Most New Jersey environmental advocacy groups have remained supportive of the offshore wind industry. | Wayne Parry/AP Photo

NJ - New Jersey state Senate candidate highly critical of offshore wind recently did work for the industry

Steve Dnistrian said the timing of his work for LS Power Grid and his campaign was “good luck.”

A New Jersey state Senate candidate who has made criticism of offshore wind energy a top plank of his campaign represented a company that sought to build the power lines to bring that wind power ashore.

“Whales and dolphins are dying up and down the Jersey shore,” Steve Dnistrian, a Republican challenging Democratic state Sen. Vin Gopal in the 11th District, posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, from an anti-offshore wind demonstration in March. “Gov. Murphy, listen to the people of NJ. Just put things on pause with offshore wind until we can understand what’s happening to our ocean.”

But just months before, Dnistrian, who runs a branding and strategic communications firm, represented LS Power Grid, which was one of more than a dozen companies vying to build infrastructure — including large power lines — to bring offshore wind energy inland. The lines, which could cost ratepayers billions of dollars but are essential to the Murphy administration’s clean energy goals, would connect the next generation of offshore wind farmsto the existing power grid.

While Dnistrian’s opponent and his supporters charged hypocrisy, Dnistrian said in a phone interview the timing of his work for LS Power Grid and his campaign was “good luck” for him because “I’m very well-briefed on this issue.” Asked if he has acknowledged his work for LS Power Grid on the campaign trail, Dnistrian said he’s cited his experience in the energy sector but said “I don’t mention clients, because I’m under agreements, which is very standard in the business world.”

“My role with LS Power has provided me with an unusual depth of knowledge about this issue to inform the debate and to stop playing politics and just try to be that reasonable center person that people are dying for,” Dnistrian said Wednesday. Dnistrian provided “advisory services” to the company, including an assessment of local opinion on the projects, he said.

Gopal, who in a constituent publication recently expressed opposition to offshore wind projects, slammed Dnistrian for “hypocritical double dealing.”

“If we can not trust that he will honestly discuss a major issue facing our shoreline, and clearly separate his personal financial interests from those of the public, how can families trust him to act in their interests over his own on any of the major issues facing their future? Clearly, he will say and do anything to get elected,” Gopal said in a statement.

New Jersey has approved three wind farms off New Jersey’s coast. But a recent poll showed that while offshore wind energy was not long ago overwhelmingly viewed positively by New Jerseyans, support — while still above water — has plunged amid political polarization of the issue.

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