A number of state clean energy funds have begun to explore and implement public education and marketing campaigns for renewable energy. While the purpose of these campaigns is clear – to motivate electricity customers to purchase renewable energy – they have often faced mixed and sometimes unclear results. Two specific renewable energy public education programs in the U.S. have broad coalition funding: The Smart Power Project in Connecticut and the Mid-Atlantic Renewable Energy Coalition (MAREC) program in Pennsylvania. The Smart Power Project is funded at $1.4 million per year, while MAREC has attracted $881,000 of initial funding. This case examines the features, benefits, and challenges of these coalition-based efforts in public education. Innovative Features
- The Connecticut and Pennsylvania campaigns represent two of the first publicly funded, large-scale renewable energy education and marketing efforts in the nation.
- Each program has been funded and supported not only by state clean energy funds, but also by a variety of other organizations.
- The Smart Power Project has worked to bring together a large number of foundations and community groups, while the MAREC program adds significant participation by the renewable energy industry.
- Both efforts represent innovative, multi-party coalition-based campaigns.
- Neither the Connecticut nor the Pennsylvania campaigns have been operating for enough time to have strong results.
- The Connecticut campaign has, after a period of planning, issued three grants and is still building its organizational foundation (an executive director has been hired, but board spots are still being filled).
- The Pennsylvania campaign has completed its first marketing and education phase (including television, radio, print, and direct outreach), with limited immediate results.
- Based on the experiences of both funds, the benefits of a coalition-based campaign include access to additional funding sources and the development of a consistent message.
- Challenges include identifying a common set of goals and interests, reaching agreement on campaign materials, and maintaining the willingness to fund a high-risk and initially low-reward effort.
- The need for close coordination between these campaigns and the marketing efforts of renewable energy suppliers has also become apparent.