Working with stakeholders of various backgrounds… with varying degrees of buy-in –and bones to pick with you as well as each other… getting them all to focus on a common goal.
Sound like project management?
Sure does. That’s why this article posted just a few days ago caught my attention. That stakeholder theme drew me in – as well as the fact that it was using the COP21 meetings in Paris as the context.
The article opens: “The business community is well-represented at the United Nations climate summit underway in Paris — and it will be much more engaged in finding positive solutions than ever before.”
Brief history lesson here:
1n 1992: Five thousand delegates at the first climate summit in Rio, 13 people — were representing the business sector in that first meeting. Why? Business was considered the cause of all evil and was seen as an enemy. Moving forward to 2015, to COP21 in Paris, and what do you have? “More than 1,000 business representatives will be in Paris and most will be supportive of climate action, says Edward Cameron, who represents We Mean Business, a nonprofit coalition that is working with companies on climate change.”
That’s quite a change! And here comes the other project management-y piece to this story. It doesn’t take too much imagination to conclude that 1,000 businesses focused on climate change are going to be launching tens of thousands of projects geared to make climate-change-oriented (and of course profit oriented!) goals. Goals that used to be considered at odds with each other, and now, by orders of magnitude, considered to be quite aligned.
As we said in our first book (Green Project Management, which, by the way, has a cover which features a tree that yields paper money) and now our second book (Driving Project, Program, and Portfolio Success), the two endeavors of social and planetary “good” and making money are not enemies.
They’re not at odds with each other at all – rather, they are complementary and (for lack of a better term) synergistic.
It’s yet to be seen if the stakeholders of COP21 can come up with an agreement – after all, another interest group represented is government – but we see good news in the fact that business is participating not as an enemy but as a partner; and we hope that the project management community recognizes this partnership and the focus on sustainability not as a threat or a set of new constraints but rather a whole new set of opportunities.
So we would argue that business and sustainability are not friends, nor enemies, nor frenemies, but rather partners. And although climate change presents a very real threat, the solutions that will be brought to bear will require project managers in vast quantities. That being the case, we should be thinking about the partnerships we can build as PMs to make these solutions reality.
In the 1980s there was an expression – totally tubular – meaning really ‘awesome’ or cool. I think its origins were from the west-coast (US) surfer culture.
Well, that expression (with some modification, of course) has another ‘coastal’ application today, based on a story in today’s Boston Sunday Globe. In the story, about the historic city of Gloucester, Massachusetts, it says, “City expects 100 percent of power from wind”. In other words, 100% turbine power. Totally tubinular, dudes and dudettes!
OK, so it’s the wrong coast. Gloucester is a long way from the beaches of California. But this is still a pretty awesome project, whether you’re a dude, dudette, or neither of the above.
By mid December 2012, three turbines are to be operating at Blackburn Industrial Park. Two companies, Varian Seminconductor Equipment Associates and Equity Industrial Partners are the main companies involved here. At 492 feet from base to the top of the rotor, the first turbine, going up in the next few weeks, will be one of the largest in the northeastern US.
After this 2.5 MW turbine goes up, two additional 2 MW turbines will go up – and these will provide ALL of the power for Gloucester’s municipal electricity starting in December. This is not a dream, nor a long term vision. This is happening as you read this blog post. What helped? Well about 30% of the US$8M project comes from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. And what also helped was that the Mayor of Gloucester, Carloyn Kirk, appointed a Clean Energy Commission focused on the idea of renewable energy as a focus. It doesn’t hurt that Gloucester is one of the windiest locations in the northeastern US.
What’s interesting about this project from a project management viewpoint?
Let’s start with a charter – this project has some panache as a project which makes this community unique – a city fully-powered from wind. Secondly the town did a good job identifying stakeholders and working with them up-front to get their buy-in, dealing with facts – not emotion – in describing what impacts the turbines would have. This included conveying the fact that this was an optimal location to build the turbines (average wind speed is greater than 15 mph).
Here’s what’s also totally turbinular – on November 16th, residents can participate in a blade-signing event, where they can sign t heir names on one of the six blades (from the two turbines) that will be powering the city for the foreseeable future, and preventing about 6400 tons of carbon dioxide and other particulates from being released each year into their atmosphere when fossil fuels are used to produce electricity. Below are a few images to help you get a scope of this totally turbinular project!
We’ve written about Cape Wind in our blog many times, (as well as on sister site ScopeCrepe)- from an environmental perspective and a project management perspective. Many, many lessons learned here. Textbook examples of stakeholder management (and mismanagement). Stakeholder interaction. And from a green PM perspective – the effect of environmental projects on the economy. 1,000 construction jobs, and an unspecified number of new PM jobs are expected to be added by this $1B, 130-turbine project. 75% of Cape Cod’s electrical power needs are expected to be served by Cape Wind’s contribution to the grid.
On April 28, the project received Federal approval. See the story published in today’s Boston Globe here. There are already almost 100 moderated comments on the story. UPDATE: The Globe has a good video here as well.
Cape Wind Receives Federal Approval for First Offshore Wind Farm
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar on Wednesday approved the Cape Wind offshore wind farm, completing the last regulatory step for the project which was first propsed for Nantucket Sound about eight years ago.
The project has been delayed throughout the permitting process by opposition from coastal residents who fear the wind turbines, which will be erected five miles from shore, will devalue coastal properties and affect tourism.
