The Common Sense Colloquy - Q&A with Lisa Jacobson of The Business Council for Sustainable Energ
Welcome to our third Common Sense Colloquy, a Q&A with Lisa Jacobson, the president of The Business Council for Sustainable Energy. We have been fortunate to work with Lisa and her terrific team on the launch of the annual Sustainable Energy in America Factbook for the past three years. Lisa is an energy policy rockstar and has headed BCSE for over a decade. This month, we asked Lisa to give us a sense of the work she does and share advice about communicating in the current environment. Take a look at her smart suggestions below.
Our thanks to Lisa for sharing her time and insight with us – and you.
Q: The BCSE is perhaps best known for the Sustainable Energy in America Factbook that you issue each year with Bloomberg New Energy Finance in a Washington, D.C. press event. What are your other primary activities and how do you communicate about them?
A: BCSE engages in social media and communications outreach on developments related to its policy priorities. For 2018, at the federal level for example, that is in support of government investment in clean energy – through energy RD&D, tax, infrastructure upgrades and other mechanisms. BCSE is also focused on energy and environmental issues before EPA, FERC and the Department of State.
Q: Sustainable energy increasingly represents the mainstream in America given the contributions of energy efficiency, natural gas and renewable energy to our economy and environment, yet some might still see it as a fringe or "alternative" set of resources. What's your message for those audiences who don't quite understand the value, relevance and contributions of sustainable energy to the nation?
A: I would say, look at the numbers. Energy productivity continues to climb, due to consistent investment and policy support for energy efficiency. In addition, looking at renewable energy, it now provides 18 percent of US electricity generation – nearly on par with the amount provided by the nation’s nuclear fleet. It has been remarkable growth. Natural gas represents over 32 percent of US electricity generation. When you look at renewable and natural gas together – it represents over 92 percent of build in the power sector in the past 25 years and 50 percent of US electricity generation in 2017. Energy efficiency, natural gas and renewable energy are the growth sectors of the US energy economy.
Q: With so much more attention being paid to energy generally in the past several years, one might assume that communicating about sustainable energy is less of a challenge now than it was a decade or more ago. Is that accurate? Why or why not?
A: There are still challenges with understanding the scale of clean energy, and the cost. Communications and education is still needed to highlight how cost effective many sustainable energy technologies are and how widely they are being used across the country.
Q: What’s the best “common sense” advice about communications you’ve received?
A: Be clear and concise and base your communications on real stories and the facts.
Q: What’s the best “common sense” advice about communications you've given to others?
A: Don’t be afraid to engage, but think about what you say before you say it.