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State and Local Climate and Energy Program

Engaging Stakeholders

Working with Partners

States that have engaged multiple state agencies (e.g., environment, energy, utility, transportation) in planning and implementing climate and clean energy strategies and programs have found the greatest successes. Involving staff from multiple agencies helps identify, access, and leverage existing programs, resources, and tools developed by other organizations (e.g., state agencies, legislatures, universities, the private sector).

States have found it particularly useful to reach out to the parties in their states that are interested in and/or may be affected by changes in climate, energy, and environmental policies within the state. Key players and their attributes typically include, but are not limited to:

  • The governor and his/her staff – can provide leadership and ensure follow–through
  • State legislatures – can provide leadership on policies requiring legislative action
  • State agencies – maintain government data and can have analytical capacity, policy making authority, and/or implementation jurisdiction in sectors of interest
  • Universities – provide expertise, analytic support, and/or a neutral forum to convene stakeholder meetings

Additional stakeholders outside of state government are likely to be impacted by changes in state policy or regulatory decisions. In addition to offering input and expressing their interests, these stakeholders can be important partners:

  • Utilities – house technical expertise and data
  • Independent system operators (ISOs) and regional transmission organizations (RTOs) – hold technical analyses and information that are key pieces of many clean energy policies
  • Independent power producers, independent transmissions owners, and energy suppliers – maintain information and analysis about electricity markets
  • Environmental and consumer organizations – track data, analysis, and feedback
  • Other private sector interests – keep data and analytic capabilities relevant to energy planning
  • The public – offer new ideas, input, and feedback to the state

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Reaching the Community

Climate and clean energy policies and programs require broad public and political support to be effective. Successful states have implemented climate and energy policies with the support of their governor, legislature, and state agencies; however, successful programs eventually require an outreach strategy to engage the target audience to take actions that will lead to the projected energy savings or greenhouse gas reductions.

Any outreach campaign requires a well designed multi-step strategy, whose components typically include the following (although not always in this exact order):

  1. Establish a Team – Involve the team in each step of the development process.
    • Try to get people on your team from both environmental and education backgrounds (e.g., technical staff from your department and outreach staff from the public relations department). Involving external stakeholders on your team as well can add valuable perspectives.
  2. Identify Goals – Identify a cohesive set of realistic goals that serve the overall objectives of your outreach campaign and function as achievable milestones. The goal of an outreach campaign typically falls within one of the following three categories:
    • Raising awareness about the issue, idea, or program (e.g., increasing understanding of the benefits of the ENERGY STAR brand, publicizing a new green power purchase program).
    • Educating your audience about the impacts of their decisions (e.g., providing a climate calculator to understand their emissions profiles).
    • Facilitating action by asking your audience to do something (e.g., visit a website, buy an energy efficient product).
  3. Identify Your Audience – Spend time considering the perspective and experiences of the audience you intend to reach and shaping your message to address them.
    • Your intended audience should be defined narrowly enough that you can create materials and messages that will resonate with them. Audiences can be segmented by demographic (e.g., age), geographic (e.g., one metropolitan area), or behavioral (e.g., drivers) factors.
  4. Establish Timeline and Identify Needs and Resources – Develop a realistic timeline and create deadlines and milestones to keep the development of your outreach campaign on schedule. Determine your budget and, if necessary, identify any resources that may be able to provide funding or technical assistance.
    • Working with a multi–stakeholder team can often allow for leveraging of resources.
  5. Develop Outreach Materials – Demonstrate to your intended audience how the content of the material meets their needs.
    • Remember to ensure that the materials include messages that will resonate with your audience's current viewpoints, not necessarily what would resonate for you (you're the expert already).
    • One tool for helping to communicate greenhouse gas reductions across various audiences is EPA's Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator.
  6. Implement an Engagement Strategy – Stick with your outreach strategy as you establish connections with your audience.
    • Examine the results of your campaigns and build lessons learned into future efforts.

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