LEVERAGING LESSONS LEARNED
Tom Holliday, Director of Communications Services, American Electric Power
Doug Colafella, Manager, External Communications, Allegheny Energy
American Electric Power and Allegheny Energy are applying best practices to help gain approvals for the Potomac-Appalachian Transmission Highline (PATH), a 765-kV project extending 275 miles through West Virginia, Virginia, and Maryland. Learn how the two companies are working together to apply successful strategies for grassroots outreach, community involvement, and public education while contending with project delays, entrenched opposition, and the economic downturn.
So, what are participants at EUCI's conference really learning? How to congratulate each other for failure, apparently. Yee-Hawwww!
This year's conference upped the fun factor by adding a special award to the festivities:
EUCI will debut the EUCI Excellence in Public Participation in Transmission Siting Award! The 2013 award will focus on the most engaging, creative, and useful websites. Websites serve as a foundation for sharing project information with the public. EUCI wants to recognize and share the industry's most engaging transmission line siting websites. Finalists will present at the conference and winners will be chosen by the conference attendees.
Wowzers! It's almost like winning the lottery, huh? In addition to this great honor, tell the audience what the winner will receive, Rod Roddy...
Rod Roddy: Winners will receive:
Highlight of website and award announcement in EUCI Energize Weekly newsletter
Web banner recognition for winning website
Award Plaque for your office !!!
What do you get when you combine a bunch of self-congratulatory airheads taking nominations for their website award with two successful transmission opponents who never miss a chance to tell the industry the fearful truth?
We thought our entry would be immediately tossed in the cyber trash, after all, we didn't attempt to hide anything. It was just a little laughter over a couple of beers.
Apparently there's dumb and then there's EUCI dumb.
I do have to hand it to them for running a "fair" contest and making sure all "entries" were judged inside the self-congratulatory transmission echo chamber by public relations shysters in denial: a panel of industry experts to include RES Americas, PEPCO, American Transmission Company, Allegheny Energy, Southern California Edison, and The Wilderness Society. Just a little FYI observation... some of the transmission project judging species are much dumber than others...
So, did we win? Of course not! EUCI and their transmission owner stable don't want to feature and award any "public participation" that actually got its hands dirty participating with the public (to stop an unnecessary transmission project). Therefore, in the spirit of EUCI's self-congratulatory echo chamber, we hereby award ourselves the FIRST ANNUAL EFFECTIVE PUBLIC PARTICIPATION IN THE REAL WORLD TRANSMISSION PROJECT OPPOSITION WIN! Award.
So, which websites won the "contest" and were judged "most engaging, creative and useful for the public?" I can't speak to three of the nominees, but one of the websites nominated was Clean Line Energy's Rock Island Clean Line website. Useful? Creative? The last time I checked, Clean Line was busy deleting comments from and banning "the public" from participating on their websites. Not very "effective" participation with the public in my book. RICL's opposition seems to be doing a better job here and here. Maybe I'll make Block RICL its very own special little website ribbon to compete with RICL's... sort of a People's Choice Awards vs. The Oscars thing.
Thanks for the laughs, EUCI, your organization plays a great straight man! And thanks for sending "Allegheny Energy" our contest entry so that our little coal fella could have a panicked moment wondering if his peer judges were laughing at him (and yes, indeed they were!) And thanks for making sure that none of that nasty ol' reality confronts any of your precious transmission owners and makes them question their bag of stale "public participation" best practices that are easily neutralized by reality-based opposition.