hard-working people who are seeking a fresh start to lead a successful, productive life and contribute their skills and talent to this budding industry.”

GreenFaith, an international, interfaith environmental organization founded in New Jersey, has also supported the organizing and establishment of the NJ Offshore Equity CDC.

“For too long, black and brown communities have not had fair access to jobs in the green economy,” said Rev. Tuff, NJ Offshore Equity CDC Executive Director and GreenFaith’s New Jersey organizer. “This CDC will help change that.”

Rise also plans to deploy the Jingoli Competitive Edge Program, which includes summer employment and career readiness opportunities for youth and adults as well as a “train-to hire” program associated with the proposed Outerbridge project; and collaborating with Middlesex College to develop workforce readiness programs focused on the offshore wind industry.

A recent report by the Applied Economics Clinic identified numerous barriers to green jobs that perpetuate existing inequities in the state’s clean energy workforce, including lack of education and experience and institutional and access barriers. It noted that Black residents comprise about 15% of New Jersey’s population yet only 9% of the state’s clean energy workforce.

“BIPOC communities not only face more health and climate impacts from air pollution but also fewer job opportunities from dirty energy. Investing in clean energy and focusing on offshore wind workforce development and placement in these overburdened communities will be a trifecta of cleansing our lungs, reversing climate change, and creating economic opportunities for those underserved,” said Kim Gaddy, National Environmental Justice Director, Clean Water Action. “Partnerships like this will be game changers.”

Outerbridge, planned on the site of a former coal-fired power plant on Raritan Bay in South Amboy, is one of several proposals before the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) to transmit energy from offshore wind turbines to the state’s electric grid. A BPU decision is expected in October.

“Our board members are committed to working with Rise, unions, and other community entities willing to provide BIPOC communities opportunities to be trained and obtain apprenticeships and a realistic chance to become union members through transparent processes,” Langley said. 


Sign up to receive project updates