Renewable Energy Advocacy: Forming the Alliance for Clean Energy New York

Several years ago, a rush of renewable energy companies came to New York state to do business. Each one was advocating for standards, rules and policies to help their company grow. No one was speaking on behalf of the industry as a whole, since the association representing independent power producers was more focused on conventional energy companies, and not advocating for renewable energy.

Power Communications realized that the industry could have a more powerful voice if it combined efforts and spoke with one voice. We began reaching out to individual companies and approached them about forming an association.

Power Communications built a coalition and formed it into a not-for-profit called the Alliance for Clean Energy New York. We conducted research and interviewed similar organizations in other states to help define the association’s mission and vision. We hired an executive director, created marketing collateral and media materials, conducted media outreach and held a high-profile press conference to advocate for policies to help grow the renewable energy sector. We also held an event commemorating the 5th anniversary of the first wind farm in New York, where we laid out a 150-foot tall wind turbine and invited 400 elementary students to help form its shape. It was a powerful photo opportunity, attracting media attention for renewable energy across the state.

Nearly 50 companies joined the association, and it is now the leading voice for the renewable energy sector across the country. More importantly, the association has been successful in advancing important legislation to promote renewable energy in New York.

Power Play: Building a New Natural Gas Power Plant

A leading independent power generation developer was trying to build a new natural gas power plant without the benefit of New York state’s power plant siting law, which had expired years earlier. No other developers were building new projects, preferring to wait until a new law was in place to make it easier to build a plant without support from the local community.

Power Communications helped this progressive company stay ahead of the curve and build support for its project before it was officially announced through a transparent process designed to set the company up for success.

We developed a 15-step process, which included a six-month strategic communications plan leading up to the first public meeting. It incorporated presentations, meetings with local economic development leaders and labor leaders, project publicity, phone calls to elected officials, letters to neighbors, and all the collateral material to support the project. We also arranged meetings with editorial boards, key reporters, and targeted environmental groups to introduce the company, its mission and how the project will contribute to environmental quality. Power Communications helped facilitate two community informational open houses and prepared allies for the initial public hearing.

Our strategy of transparency set the project up for success, since the company received support for the project from key community members and elected officials even before it was publicly announced. The company successfully received its permit, thanks to positive comments from 19 out of 24 speakers at the public hearing. The media was also very supportive dedicating a front-page story to the new power plant. In general, there was overwhelming positive support during a time when no one thought a new plant could be approved without the benefit of a power plant siting law.

Start Spreading the News: Introducing a Natural Gas Gathering Pipeline Company to New York

A natural gas gathering pipeline company was starting to do business in New York state, but it lacked experience dealing with the public in the population dense and politically active Northeast. It needed a guide through the permitting and public outreach process – and it needed it fast.

Power Communications developed a strategy to introduce the company to key players locally and in Albany, and focused on building positive relationships in the communities where it was building projects.

Starting from scratch, Power Communications created a suite of messages and marketing materials to help tell the company’s story. It included:

  • Company background
  • Project fact sheets
  • Project safety information
  • FAQs
  • Corporate website

We took those materials and introduced the company to relevant political players at the state and local levels, with in-person meetings in Albany and with local, county and town legislators. We also held editorial board meetings and in-person meetings with reporters. Finally, we prepared extensive information display boards and held informational open houses for the public to open the lines of communication and resolve issues with neighbors.

The company received significant support for its projects from elected officials and community members. In addition, the informational open houses turned enemies into allies and helped successfully resolve landowner negotiations. The company also received positive media attention for its projects and attracted significant financial investment. In the end, Power Communications was able to help this company successfully navigate the challenges of doing business in the notoriously tough New York state.

Going Green: Rebranding an Energy Company into an Environmental Stewardship Company

A power plant development company was having trouble attracting investors and wasn’t viewed positively in local communities where it wanted to do business.

Power Communications analyzed the client’s business as a whole, determined what was important to key stakeholders including local communities, lawmakers, media and investors, and looked at the trends for the future when it comes to energy.

We recommended repositioning the company as an environmental leader and steward, focusing on natural gas generation and renewable energy, including wind and solar power. This required the company to realign its business strategy in order to support their new mission dedicated to increasing North America’s sustainability, both economically and environmentally.

Power Communications helped the company by:

  • Developing a mission statement, encapsulating its business strategy and guiding its decisions moving forward
  • Creating and launching a new website
  • Developing new marketing collateral and media materials
  • Conducting internal communications efforts to train field employees on the company’s new mission and message
  • Holding meetings with key media and investors

The company is receiving tremendous positive attention from all its key stakeholders, including communities, elected officials, media, and the investment community, which has come to the table with new project development money. In fact, when the rest of the industry came to a halt during the recent economic downturn, this company continued to move forward with significant investments in new wind and solar projects.

One reason for this success is that the company’s redefined mission is helping it stand out from other companies during a time when environmental sustainability is increasingly important. What’s more, not only do media and investors think of the company differently, but employees do, too.