A WORD FROM THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Donors and friends-
I recently returned from Hamburg Germany, where I participated in the Global Brands Summit, a meeting of over two dozen top communications executives of global renewable energy companies. Our focus was the brand of wind energy. Poll after poll shows that large majorities of people love wind power, but only a small percentage take actions to help grow this clean energy source. The meeting provided an opportunity for the Wind Energy Foundation (WEF) to discuss the initial results of Electric Nation: Powered by Wind, our new wind energy branding campaign, which has recruited a following of 30,000 strong (and growing) to share the good news about wind energy using social media. We also learned about similar efforts underway in Europe. The group identified key next steps for helping our allies to increase their understanding of, and emotional connection to wind energy and how to strengthen their engagement in the public debate over our energy future.
A Renewable America campaign update
A Renewable America (ARA), WEF’s flagship education and outreach campaign, is working with developers, suppliers and purchasers of renewable energy to deliver the good news about renewable energy in seven key states in 2016. A key focus of the work has been organizing tours of renewable energy facilities and business roundtables for key decision makers.
For example, in July, ARA arranged a tour of the Vestas wind turbine manufacturing facility in Pueblo, Colorado, for Senator Cory Gardner and staff. The local newspaper had positive words from Sen. Gardner about the tour, and the Senator later expressed his enthusiasm for wind energy through his Twitter account. ARA helped generate 54 re-tweets and likes on the Senator’s post, and a “thank you” tweet was generating by 22 members of our Renewable America Champion network (comprised of renewable business employees). Due to our efforts, more people engaged with Senator Gardner on renewable energy via his Twitter account than virtually any other topic in recent months.
In August, ARA organized Senator Joni Ernst’s first wind farm tour in Crawford County, Iowa. Senator Ernst indicated she was “blown away” by the tour, which was also covered by the local Denison Bulletin.
In Ohio, ARA organizers arranged several meetings for key Ohio state legislators and administration officials to discuss the wind setback rule and frozen Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards. We helped organize a tour of First Solar’s manufacturing facility in Perrysburg as well as business roundtables in Cleveland and Akron, where a dozen local wind and solar companies helped to communicate about the importance of strong renewable energy policies. President Pro Tempore, Larry Ohbof attended with Akron tour of Aerotorque, a growing wind industry supply chain company.
ARA previously had worked with Aerotorque earlier in the year to publish an opinion column in the Akron Beacon Journal in support of ending the freeze and fixing the setback. AWEA’s Michael Goggin also travelled to Columbus to present a collaborative WEF/AWEA report on the cost-saving benefits of fixing those two policies by the end of 2016 to the heads of the OH EPA, PUC, and key staff from Governor Kasich’s office. Local consultants, in collaboration with wind developer Avangrid, used a Google Earth mapping tool at the meetings to demonstrate how the current setback rule essentially precludes future wind development in the state.
In Texas, ARA arranged a series of meetings between renewable energy leaders and the Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives Joe Straus and the staff of Governor Greg Abbott and Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick on the economic benefits of wind and solar development in the state. Texas has more wind projects under construction than any state, and expects to see significant growth in both wind and utility-scale solar energy in the coming years.
Finally, ARA has now completed ten advocacy training workshops for renewable energy executives and employees around the country, along with two social media webinars. Check out my recent blog post on the importance of helping renewable energy company employees and other community influentials become more effective advocates.
Rewarded With Wind
WEF is proud to announce the launch of a new education and advocacy campaign, Rewarded With Wind (RWW), carried out in partnership with American Wind Action. RWW focuses on educating and mobilizing wind energy technicians, farmers and ranchers, county commissioners, and other residents of the rural communities where wind energy is being built. During the current pilot phase, RWW is operating in Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska. Over time our work will gradually expand to other states with valuable wind energy resources.