Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Supply Chain Advocacy to Advance Renewable Energy: The Story of E.ON

The renewable energy industry is leveraging their supply chains to create policy advocates. Renewable energy supply chains are beginning to come together to educate policymakers and the media.

The timing of this effort is crucial as the fossil fuel industry making life difficult for renewable energy. The fossil fuel industry realizes the disruptive potential of wind and solar energy and it should come as no surprise that they are not gracefully ceding market share. The fossil fuel industry has been lobbying hard to end subsidies for renewable energy like the Production Tax Credit (PTC).

Although the fossil fuel industry has benefited from government support for more than a century, they are using their wealth and political connections to thwart support for clean energy. Fossil fuel companies have been organizing their lobbying efforts for decades, now renewable energy companies are beginning to harness their collective muscle to do the same.

To help advance this effort, Steve Trenholm, who sits on the boards of both the American Wind Energy Association and the Solar Energy Industries Association, launched E.ON North America. Steve realized that the wind and solar sectors were vulnerable to policy shifts. Steve came up with the idea of shaping policy and expanding markets in the renewable energy sector by leveraging supply chains and turning them into advocates.

In April, 2014, he held a half-day supply chain "summit" at his Chicago headquarters to educate and activate suppliers on the subject of policy advocacy. This was the first time that most of the 50 attendees had participated in an organized, coordinated effort to work on a particular issue.

They heard from a number of people including an experienced Washington lobbyist. They were given what amounts to a tutorial and easy to use tools showing them how they can reach out to their elected officials with the aim of influencing policy.

Those in attendance came to understand that the potential impact they can have. More than this they were given techniques to get through to elected officials. From the beginning suppliers expressed interest in meeting with elected officials. To help with this process E.ON developed a post-event tracking program to guide them and follow their progress.

As reported in a Renewable Energy World article, this event was a rollicking success and just the first of many that are planned. Not only does this help to create a better policy environment, it forges a better understanding between customers and suppliers, which in turn can help both parties be more responsive to the others situation and needs.

E.ON has put forth some basic information on the ways that companies can engage their supply chains. This includes:
  • Supply chain summits like the one hosted by E.ON
  • Clearly articulated value proposition for suppliers explaining why they should be advocates
  • Encourage contact with elected officials and industry advocates to share the importance of constituent advocacy and current state-of-play on policy
  • Provide tool kits that incorporate tips on drafting an op-ed, a sample form letter, even facilitate a scheduling call exercise to a legislator’s office.
Such advocacy is key to opposing the dominating influence of the fossil fuel industry, and helping renewable energy to grow. As the E.On experience illustrates, leveraging renewable energy supply chains is a smart and effective way to go about it.

Related
Renewables Gaining on Fossil Fuels Despite Reports to the Contrary
Graphics - Renewable Energy: Economic Benefits and Scaling
UK's Renewable Energy (Wind) Records in 2014
Why Oil Prices Matter for Renewable Energy
American Voters Want More Renewable Energy
The Promise of Renewable Energy in the US
Renewable Energy Is Our Only Hope
President Clinton on What the American Public Needs to Know about Renewable Energy

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