A WORD FROM THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Donors and Friends – As we enter a new year that portends significant changes in the federal government’s approach to climate change and other pressing issues, one feature of the American energy landscape remains constant: the excitement that Americans of all political stripes share for renewable energy. Ensuring that both state and federal policy makers support expansion of renewables by finding new and creative ways to communicate that enthusiasm is a key focus of the Wind Energy Foundation (WEF).
As described below, WEF has been quite busy in recent months recruiting, training, and mobilizing people to educate decision makers and the public about renewable energy’s benefits at the local community level. As we have increased the number of business people and other influential stakeholders in our networks, we have become attuned to the challenge of ensuring they are educated and engaged even when there are no in-person events to attend. One of our key strategies for doing so is providing social media tools.
In the past few weeks, WEF concluded its first Renewable America Champions contest, in which we enlisted employees in the renewable energy industry to become active on social media by distributing inspiring messages from our A Renewable America (ARA) advocacy campaign. I am pleased to announce that we now have a grand prize winner. Sarah Bergen from Exact Solar based in Yardley, PA took home the prize – an all-expenses paid trip for her and a friend to a nearby EDPR wind farm, where our hosts will offer a tour of the project as well as a close look at the latest technology via a climb to the top of a wind turbine. Ms. Bergen won the grand prize by circulating 43 messages crafted by our ARA team to her Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn feeds, which generated 22,216 impressions, and by crafting a the best essay among finalists on the power of social media to help expand renewable energy. Congrats to Ms. Sarah Bergen!
A Renewable America campaign update
This flagship WEF campaign capped a successful 2016 by playing important roles in key legislative victories in Illinois and Ohio. In Illinois, Governor Bruce Rauner signed the “Future Energy Jobs Bill” (SB 2814) in mid-December, providing a long-needed fix to the state’s renewable portfolio standard. The ARA campaign arranged meetings and events for renewable businesses to connect with key moderate legislators throughout the year. It also generated 16 pro-renewable placements in key news outlets featuring local business leaders touting the economic benefits of renewables in the state.
In Ohio, the ARA campaign was critical in securing Governor John Kasich’s veto of anti-renewable energy legislation. The bill would have effectively extended the state’s freeze on its renewable energy standard for an additional two years by instituting renewable procurement goals, rather than requirements, for in-state utilities. In the week leading up to the Governor’s decision, ARA delivered a letter signed by 46 businesses from the wind and solar industries requesting a veto. ARA also arranged meetings and phone calls from in-district renewable businesses to key House and Senate members to ensure that the Legislature did not have the votes to override the Governor’s veto. These meetings and calls followed on the heels of: (1) an earlier letter from 68 renewable businesses to legislators requesting an end to the freeze; (2) the in-person testimony of over 60 business leaders at committee hearings on the bill; and (3) 23 pro-renewable media placements during the year. In total, 40 more in-state businesses advocated for ending the freeze in 2016 than had opposed the original freeze bill in 2014, a testament to the success of long-term training and business engagement in the state. In Pennsylvania, ARA arranged meetings for renewable businesses and Representatives Meehan (PA-7) and Costello (PA-6) in mid-December. Both meetings ended with the Representatives expressing interest in taking a leadership role in working with the in-state renewable sector going forward. Similarly in Iowa, ARA succeeded in strengthening relationships with Governor Branstad, Lieutenant Governor Reynolds, Senator Ernst, and Representative David Young (IA-3) and the state’s renewable energy advocates by arranging meetings and pro-renewable events throughout the year. ARA closed the year in Iowa by arranging a meeting for local renewable companies and key Iowa Utility Board staff to discuss a recent Wind Energy Foundation and American Wind Energy Association collaborative report. The report, entitled “The Consumer Benefits of Wind Energy in Iowa,” modeled the development an additional 10 gigawatts of wind power in the state, finding $12.6 billion in consumer savings over 25 years. Additionally, after participating in her first wind farm tour with ARA earlier this year, Senator Ernst was quoted by the local Quad City Times in late December as stating, “What I will be asking is where does [Trump] stand on renewable fuels, where does he stand on renewable energy? This is very important to Iowa with our wind energy ever expanding and creating lots of opportunity in our state.”
This statement is by far the most vocal support that Ernst has given for wind power, and is particularly important given her status as a rising star in the party.
Here is a brief summary of the campaign’s work across seven states in 2016:
- 29 meetings with decision makers
- 201 renewable energy business employees trained at in-person and webinar advocacy events
- 93 localized, pro-renewable earned media placements, including 28 opinion columns authored by local renewable business leaders or decision makers
- 4 state-specific mini reports on the economic benefits of renewables
- 190 renewable business employees participating in a social media contest to share positive news on the renewable industry and amplify our campaign events, meetings, reports, and press work
Electric Nation: Powered by Wind
Rewarded with Wind
Rewarded with Wind (RWW), like ARA, focuses on in-person recruitment, training, and mobilizing of new voices for renewable energy. It differs in that it focuses on very specific geographies: rural communities where wind energy is delivering substantial economic benefits. The campaign has initially focused on key legislative districts in Oklahoma, Nebraska, and Texas. In late 2016, RWW hosted telephone townhalls in each of the three states, with over 10,000 local residents in total dialing in. From these calls, WEF identified 261 individuals demonstrating interest in taking action in support of wind energy. RWW’s first in-person workshop in Enid, OK on January 13, attracted 38 new supporters, despite inclement weather. The campaign will host another event in Oklahoma in the upcoming months, as well as two in-person events in both Nebraska and Texas. Visit www.rewardedwithwind.com for more details on these events as they are finalized.