EO made its renewable energy debut this spring at the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) conference. The annual event, held May 23 - 26 this year in New Orleans, provides an opportunity for wind project developers, financiers, service providers, and advocates to meet, discuss the state of the wind power market, and address challenges confronting the industry. EO executives Soledad Mills and Sarah Coulter had an active week, participating in a pre-conference community relations workshop, cementing new relationships in side meetings, exhibiting on the conference floor, and delivering a Thought Leader talk on the final day of the event.
Given the extension of the Renewable Energy Production Tax Credit last December and favorable market conditions for wind at the moment, the mood in New Orleans was buoyant. Challenges remain, however, especially with respect to community relations. In the pre-conference workshop on that topic, one attendee went so far as to explicitly call out the need for best practice standards in stakeholder engagement.
Throughout the week, the EO team had a chance to talk to leaders in the wind industry about this and other barriers to the growth of wind power. Those conversations echoed several of the critical issues identified by the Business and Human Rights Resource Center’s recently published research on responsible renewable energy:
- Local community rights
- Land rights
- Community health and safety
- Labor rights
- Indigenous rights
These issues coincide with several key content areas of the EO100™ Standard, and EO plans to begin drafting a Technical Addendum for application to wind projects later this year. In their Thought Leader talk on Thursday, Soledad and Sarah highlighted EO’s expertise on these key areas and our experience in grassroots stakeholder engagement. The talk was warmly received, with several attendees expressing their interest in applying EO’s framework in their own organizations.
EO is proud to be an AWEA member and looks forward to further engaging our peers to advance responsible renewables development for a clean, safe, and prosperous future.