STEELCASE SPONSORS JOHN DEERE WIND FARM
Submitted by New Energy News Blog
Why not? The Academy Awards come from the Kodak Theater. Other corporations have ballparks, football stadiums, hockey and basketball arenas. Sponsoring wind energy may not get Steelcase as much publicity but it is arguably a much better identification.
Furniture manufacturer Steelcase, a company with a strong environmental conscience, bought the renewable energy credits (R.E.C.s) the wind farm will create. Spending advertising money to create such associations while offsetting corporate emissions is likely to become more common in the near future.
There is controversy over whether Steelcase has used its sponsorship to its best advantage. Apparently labeling the turbines “provided by Steelcase” and naming the installation “The Wege Wind Farm” (after a company founder) is not good enough “branding.” Hank Stewart, vice president, Green Team advertising agency: “So many people care about the environment now that you really can get a lot more juice from naming a wind farm than from naming a stadium…But they really missed an opportunity by not leading with their brand name.”
Michael Watras, president, brand consulting firm Straightline: “Few people know who Peter Wege is, so it creates a disconnect in people’s minds…If they’d called it the Steelcase Wind Farm, the tagline could have said, ‘We support an eco-friendly environment.’ ”
No doubt the advertising wits will have more to say about how to get the most advertising mileage out of the sponsorship. Regardless, the concept opens up a whole new way of financing New Energy projects. Elizabeth Salerno, American Wind Energy Association (AWEA): “This could really make more communities embrace local wind projects…”
The company that arranged the Steelcase/John Deere deal sees a whole new naming game in New Energy. Ted G. Rose, vice president, Renewable Choice Energy: “This is a new business model, and it could attract any brand that wants to be linked with sustainability…Imagine the G.M. wind farm, the Apple wind farm — it’s not unthinkable at all.”
John Deere built the wind farm. Steelcase bought RECs to help with the financing and got the right to name it. Both presences are important, John Deere for making the move from one kind of farming equipment to another, Steelcase for leading the way in a new kind of New Energy financing. (click to enlarge)
Corporate Sponsorship for a Wind Farm Claudia H. Deutsch, March 18, 2008 (NY Times)
Steelcase named it the Wege Wind Farm in memory of founding family member and “Green Giant” Pete Wege. (click to enlarge)
WHAT Farm tool and mechanical implement manufacturer John Deere is building an 8-turbine, 10-megawatt wind farm. Furniture company Steelcase will sponsor the project, buying the renewable energy credits (R.E.C.s) for the privilege of naming it the Wege Wind Energy Farm and getting the company name on the turbines and property.
WHEN – Scheduled to open May 2008. – Steelcase is committed to the REC purchase for 5 years. – Steelcase started a “Green Giants Campaign” on the internet to recognize deserving environmentalists.
Steelcase and John Deere picked a good location when they picked the Texas Panhandle. (click to enlarge)
WHERE Panhandle, Tex.
WHY – The RECs will offset 20% of Steelcase’ operations power consumption. – The cost of each turbine in the wind farm is $1 million to $2 million. – The unique funding opens the possibility of wind farm developments otherwise not affordable.
Word on the street is Steelcase makes a fine “blogger’s chair” which NewEnergyNews is willing to use if necessary. (click to enlarge)
QUOTES – Nancy W. Hickey, chief administrative officer, Steelcase: “…this is another way to help get us [to the Steelcase goal of cutting its carbon footprint 25% by 2012).” – Andrew Winston, environmental consultant/co-author of “Green to Gold”: “The demand for wind power and for R.E.C.’s is outpacing the supply, so I won’t be surprised to see more companies trying to lock up the renewable energy credits that become available…” – Mark S. Brownstein, Environmental Defense Fund: “After all, the best environmental policies are the ones where there’s a strong economic rationale for doing the right thing…” – Bradley W. Johnson, director for business development, John Deere: “It costs us $350,000 to bring in a crane, whether you are building 4 turbines or 40…And you have the same legal fees, and costs of mobilizing a crew or negotiating contracts with utilities.”
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