Jewel Valley Project MET Campaign
Enel Green Power North America enlisted Southwest Strategies to develop and implement a public affairs and community outreach program to win approval for testing equipment related to a proposed wind and solar farm in Boulevard.
Client: Enel Green Power North America
Expertise: Public Affairs and Public Outreach
Location: Boulevard, California
In 2010, Enel Green Power North America (EGPNA) hired Southwest Strategies to provide public affairs and community outreach services for a proposed wind and solar generation facility located on private land in Boulevard. The first step was to secure approvals for testing equipment on the site, including four MET towers, seven Sonic Detection and Ranging (SoDAR) units and one pyranometer. Although the San Diego County Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance in 2009 to streamline the MET permitting process, the team expected EGPNA’s proposal to be appealed to the Planning Commission.
Southwest Strategies began by renaming EGPNA’s project to create a local connection for the Rome, Italy-based company. As a result, the proposal became known as the Jewel Valley Project. In order to support the outreach effort, Southwest Strategies created a fact sheet, a website, an eletter template and a PowerPoint presentation. The team then held a moderated discussion to identify potential supporters who might testify at hearings or write letters of support, obtain feedback from neighbors and local renewable energy supporters, and acquire names of other potential supporters for future outreach.
Presentations were made to local planning groups and numerous business and community organizations. These meetings helped the team to identify project supporters who were later mobilized to testify at the San Diego County Zoning Administrator and Planning Commission hearings, as well as write letters of support. To build its profile in San Diego County, EGPNA partnered with CleanTECH San Diego and other wind developers to hold a Wind Energy Symposium. The symposium included panel discussions with experts who addressed concerns and dispelled myths about wind energy. More than 200 people attended the event, and a final report was distributed to elected officials in the region. Southwest Strategies also worked with EGPNA to help implement Play Energy, an international educational program, in local East County schools.
Southwest Strategies’ outreach program ultimately proved successful. Numerous supporters testified in favor of EGPNA’s application for wind and solar testing equipment, and both the Zoning Administrator and Planning Commission voted to approve it. The MET equipment was installed and began collecting wind and solar data in 2011.