Bringing Geothermal to Top-of-Mind — 2006+

Puna Geothermal Venture 2006 to present
Public Education Campaign
Branding/Reputation Management

Challenge
Puna Geothermal Venture (PGV) has generated clean, stable and renewable power in Hawaii for seventeen years. Located on the slopes of Kilauea Volcano, the plant supplies nearly twenty percent of the electricity for the Island of Hawaii and thirty-one percent of the state’s renewable power. However, false and misleading information continued to linger from the early days of geothermal explorations in Hawaii. This information was unrelated to PGV or its locale.

In 2006, Hastings and Pleadwell (H&P) was engaged to bring geothermal top-of-mind. H&P gathered data on geothermal energy and its benefits as a clean, stable and sustainable resource.

Solution
H&P analyzed the reasons for the lack of public awareness of this resource given the state was ninety-five percent dependent on imported fossil fuel. Nationally and internationally, geothermal information was vast and mainly positive. A 2007 Massachusetts Institute of Technology-based study of geothermal energy in the U.S. listed Hawaii as one of the top states with greatest potential.  H&P increased PGV’s leadership role in the community and in professional, academic and government circles.  In 2009, after a year of laying the groundwork, H&P undertook a more aggressive campaign by combining traditional stakeholder/community outreach and education with timely online and new media.

PGV improved traditional media and community outreach campaigns, which centered on the benefits of geothermal power in Hawaii.  H&P created a new ad campaign, sponsored and hosted events, and reached out to the community to form relationships with important media personnel.  PGV worked with Ormat Technologies to assure compliance with requirements for a publicly traded company.

Results
PGV leadership was asked to serve on newly-formed state and county energy advisory committees (e.g. Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative’s Grid Stability Working Group), and to speak at various business and economic forums, including the Kailua-Kona Chamber of Commerce’s annual Kuleana Green Business Conference. In January 2009, online preference improved following PGV’s partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy, which was aimed at transforming the way Hawaii meets its energy needs (seventy percent renewable by 2030). It spiked again at the end of 2009 with news that parent company Ormat Technologies had been awarded a federal grant to explore geothermal possibilities on Maui.

PGV plant manager Michael Kaleikini presented a speech at the University of Hawaii that tackled Native Hawaiian perceptions of renewable energy resources, which drew media attention. Kaleikini was also asked to speak to University of Hawaii students, and to participate in the University’s STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) outreach program for Native Hawaiian and minority students. Timely PGV stories replaced outdated negative online coverage. Oahu-based editorial and industry writers began including geothermal in their reports about alternative energy in Hawaii. These voices called for further exploration of geothermal power.

 

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