I recently posted about Vineyard Wind – a 100-turbine wind farm to be built off the islands of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. In that post, I discussed how stakeholders were aligning against the project with their own valid rationale(s) for opposing the construction. In the post, as I always do, I connect this to project management – secondary risks, stakeholder engagement and the like.
A day or so after I posted, another article came out in the Cape Cod Times which covers a new coalition of stakeholders aligned in favor of the Vineyard Wind project. The coalition is called New England for Offshore Wind (see their website here). Their mission, as stated by Susannah Hatch, one of the founders: “We aim to drive governors and legislatures to support regional collaboration and more offshore wind procurements, building the political will to power every home in New England with offshore wind.”
You can get a quick summary of their view of offshore wind in this rather inspiring video:
From a project management perspective, note how the coalition acknowledges the types of stakeholders (the fishing industry, for example) by bringing them on board (excuse the pun) to share their opinions within the video. Next, note how they go over the economic benefits as well as the ecological benefits.
The economic benefits are hard to ignore:
The renewable energy industry has been one of the fastest growing job creators in Massachusetts, and Hatch pointed out that offshore wind has the potential to add billions to the economy regionally and tens of thousands of jobs. She cited a recent American Wind Energy Association report that hailed offshore wind as a $100 billion industry waiting in the wings, with the promise of $25 billion in economic output nationally and 83,000 jobs.
With full buildout of the industry, that number could increase to $200 billion in new economic activity and 133,000 jobs, said Hillary Bright, director of special projects for the BlueGreen Alliance. The alliance unites both high-profile environmental groups, such as the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council, with big labor unions,, such as the Communication Workers of America, United Steelworkers and United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters, to advocate for the clean energy industry and the jobs that come with those projects.
Although in the prior article the opponents cover the secondary threats that the turbines and their construction bring to the environment, this coalition talks about the secondary opportunities, such as the reef-effect (the new fish habitats created by the protective rocks placed around the wind farm’s turbines).
And New England (Boston, in particular) is known (properly, I would have to assert!) as one of the best regions in the world for academic excellence. What's the connection here? Another example of stakeholder outreach by this coalition: bringing this industry to our shores will solve a big problem - retaining our graduates who often get their high-quality education here and then head off elsewhere. From the coalition website:
"New England’s greatest strength is the intellectual capital developed by its colleges and universities. Unfortunately, polls show that New England is not always good at retaining graduates after they complete their degrees. We educate the future clean-energy leaders we need to remain competitive in a low-carbon economy. But if the growth of our home-grown industry doesn’t keep pace, our graduates and researchers will need to leave the region in search of opportunities.
New England’s colleges and universities can and will help this industry grow even beyond what existing public policy envisions. Our professors, students, and graduates will help ensure a robust offshore wind industry is built with minimal impact on the marine environment and maximum benefit for our economy and environment. As we educate the leaders of tomorrow, we need to build an industry that will keep our graduates in New England."
Very persuasive stakeholder expansion, there, I would say!
Consider these aspects of stakeholder engagement and secondary risk on your project. To whom are you reaching out? What coalitions are you building for your project? Turn around and find them, turn to them for support, turn to them to find out their reasons for opposition. Like the blades of the turbines in these projects, Turn, Turn, Turn!