Positioning an Investor-Owned Electric Utility as a Renewable Energy Leader

Over the last several years, Colorado communities have expressed a growing interest in renewable energy leadership, to reduce carbon emissions and to support economic development. Colorado’s Renewable Energy Standard requires utilities to adopt cleaner energy and many communities have signed on to the Sierra Club’s “Ready for 100” pledge. To support these aspirations, and as part of its work toward franchise renewal in a key city in its service territory, an investor-owned utility with a customer-focused, growth-oriented perspective built two wind farms and several community solar gardens.

Client
Services
Communications Strategy & Planning
Media Relations & Influencer Marketing
Stakeholder Engagement & Advocacy Communications
Industry
Energy & Utilities
Awards

CHallenge

After building the infrastructure, the electric utility needed to bolster its reputation among residents, community leaders and elected officials as an innovative, forward-looking energy source that's meeting and exceeding mandates and helping "Ready for 100" communities meet clean energy goals with abundant wind and solar resources.

Solution

Over a three-year timeframe, the utility partnered with Linhart PR to plan and execute three community relations campaigns that built recognition for two new wind farms and two community solar gardens, while promoting the utility’s commitment to achieving lower energy costs for customers through renewable energy:

  • Launch events: Linhart PR invited business and community leaders to see the renewable energy offerings in person at ribbon-cutting ceremonies, to learn more about the benefits of wind and solar power. The events also created an opportunity for engagement, communication, relationship-building and community pride. To provide a turn-key experience for the utility team, Linhart PR took care of every detail and deliverable, including run-of-show, messaging, talking points and scripts, media outreach and managing interviews with company leaders.  
  • Community component: The utility also partnered with STEM programs from a nearby school district to create learning experiences about renewable energy, its benefits and careers in the field. Experiential learning included a pumpkin carving event to create solar-powered jack-o-lanterns, in-class presentations and inviting students to the ribbon-cutting ceremonies.

Results

Through the three community relations campaigns, Linhart PR helped the utility engage with Colorado communities around their new renewable energy offerings:

  • Secured 68 online, print and broadcast stories
  • Earned 59.3 million media impressions
  • Coordinated the attendance of an average of 30 elected officials and community leaders at each event, including mayors, city council members and county commissioners
  • Worked with more than 50 STEM students from a local high school on renewable energy education, creating a favorable impression with students, parents, teachers and school administrators

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