Salzar said the developer of the $1 billion wind farm must agree to additional measures to minimize the potential adverse impacts of construction and operation of the facility.
â€œAfter careful consideration of all the concerns expressed during the lengthy review and consultation process and thorough analyses of the many factors involved, I find that the public benefits weigh in favor of approving the Cape Wind project at the Horseshoe Shoal location,â€ Salazar said in an announcement at the State House in Boston. â€œWith this decision we are beginning a new direction in our Nationâ€™s energy future, ushering in Americaâ€™s first offshore wind energy facility and opening a new chapter in the history of this region.â€
The Cape Wind project is expected to be the first wind farm on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf, generating enough power to meet 75% of the electricity demand for Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Island combined.
A number of similar projects have been proposed for other northeast coastal states, positioning the region to tap 1 million megawatts of offshore Atlantic wind energy potential, which could create thousands of wind jobs in manufacturing, construction and operations and displace older, inefficient fossil-fueled generating plants.
Is everyone happy with this?
From the “Save Our Sound” web page:
Coalition of Stakeholder Groups Announce Cape Wind Lawsuits
Native American Tribes, Commercial Fishermen, Environmental Groups, Towns and Others Will File Suit to Bar Industrial Wind Project from Nantucket Sound
Hyannis, MA â€“ A wide ranging coalition of stakeholder groups will immediately file suit in response to Secretary Salazarâ€™s ruling to approve the Cape Wind project.
â€œWhile the Obama Administration today dealt a blow to all of us who care deeply about preserving our most precious natural treasures â€“ this fight is not over,â€ said Audra Parker, president and CEO of the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound. â€œLitigation remains the option of last resort. However, when the federal government is intent on trampling the rights of Native Americans and the people of Cape Cod, we must act. We will not stand by and allow our treasured public lands to be marred forever by a corporate giveaway to private industrial energy developers.â€
Lawsuits will be filed on behalf of a coalition of environmental groups â€“ including the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, Three Bays Preservation, Animal Welfare Institute, Industrial Wind Action Group, Californians for Renewable Energy, Oceans Public Trust Initiative (a project of the International Marine Mammal Project of the Earth Land Institute), Lower Laguna Madre Foundation â€“ against the federal Fish and Wildlife Service and Minerals Management Service for violations of the Endangered Species Act.
The Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, along with the Dukeâ€™s County/Marthaâ€™s Vineyard Fishermen Association, will also file suit against the federal Minerals Management Service for violations under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act. The Town of Barnstable has filed a notice of intent to file a lawsuit on the same grounds. And the Wampanoag tribe is preparing to mount a legal challenge to the project for violations of tribal rights. Additional legal issues include violation of the National Environmental Policy Act, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the Rivers and Harbors Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act.
Secretary Salazarâ€™s decision ignores the recent positions taken against the project by the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Massachusetts Historical Commission and the National Park Service, which ruled recently that Nantucket Sound was eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places which, like our national parklands, would provide it a higher level of protection from industrial development.
The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) recommended that Secretary Salazar deny or relocate the proposed Cape Wind project because its effects would be â€œpervasive, destructive, and, in the instance of seabed construction, permanent.â€
The ACHP called on Secretary Salazar to either deny the project or relocate it to a nearby alternative such as the compromise location outside of Nantucket Sound approximately ten miles south of the proposed site. The compromise location, South of Tuckernuck Island, has gained the support of every stakeholder involved, including Native American tribal leaders, state and federal historic preservation agencies, environmental groups, cities and towns, elected officials, airports, ferry lines, chambers of commerce and many others.
â€œIt is a shame that the Obama Administration chose political expediency over developing a project in an environmentally responsible place that can actually be built,â€ said Parker. â€œThe compromise location would have avoided years of litigation and allowed this project to move forward.â€
Secretary Salazar left unaddressed the growing concerns in Massachusetts over the projectâ€™s energy costs to ratepayers and its overall cost to taxpayers.
Earlier this month Rhode Island rejected a deal between National Grid and an offshore wind project that would have set a rate that was nearly triple the current cost for electricity. The electric utility tapped to buy power from Cape Wind, National Grid, has failed to reach a similar agreement on the cost to ratepayers of Cape Windâ€™s energy.
Most estimates have put the cost of Cape Wind energy at two to three times the current rate for conventional power. This comes on top of the $10 billion ISO New England recently announced would be necessary to upgrade the regionâ€™s electrical grid and transmission facilities as a result of Cape Wind and other wind projects.
Massachusetts Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Ian Bowles recently expressed concern over the projectâ€™s energy costs as did the stateâ€™s largest business group, the Associated Industries of Massachusetts.
Consumer anger is also palpable. In a recent survey conducted by the University of Massachusetts, a majority of consumers said they would not pay more for electricity produced by wind turbines. Much of the support for wind energy was based on the false assumption that offshore wind will lower electric bills. At the projected Cape Wind power rate, nearly 80 percent of respondents registered opposition to the project.
What do YOU think?
You can certainly familiarize yourself with the opposite ends of this spectrum by going to the two sites Save Our Sound and Cape Wind.
We suggest that you go either to the Boston Globe article or the Cape Cod Times and comment directly to the most local coverage. And of course, you’re welcome and encouraged to comment here.