The July cover story of American Gas magazine titled, Paving the Way to Public Acceptance, discusses how three natural gas pipeline operators have built successful public engagement strategies to help inform and involve customers.
When it comes to communicating its message to the broader public, Williams, an energy infrastructure company which has been building pipelines for more than a century, has dramatically changed its public expectations of corporate responsibility and transparency. The company uses a variety of outreach tools—from hosting public meetings to technology-based tactics, including telephone town halls with up to several thousand participants in attendance. Over time, Williams has also taken advantage of digital and social media engagement tools. For example, Williams combined a digitized version of the economic impact statement for its Atlantic Sunrise project with an interactive map. This allowed residents to click on their communities to learn how much tax revenue the project will generate, how many jobs will be added and what local initiatives will receive Williams’ grants.
Coupled with social media and traditional outreach, Dominion Energy has built a strong framework for trust building and community support around its Atlantic Coast Pipeline Project. Dominion’s recent successful interaction with residents along the pipeline’s 600-mile alignment has been a true testament to its grassroots efforts. The pipeline’s customers are local utilities that have served communities across Virginia and North Carolina for many years. With building scheduled to begin this fall, Dominion has hosted a series of construction expos with more than 1,000 in attendance while advocates of the project have taken opportunities to meet the public, from open houses to Rotary meetings to city council sessions. Trusted community voices are an important part of helping people learn how energy projects impact the daily lives of all Americans.
To that end, Enbridge, uses virtually every available communication tool to engage customers. From door-to-door conversations to high-tech digital applications with meetings along the proposed route before any permitting starts. The company also makes sure siting and construction practices are consistent with the company’s overall values. That means acting with integrity, maintaining excellent and community relations and protecting the environment. For example, one of the proposed pipelines they are working on, Sabal Trail, adjusted its route alignment nearly 200 times in response to landowners, environmental groups and local government requests. Similarly, after receiving community input, another proposed pipeline, NEXUS, adopted 239 route changes covering over 90 percent of the pipeline route.
Relationship building and social listening skills are essential to reach consumers in today’s environment. In April, AGA launched Your Energy, a national campaign to help build support for natural gas at the local level by personalizing the issue and increasing awareness and support for natural gas projects. The campaign includes community outreach, social media engagement, advertising and other promotions and has pilots in Connecticut and Virginia.
To learn more about the campaign, click here.