We didn’t make this up. The title of this national organization’s article is “….tactics for wind developers to protect their bottom line”. We would like to point out that they failed to list #6= MANAGE LEGISLATORS, like Senator Cliff Hite in Ohio, who is a BigWind champion. Once again the message is clear, this industry has nothing to do with actually generating affordable, reliable, dispatchable energy- because they do NOT accomplish any of those 3 goals. The objective of this industry is to accumulate cash, at the expense of the American taxpayer. How? Read our home page. This is accomplished by avoiding taxes, through PILOT programs and tax credits….dozens of them. Each industrial wind site is worth hundreds of millions in cash to the developer, even before the turbines begin spinning. How do you like being ‘managed with tactics’? Who will lose in the end? The American taxpayer, American companies, American residents who are forced to live near these industrial sites….Anyone who has worked in wind energy development has likely seen how community relations can make or break a project. A small group of motivated opponents can put experienced developers on the defensive, create costly delays and, ultimately, threaten a project’s existence….
Developers seeking to prevent conflict and minimize local opposition need a community relations plan based on clear, honest and responsive communication. Proactive outreach and relationship-building can make a huge difference in eliminating the public’s uncertainty about a project, diffusing opposition, and building trust between a developer and the local community….
There is no one-size-fits-all plan for community relations, but there are best practices that can benefit any project. The following are five key community relations tactics that every project should follow.
1. Don’t try to hide
Many developers prefer to avoid attracting attention, hoping that that they won’t have to deal with the public…
Project owners and developers should establish themselves as the primary source of information about their project. If they don’t, neighbors will happily fill in the blanks with rumors, assumptions and worst-case scenarios they find on the internet. The longer you stay silent, the more misinformation you’ll have to overcome.
2. Do your homework
Every community has its own values, influencers and hot-button issues. Before a company starts working in a new area, it needs to understand what life is like for the people living there…
For example, local tax revenue could be a crucial selling point for communities worried about school funding, while areas with a high percentage of retirees might be more concerned about sound and visual impacts. Communities that have been burned by developers in the past will be focused on the developer’s track record, while local jobs might be more important in areas with high unemployment.
Reviewing census data, planning documents, local press stories and social media content will help you develop the right approach to work with a specific community. A public-opinion survey is another tool that can provide powerful data about the community’s attitude toward wind power development.
Building an overview of the community will help you frame the way you talk about the project…
3. Know your stakeholders
Every community has members who are influential and outspoken enough to set the tone around an issue. These folks can turn an average project into a hot topic and inspire strong opinions in their otherwise neutral neighbors. Your research should aim to identify these influencers…
The chances of success increase when you engage with influencers early on and address their concerns.
4. Cultivate local champions
No matter how well you communicate the local benefits of your project, your messages will always be subject to skepticism because your company isn’t local, and it will make money from the project. Support from local citizens and leaders will resonate with the community and build trust in ways that no developer can match.
Don’t wait until you hit a roadblock to begin building up local support. Identifying champions and building a relationship with them is a process that should begin on day one. Build a database of supporters, and give them regular updates to help them feel invested in the project’s success…
5. Address legitimate concerns
Strategic communication can resolve many common issues and prevent unreasonable attacks against a project, but you can’t communicate your way out of every problem…
Managing community relations in a deliberate and strategic way can lead to a faster development process and more successful projects.