What are the issues for a smaller wind energy company like Northern Power?
We have concerns about small wind in general. The support level the renewables market gets compared to fossil fuels is vastly different. Support from the government should at least be similar.
We’re a small manufacturer and work primarily with lobbying firms or industry groups doing the lobbying. We provide a strong voice to industry associations such as the American Wind Energy Association and Distributed Wind Energy Association. They organize events to create awareness for our industry. We also hold events to create interest in renewables among potential customers.
How do you compete with energy companies in solar and fossil fuels?
We don’t undermine the efforts solar is putting in place, because indirectly we are pulling the same cards. We’re not directly fighting the fossil fuel marketplace, though it is obviously there. We fight hard for equal treatment between renewables and traditional fossil fuels. Besides that, we’re looking at lobbying and arguing for people to start taking their future energy supply into their own hands, rather than being dependent on large utility companies, legislation, and regulation already in place.
What is the public attitude toward wind power?
It varies. Some people love sports cars, others love electric cars. Some customers love wind turbines and embrace them, and would like to own more than one. Then there are the NIMBYs, Not In My Backyard types. Those people obviously have a strong voice through certain channels.
There are areas where the population isn’t fond of seeing wind turbines with blades spinning. People believe it creates shadow flicker and, potentially, a frequency that could be harmful. There are all kinds of stories. Proper education is required to improve the image. That’s something the industry associations are doing and we do through our own events.
How does climate change factor into your messaging?
Climate change is such a large and vast area. We highlight the need to fight climate change in our indirect and direct messaging as part of why people should invest in renewable energy. We also identify companies that would be interested in leading in a positive way by becoming more sustainable, shifting toward green energy, or having more environmentally friendly production. We’re trying to connect with them to explain how our technology would be beneficial.