Global wind capacity is set to double by 2027, and the United States is in the midst of the most lucrative time to increase production of wind energy. Renewable companies are fueled by an urgency to capture tax subsidies and currently in many parts of the country; wind is the cheapest source of new electric generating capacity.
Even with the many environmental benefits of wind farms over traditional sources, wind still faces opposition across the U.S., especially in rural areas. South Dakota has been expecting dramatic growth in wind energy production for some time now, but the contentious debates surrounding the approval of new wind farms has created a drift between residents and caused the state to lag.
Although in most cases wind turbines will create a minimal impact on the landscape, some residents feel the turbines are too unsightly, loud, and disruptive to wildlife, ignoring the many benefits, such as tax revenue, the project will bring to the state and local communities.
Despite the local opposition, there has been recent good news from the federal government for offshore wind projects, as the Trump administration announced it is pushing ahead with building wind turbines off the Atlantic coastline. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has already requested input on which parts of the U.S. Atlantic present the greatest chance for leasing by offshore developers. Still, it has not always been smooth sailing for offshore projects which have faced many problems in the past competing with their onshore counterparts.
Opponents often resist offshore wind farms because they will spoil views of the ocean, endanger wildlife, and harm fishing and tourism. However, some view offshore projects as a trade-off of sorts if able to build wind farms farther offshore, lessening the public’s concern about seeing turbines close to the coast.
Companies seeking to bring new on-shore and offshore wind projects to function in the US will need to develop a targeted communications campaign to promote the projects, build public support and avoid further delays that waste time and money. Here are some tactics to consider in an integrated communications plan to build public support and educate residents on any wind project:
Educate your stakeholders
Including local and regional stakeholder groups in your project discussion is critical. Stakeholders go beyond landowners, though their support is also essential. Stakeholders can include a variety of people and groups, such as former elected officials, chambers of commerce, downtown business groups, neighborhood groups, civic and nonprofit groups, and even education committee organizations. Start by reaching out to these groups to set up presentations to members or meetings with leadership.
There are many ways stakeholders can help amplify messaging through newsletters, email blasts, social media engagement, events and more. Local elected officials like to see community outreach. It is important to engage stakeholders to activate their contacts as part of the grassroots efforts as these groups can amplify messaging and enhance support in a meaningful way through coordinated calls to action.