A 'persuasion strategy' to race to 100 percent renewable energy

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Achieving 100 percent renewable energy is an idea whose time has come. States (such as Hawaii), cities and islands in the United States and around the world are declaring themselves aligned with a goal of 100 percent renewable energy.

Wanting more renewable energy is not enough. People coming into consensus want a measurably stated goal — such as 100 percent renewable energy — to know where they are going and to measure their progress in getting there.

As people come into consensus on what they want (100 percent renewable energy), the conversation shifts to how to achieve 100 percent renewable energy.

In Hawaii, that conversation has been going on for two years since the passage of Hawaii’s 100 percent Renewable Portfolio Standard (100 percent RPS). Through that conversation, people in Hawaii are aware that we have a wealth of energy options that — if implemented now — would move us a long way toward 100 percent renewable energy and deliver energy cost savings compared to staying on imported non-renewable generation.

People in Hawaii are not yet in consensus on how to achieve 100 percent renewable energy, and it’s not for lack of good energy options. People in Hawaii are not yet in consensus on how to achieve 100 percent renewable energy because:

  • they are not yet in consensus on what a decision-making process to achieve 100 percent renewable energy looks like; and
  • they are not yet in consensus on how to create such a decision-making process.

Not yet being in consensus on how to achieve 100 percent renewable energy has huge costs and risks for everybody:

  • For customers of Hawaii’s utility, it means higher energy costs because energy cost-saving renewable energy options are not being implemented.
  • For people at Hawaii’s public utilities commission, it means frustration that decisions are not being made to implement energy cost-saving renewable energy options and — to the extent that renewable energy options are being implemented — they are not being implemented according to any plan or any evaluation of their benefits.
  • For people at Hawaii’s utility, it means a public utilities commission that has three times rejected the utility’s renewable energy plans during the last 5 years; and that is talking about "regulatory policy changes required to align the electric utility’s business model with customers’ interests and the State’s public policy goals"
  • For people at Hawaii’s utility, it means a legislature that is considering legislation directing "an independent third party to establish an initial grid modernization plan …"
  • For people in Hawaii’s renewable energy industry, it means renewable energy projects not developed and renewable energy jobs not created.
  • For people everywhere on the planet, it means rising levels of atmospheric carbon (410 ppm CO2 measured at Hawaii’s Mauna Loa Observatory in April) and catastrophic climate change.

People in Hawaii might come into consensus on how to rapidly achieve 100 percent renewable energy through a persuasion strategy that answers the following questions:

  1. What might a decision-making process for rapidly achieving 100 percent renewable energy look like?
  2. How might one create such a decision-making process?

A persuasion strategy answers the question "What might a decision-making process for rapidly achieving 100 percent renewable energy look like?" by eliciting consensus decisions in answer to the following persuasive questions:

  • Question 1: What decisions in what order are required to achieve 100 percent renewable energy?
  • Question 2: Who makes what decisions in what order to achieve 100 percent renewable energy?
  • Question 3: How does one achieve 100 percent renewable energy?
  • Question 4: How does one implement an energy option?
  • Question 5: What does a decision to implement an energy option look like?
  • Question 6: What does a planning process that yields decisions to implement energy options look like?
  • Question 7: What does a plan to implement energy options look like?
  • Question 8: What does a procurement process to implement an energy option look like?
  • Question 9: What does implementation of an energy option look like?

A persuasion strategy answers the question "How might one create a decision-making process for rapidly achieving 100 percent renewable energy?" by:

  • inviting a decision-maker to consider a persuasive question (from the Questions above),
  • inviting the decision-maker to persuade herself or himself of her or his own answer to the persuasive question, and
  • inviting the decision-maker to discuss the persuasive question with other decision-makers and come into consensus with other decision-makers on a decision in answer to the persuasive question.

Such a persuasion strategy rapidly achieves 100 percent renewable energy in two ways:

First, it produces consensus of decision-makers on each decision that might be required to achieve 100 percent renewable energy. A persuasion strategy produces such consensus because a consensus decision in answer to persuasive Question 1 provides most of the basis for a consensus decision in answer to persuasive Question 2, which in turn provides most of the basis for a consensus decision in answer to persuasive Question 3, and so on.

Such consensus means less confusion, hesitation and indecision; with more clarity, confidence and speed in implementing energy options to achieve 100 percent renewable energy and deliver optimal benefits for the utility’s customers.

Second, a persuasion strategy rapidly achieves 100 percent renewable energy because it accelerates implementation of energy options. A persuasion strategy accelerates implementation of energy options because decision-makers are excited by the results of implementing energy options that deliver optimal benefits for the utility’s customers.

Excited decision-makers are enthused to use knowledge gained — from and during the most recent implementation of options — to update their plans to implement options that deliver even more optimal benefits for the utility’s customers. Enthused decision-makers update their plans faster to implement options faster to deliver benefits faster for the utility’s customers.

That virtuous loop is called the Implementation Accelerator. Decision-makers are excited by the results and they are enthused to do more — to update plans faster to implement options faster to deliver benefits faster.

Does persuasion strategy work?

Five years ago, I started talking — in one-on-one conversations with decision-makers at Hawaii’s principal electric utility — about a goal of 100 percent renewable energy. I called this persuasion strategy "changing the collective mind of the utility" by changing one individual mind at a time.

Over three years, I talked about a goal of 100 percent renewable energy with no more than 30 of the 3,000 people who worked for the utility. Those conversations multiplied by decision-makers at the utility talking with one another about a goal of 100 percent renewable energy. During the third year of those conversations, other people — including legislators and renewable energy advocates — joined those conversations and the conversations multiplied even more.

Over three years, those conversations multiplied to the point that people at the utility came into consensus on a goal of 100 percent renewable energy. When Hawaii’s legislature proposed a 100 percent RPS, the people at the utility said "yes" to it because they already were in consensus on a goal of 100 percent renewable energy.

Persuasion strategy helped people in Hawaii come into consensus on a goal of 100 percent renewable energy. It can help them come to consensus on how to rapidly achieve that goal.

It can do the same for people everywhere. When people in Hawaii act in consensus to rapidly achieve 100 percent renewable energy, they create an example that people the world over can follow.

For more information, download A Persuasion Strategy for Rapidly Achieving 100% Renewable Energy at www.HawaiiEnergyLaw.com.