Friday, October 17, 2008, 4:50 PM

New energy faces old PR problem

Remember when renewable energy could do no wrong in the eyes of the press and the public? Cherish those days, because they are gone.

It's not that the public opposes the use of renewable energies. Polls show clean energy is here to stay. Rather, the debate has shifted to how the production and delivery of clean energy impacts our neighborhoods and our environment. As a result, new energy faces an old public relations problem: NIMBY - or the "not in my backyard" problem. Here are some examples:

In California, environmentalists halted a plan to carry more solar energy to San Diego because, according to the environmentalists, San Diego Gas & Electric's plan would have run a 150-mile transmission line through a state park.

In Wisconsin, residents of Racine voiced opposition to a new ethanol distillery because it would disturb the views from the local golf course.

In the Southwest desert, residents are fighting the proliferation of industrial solar fields for a variety of reasons, ranging from wildlife protection to the preservation of scenic vistas.

Renewable energy companies can no longer rely solely on the virtues of their product for public support. They must demonstrate appreciation for local sentiment and the footprint left in those communities by the production and delivery of their product.

Many forward-thinking energy companies initiate a dialogue with local communities early on, whether by establishing community advisory panels, launching a public education campaign with local school systems, or by proactively engaging government and community leaders on the company's priorities. These efforts may not generate universal support, but can help mitigate concerns and identify shared goals between the company and the community.

(Photo credit: AP via ABC News)

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Blogger The Mommy Blawger said...

You can add wind resistance in North Texas to your list:

October 26, 2008 at 1:13 PM  

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