A WORD FROM THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Donors and friends –
Last month I attended a seminar organized by the American Wind Energy Association in Austin, Texas, where wind energy developers shared information about how to effectively engage with residents of the communities hosting their projects. The seminar participants provided fascinating stories and insights about the widely varying responses of community members to such outreach. Developers are finding that taking the time to listen and learn produces enormous returns in terms of public support for their projects.
The Wind Energy Foundation (WEF) has a unique approach to outreach in rural America, one that we are piloting in wind-rich areas of Texas, Oklahoma, and Nebraska. In WEF’s Rewarded With Wind (RWW) campaign, our focus is not on getting specific projects built but on learning from people, and then amplifying their incredible stories about the positive change that wind energy is bringing to their communities. We are also working to recruit, educate, and mobilize new advocates for wind energy in these communities to help ensure a stable policy environment that will help wind energy to continue to thrive.
When I am asked about WEF’s vision for RWW, I often say “very promising,” and I then point to the “windmap” created by the U.S. Geological Survey. This interactive map shows in striking detail the locations of the more than 1,000 utility-scale U.S. wind farms. These projects, along with the 500 U.S. manufacturing facilities (not shown), are supporting over 100,000 jobs and generating local tax revenues that are improving schools, roads, and emergency services in communities across the country. And this is just the beginning: last month, Navigant Consulting projected that in the next four years, wind power is poised to deliver another 145,000 jobs and $85 billion in economic activity.
Many residents of rural and Rust Belt communities have suffered from years of missed economic opportunities and environmental degradation. Helping those residents pave the way for clean, renewable energy development in their communities is truly gratifying work. Given its technological achievements and cost savings, wind energy is able to compete with other energy sources so long as it has a level playing field in local, state and federal policy processes. With the right amount of dialogue at the local community level, and with effective advocacy by the beneficiaries of wind energy, we can win the policies needed to ensure such even-handed treatment. In this scenario – which we are making a reality – the future of wind energy, and the communities where it is built, is very bright. There are more details on the progress of the RWW campaign in the programmatic update below.
Rewarded with Wind
In its seven-month startup phase, the campaign has recruited 628 supporters across the three states through telephone town halls, education forums, and advocacy webpages. For example, WEF teamed up with the National Wind Institute at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas, to host an event and panel discussion featuring local and national wind industry experts. The event attracted over 75 attendees, including Lubbock Mayor Dan Pope, and helped build our network of advocates who are committed to ensuring the continue growth of wind energy in their regions.
Over 50 local community members attended a RWW event earlier this week in Broken Bow, Nebraska. Local leaders in attendance included Broken Bow’s Mayor, Cecil Burt; Rep. Adrian Smith’s (NE-3) Agriculture Director; the President of the Broken Bow Chamber of Commerce; the President of the Custer County Economic Development Corporation; three County Supervisors; five board members from the Custer County Public Power District; small business owners; and insurance companies and lawyers interested in helping their clients navigate the wind development process. The Custer County Chief will publish an article on the event in next week’s paper.
Electric Nation: Powered by Wind
Electric Nation: Powered by Wind, the first project of the wind industry’s Global Brands Alliance, has reached a major milestone, now surpassing 100,000 followers on the campaign’s Facebook page, many of whom are helping disseminate pro-wind messages to their networks and helping to quash anti-wind misinformation. Included within the Electric Nation community are nearly 4,000 supporters in rural areas with significant wind development. The campaign is continuing to grow this base of supporters, as well as millennials and women 30-55, two demographic groups that have long supported wind energy but have largely been silent on social media.
A Renewable America
A Renewable America, WEF’s flagship campaign, is entering its fourth year of recruiting, training, and mobilizing renewable energy companies and their supply chains to educate the public and key decision makers on the economic benefits of renewable energy. This year, the campaign is work to advance renewable policies in nine states: Ohio, Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Colorado, Nevada, Washington, and Oregon. We are lending support to state policy campaigns focused on strengthening renewable portfolio standards and reforming onerous setback requirements, we are educating members of the Congress and the public about the importance of stable federal renewables policy, and for first time this year, we are educating key decision makers about the many benefits of building transmission and otherwise modernizing the electricity grid.
Upcoming WEF Fundraiser: California Street Party
WEF is hosting its annual fundraiser on Wednesday, May 24th from 6:30-9:00 PM at the Anaheim Convention Center Campus during AWEA’s annual WINDPOWER conference, held this year in Anaheim, CA. This exclusive event will feature live music from Jungle Fire, a local band with a unique Afro Latin Funk sound, and food trucks. The Foundation is seeking company sponsors to ensure the success of this exciting event. Proceeds from the event will support WEF’s efforts to recruit, train, and mobilize the next generation of wind industry leaders and advocates. Many thanks to the following companies that have already agreed to sponsor the event: Akin Gump, Avangrid Renewables, Blattner Energy, Clean Line Energy Partners, EDP Renewables, EDF, Edison Energy, Pattern Energy, and Senvion. If you are interested in sponsorship, send me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org. To purchase individual tickets to the event, visit AWEA’s website