At the Energy Innovation 2010 conference I attended last month, Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency Cathy Zoi said something that I found very interesting about Obama’s economic stimulus package: “With 7,000 projects nationwide under management, the mystery of green jobs has dissipated… if we can communicate it effectively”
The conditional statement by the former head of Gore’s We campaign signaled to me that the Administration recognized that more work was needed to not only sell the public on the benefits of the overall stimulus package, but specifically the energy innovation-related funding.
On this challenge, the White House could not have been happier with the front page spread at the Metro section of the opinion-leading Washington Post this past Saturday. Headlined “Obama gets a crystal clear-clear view of economic stimulus’ effects,” the article spotlights a trip that Obama made to suburban Maryland’s Thompson Creek plant.
The family owned window manufacturer has benefited from booming sales, driven by Obama’s tax credit for home energy improvements. The firm currently features 16 job openings on its Web site and has hired more than 80 people under a separate Obama incentive program that rewards employers who bring on people who have been laid off.
This type of localized communication strategy–communicating the regional benefits of a national program– is what is needed more from the Administration. Only if there were more time to put Obama, Biden, and other Administration VIPs on the road.
The downside is that as I wrote last week, the revised tax breaks for home energy improvements, given their reduced financial returns, are not likely to generate nearly as much local news or public attention. With reduced financial stimulus will come reduced communication stimulus on the issue of energy efficiency.