[ad#PhycoBiosciences AIM Interview]

Process

Gaining community support for biomass projects

January 23, 2013, by Al Maiorino, President, Public Strategy Group, Inc.
AlgaeIndustryMagazine.com

shakinghandscrop

Questions are increasingly raised concerning the various environmental, economic, and social issues that surround biomass production and use. But with continuous research and dedication to the advancement of modern ideals and methodology, the biomass industry is looking to ensure increased energy accessibility, efficient resource usage, and sustainable production.

Nonetheless, companies need to look at their strategy of building public support to counter the NIMBY (not in my backyard) effect on biomass projects, as the outcome for a smooth project is at risk.

U.S. Chamber of Commerce data shows that in 2011 over 350 energy projects were delayed or abandoned due to public opposition – and the economic impact of these projects was estimated at about $1.1 trillion in GDP and 1.9 million jobs per year. That is a lot of missed opportunity for jobs and clean energy, all due to public opposition.

Having been in the business of running public affairs campaigns to build public support for controversial projects for nearly twenty years, I can tell you that the key piece of the puzzle missed by developers in their public outreach strategy is the “campaign” style approach the opponents can do so well.

Just announcing a biomass project...

Too often biomass developers do not offer up an aggressive public affairs campaign when they announce a project, often letting crucial time pass between the announcement of a proposal and when public outreach begins. Opponents use this time to build opposition and sway residents against these projects. By running a political style campaign, you can reach all residents, identify the supporters, and harness them into action for your project. Here are some crucial tactics that biomass should consider in their outreach efforts:

Announce your proposal wisely

When announcing a project, have a direct mail piece ready to hit all the households in the host community to spread the positive benefits of the project. It is effective to follow this up with newspaper and web ads, and phone banking of the community to, again, further identify supporters. Have an open house to answer residents’ questions and recruit supporters.

All of this should be done in the first few weeks after announcing a project, to not allow the opposition to gel and take over the narrative. Too often companies allow precious time between announcing a project, and disseminating information to the community.

Meet with identified supporters

Once you have a database of supporters built from the mailers, ads and phone calls, the developer should meet with them so that they know they are not alone in their support, and they are a grassroots force that can begin to write letters to public officials, the newspapers, and attend key public hearings and speak out. Rarely will a supporter write a letter for you or attend and speak at a public hearing if you have not had the face to face contact with them previously.

...in 2011 over 350 energy projects were delayed...

Build grasstops support

In addition to reaching out to residents, stakeholders and well known members of the community, along with businesses, associations, and other civic groups should also be met with to attempt to bring on board for support.

Keep an updated database

As you begin to identify supporters of your project, that information should be put in a database to refer to throughout the entitlement process of your proposal. Coding your supporters by local legislative districts can also help if you need to target a particular local legislator who may be wavering in support.

The key goal of these types of campaigns is to never allow the opponents an opportunity to seize the moment because of inaction by the developer. Just announcing a biomass project is not enough to assume that everyone will be on board to support it. By running an aggressive campaign and identifying supporters, you have taken a key step of any successful campaign. Knowing what to do with the identified members of a community who support your project is the next step, and one that will allow vocal support to outnumber opponents – whether it be petitions, letters or crowds at public hearings.

When announcing a project...

In 2013 and beyond, expect NIMBY opposition to biomass. Meeting this challenge with proven grassroots techniques will be critical to making 2013 a success for renewable energy.

Al Maiorino started Public Strategy Group, Inc. in 1995. His firm has developed and managed corporate public affairs campaigns in a variety of industries.

More Like This…

HOME Algae Industry Jobs

Copyright ©2010-2013 AlgaeIndustryMagazine.com. All rights reserved. Permission required to reprint this article in its entirety. Must include copyright statement and live hyperlinks. Contact editorial@algaeindustrymagazine.com. A.I.M. accepts unsolicited manuscripts for consideration, and takes no responsibility for the validity of claims made in submitted editorial.

From The A.I.M. Archives

— Refresh Page for More Choices
Western Morning News reports that Westcountry scientists in the U.K. are using algae to develop an innovative new method of cleaning up contaminated mine water while harv...
Phys.org reports that, in collaboration with the Berlin, Germany LED manufacturer FutureLED, scientists at the Technische Universität München have developed a unique comb...
Tess Riley writes in TheGuardian.com about how spirulina may be able to combat malnutrition in developing countries. Spirulina is one of the oldest life forms on Earth, c...
In an age where customer input is as easy as a click, OriginOil has tapped directly into its intended market to R&D their next generation algae harvester -- with a de...
Fort Myers, FL-based Algenol, and India's Reliance Industries Ltd., have deployed India’s first Algenol algae production platform. The demonstration module is located nea...
James Goodman writes in the democratandchronicle.com about Jeffrey Lodge, an associate professor of biological sciences at Rochester Institute of Technology, who knows wh...
Montague, Prince Edward Island-based Solarvest has announced that it has used its algal-based production platform to express bioactive therapeutic proteins. The proof of ...
K. S. Rajgopal writes in thehindu.com about a new study that demonstrates how macroalgal biomass from Gelidiella acerosa and Gracilaria dura collected from Adri and Verav...
Sebastian Rich reports on PBS Newshour about the Central African Republic city of Bangui, which has been caught in the crossfire between warring Muslim and Christian grou...
Algae “red tide” events often create dazzling nighttime light shows of blue-green bioluminescence resulting from the force generated by breaking waves. While many mysteri...
Scientific representatives from the EnAlgae consortium are announcing preliminary results this week from a key algal carbon capture project in the works at Britain’s larg...
The vision of developing a community college degree program to train a high technology algae workforce was launched at New Mexico's Santa Fe Community College (SFCC) in 2...
John O’Renick, in this insightful piece from the Portland (Oregon) Tribune, writes about the problems we create from treating waste streams as garbage to be disposed of i...
Japan’s IHI Corporation has announced that they have succeeded in stably cultivating a modified high-output algal strain in a 1,500 square meter open pond in Kagoshima, K...
Using microalgae to capture CO2 is a complex process, especially in flue gas environments, reports an editorial by IEA Clean Coal Centre in worldcoal.com. There are many ...