“The team at Southwest (Strategies) wrote and designed a suite of collateral materials that helped communicate about several of our local projects. They’ve also contributed to our outreach efforts in the region and have done an excellent job.”
– Shannon Koontz-Monis, Local Agency Liaison, PG&E
Bottom Line: Southwest Strategies developed a successful strategic community education program to help Pacific Gas and Electric Company determine potential transmission line routes and substation sites for the Power Connect Initiative.
In 2013, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), the largest public utility in California and one of the largest natural gas and electric energy companies in the United States, needed to conduct a robust public outreach and education program for a proposed new 230 kilovolt (kV) transmission line in Fresno, Kings and Madera counties. PG&E also needed to obtain community input about locations and routes for various transmission line and substation projects in Kern, San Luis Obispo, Merced, San Joaquin and Santa Clara counties. Understanding the questions and concerns that community members may have, PG&E reached out to a firm with the experience in this arena to effectively communicate with local stakeholders and help mitigate any potential issues. That firm was Southwest Strategies.
Our ﬁrst task was to develop a cohesive brand for PG&E’s proposed projects. Public opinion polling and a series of four informal focus groups revealed that community members wanted the project names to indicate the new infrastructure’s location and purpose. As a result, the projects were collectively dubbed the “Power Connect” initiative. Each project name referred to a general area, such as “Central Valley” or “South County.” From there, we created project-specific materials and messaging to help us tell the story to individual communities and hear what stakeholders had to say, including:
- Community partnerships to prepare economic studies to show project benefits
- Bilingual collateral templates
- Websites, fact sheets, brochures, newsletters and direct mail pieces
- Project tours
- Briefings, community presentations and open houses
Our eﬀorts helped PG&E educate local communities about the Power Connect initiative and gather the input needed to reﬁne potential transmission line routes and substation sites. Because of our success, PG&E continues to bring in Southwest Strategies to provide communications and outreach support for various projects.