Industry on the Move

The article below was Published March 2017 in PES Essential.

It seems the US is finally being blown away with the idea of wind power. At last traditional forms of energy are being reviewed and clean, sustainable wind energy is being taken seriously. There is to be a 200 turbine windfarm off the coast of Long Island.

“Today is a big day for clean energy in New York and our nation. Governor Cuomo has set a bold vision for a clean energy future, and this project is a significant step toward making that a reality. The South Fork Wind Farm will be the second offshore wind farm in America, and it’s largest. There is a huge clean energy resource blowing off our coastline just over the horizon, and it is time to tap into this unlimited resource to power our communities.” said Deepwater Wind CEO, Jeffrey Grybowski, in an empowering speech following the approval of a revolutionary project.

In light of much discussion over climate change, it has become imperative to reassess conventional forms of energy sources such as fossil fuels and make changes. There is a need to provide energy that is replenished naturally, offers climate change mitigation, and adds economic benefits on various levels. In response to this effort, the Long Island Power Authority Board has just recently granted approval for the construction of what will be one of the United States’ largest renewable projects yet. This is a project that will re-invent the way that renewable energy is utilized; opening doors for more just like it to come.

In accordance with a recent article published by the New York Times titled, “Nation’s Largest Offshore Windfarm Will Be Built off Long Island,” the official project, developed by Deepwater Wind, will be lodged between the eastern tip of Long Island and Martha’s Vineyard, spanning about 256-square-miles. Consisting of approximately 200 turbines, the production of this wind farm will allow for the fueling of 50,000 homes.

How will the landscape look? These turbines are anticipated to be about 600 feet tall, and will be connected to a substation in East Hampton by a 50-mile undersea cable. Though talk of opposition has occurred regarding visibility of the wind farm, Deepwater has reassured individuals that it will be extremely minimal, if noticeable at all, from the coasts of both Long Island and Martha’s Vineyard.

As stated on their company website, Deepwater claims that traditional power plants burn fossil fuels and produce harmful pollutants that are associated with several negative impacts on our environment and public health. However, they assure readers that offshore wind is a clean and plentiful energy source that will help displace fossil fuels, while improving the cleanliness of the air that we breathe.

Deepwater reveals that this project will make for a great number of high paying jobs, benefitting local companies tremendously. This is because the number of individuals needed to build and operate this project includes the expertise of environmental services’ companies, scientists, marine biologists, engineers and tradespeople. Ultimately, when the project generates power locally, it will provide jobs locally.

Another aspect of Deepwater’s proposal is a keen awareness and protectiveness of wildlife. Often, public opposition regarding renewable projects is focused on potential harm to wildlife, which is why it is so refreshing to see a renewable company take such pride in protecting the environment. Deepwater has demonstrated this by partnering up with several environmental advocates, conservationists and scientists, to protect endangered whales and other marine-mammals during pre-construction and construction of the project.

Within the last decade, the company has experienced an exceeding number of technological advances, including hugely lowering the costs of building and servicing. Because offshore wind is strongest in the middle of the day and early evening, when electricity is utilized the most, the clean energy plants will help stabilize electric rates. The new development will ultimately provide hundreds of thousands of individuals with a cost effective and clean source of energy.

Though Deepwater has been granted approval for the construction of this breakthrough project, which will in fact open doors for more like it to come, that doesn’t mean that the opposition to offshore wind will come to a halt. In fact, future wind proposals, whether on-shore or off, will most likely continue to move steadily until acted upon by an external force. Public comment, regulatory hearings, or stakeholder input could exemplify this. However, to ultimately gain the approval that Deepwater was able to secure, there are many convincing tactics a company can use to conduct public outreach and ask members of the community to voice their support for other renewable projects.

Maintain a Consistent Image

Projects can be negatively affected due to conflicting information on a development, or just an overall lack of consistency in messaging. The voice should be unchanging throughout communications, across all platforms, to create the feeling that all audiences are listening to the same company representative. By nailing down a uniform voice, companies can more easily approach negative feedback, as an opportunity to educate individuals, on the merits of the wind project, without elevating opponents’ positions.

Develop a Project-Specific Presence Online

The Internet has become an asset in promoting projects, ideas and virtually anything facing opposition. It is critical that when trying to gain approval for a project, a website (or at the very least a landing webpage) devoted to the proposal, is created. This will allow companies to present the facts and offer resources to educate community members and to learn more about the proposed project.

On this website or webpage, companies should include a place where local residents can sign up as advocates for the wind proposal, as well as a place where supporters can take action instantly. With a form letter that viewers can sign onto by filling out their name, email address and zip code, your website can become an epicenter of support. These letters can then be emailed straight from the user’s own email address directly to public officials automatically, allowing supporters to voice their support with a single click whether in a line at the grocery store or on the go.

Social Media/Digital

Using web ads is a cost-effective way to gain attention on a company’s project website. Web ads on local news websites allow for companies to geo-locate target audiences and produce ads that will reach only potential voters while people scroll through daily news. Web ads can link to the website, with measurable click through rates, while ads on social media platforms can have objectives that increase page likes, engagement and more.

Additionally, ads on social media outlets can target, by interest in environmentally friendly causes or groups, within a geographic region, for wider awareness and online engagement of support. Key performance indicators of social media ads include cost per video view, cost per page like and more to ensure the best use of an advertising budget. When calls to action are placed on the website or social media platform to which members of the audience are driven, a flood of conversions will occur from those who take the next step to complete the requested action.

Leverage Stakeholder Support

Stakeholder involvement from groups or organizations with missions or platforms that align with the project is key in gaining project approval. In many cases, finding these sponsors can involve making a presentation to the membership or just a simple one-on-one meeting with the leadership to discuss the benefits of the proposal. Renewable proposals come with incredible opportunities to gain third-party support, to help validate benefits in the media, on the internet and at public hearings.

The Long Island Wind Farm project approval brings hope for a more amenable response from citizens and public officials to help new wind proposals gain momentum. By utilizing some of the tools listed above throughout the United States and beyond, more efficient approvals could indeed be possible, saving companies’ time and money. As a field or sea of wind turbines gains a more positive image in the eyes of the public, it will become a widely recognized symbol of clean, affordable and sustainable energy with which to provide electricity for buildings and transportation.