Global demand for energy is on the rise. As communities struggle to keep up with increasing demand and as the use of renewable energy increases, adequate transmission systems, and ample, reliable energy that minimizes environmental, social and cultural impacts is required. Finding and developing domestic energy, addressing changing community and public values, and meeting future needs with aging and innovative infrastructure can create conflict--all of which alters the expectations of stakeholders.

Kearns & West brings decades of experience working with energy stakeholders – on wind, hydro, solar and oil and natural gas issues – to address the environmental, social and cultural needs of communities and stakeholders.

Kearns & West specializes in:

Sample Projects

      California Department of Water Resources - Oroville Facilities Relicensing

      The California Department of Water Resources’ Oroville Facilities have a capacity of 3.5 million acre-feet, providing water to more than 23 million people and 750,000 acres of irrigated farmland in California. DWR sought to develop a consensus-backed Federal Energy Regulatory Commission license application in a short timeframe while overcoming a history of distrust in the community, involving more than 1,200 stakeholders, and developing a comprehensive settlement package of recreation, environmental, cultural, and community measures for the next 50 years. Kearns & West designed the stakeholder process and provided mediation, facilitation, and public involvement and outreach services to DWR. Throughout the process, Kearns & West prepared newsletters, facilitated community workshops, conducted scoping meetings, and was responsible for establishing and facilitating a recreation and socioeconomics subgroup, an environmental subgroup, a fish passage subgroup, a main settlement negotiation group, and a legal drafting group. Kearns & West worked with a diverse group of stakeholders to secure broad stakeholder support for 77 study plans, 165 technical reports, and a comprehensive settlement agreement signed by 52 state and federal agencies, local governments, water interests and environmental organizations.

      Department of Energy Oak Ridge National Laboratory - Synchronizing the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Processes for Authorizing Non-Federal Hydropower Projects

      The Department of Energy and Oak Ridge National Laboratory initiated a process with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to develop an improved, coordinated set of regulatory processes that clearly details how private developers at USACE non-powered dams should coordinate and navigate the FERC hydropower licensing process and the USACE 408 and 404 permitting processes to improve both the quality and efficiency in obtaining a license and permits. Kearns & West was engaged to facilitate the coordination between the agencies by completing interviews with key developers and agency staff on the current permitting process and the propose coordinated process, conducting a series of in-person meetings and webinars with the agencies, drafting the coordinated process graphics and narrative document, and facilitating the process to obtain feedback from the developers. The outcomes included an updated Memorandum of Agreement between FERC and USACE with a synchronized, improved set of regulatory processes.

      Duke Energy - Catawba-Wateree Hydroelectric Relicensing

      One of the country’s largest electric utilities, Duke Energy owns a complex system of 11 dams and reservoirs on the Catawba-Wateree River in North and South Carolina. Duke was required to renew the system’s operating license with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and, in doing so, to strike a balance among many competing needs and interests: electric generation needs, the river’s fish and wildlife needs, and community interests ranging from water supply to recreation. A Kearns & West team was brought in to design, manage, and facilitate a three-year stakeholder process that revolutionized how North and South Carolina’s Catawba-Wateree River Basin will be managed for the next license term. Working with a diverse group of more than 160 stakeholders, Kearns & West first developed a charter that defined roles, responsibilities, decision making, communications protocols, and more. In a process managed by Kearns & West, stakeholders participated in more than 315 meetings, assessing hundreds of management alternatives and concluding with a formal contract that incorporated recommendations signed by 70 entities. Duke received a 40-year license in 2016.

      Hunt Transmission - Southline Transmission Project

      The Southline Transmission Project is a proposed 360-mile electric transmission line in southern New Mexico and southern Arizona, intended to improve system reliability, ease congestion, and enable the development of local renewable energy generation. The project area includes both rural and urban areas and an array of federal, state, and local land uses. The Southline Transmission Project sponsors, Hunt Transmission and Black Forest Partners, engaged Kearns & West to provide public engagement strategy, design, and implementation to inform project routing, development, and supporting efforts through the permitting process. Kearns & West provided public engagement strategy and process design and conducted a stakeholder assessment, facilitated individual and small group meetings with a wide variety of stakeholders, designed and facilitated large public informational meetings and routing workshops, and developed project communication materials (fact sheets, presentations, website text, and frequently asked questions documents). This public engagement work has enabled successful relationship development between the project team and the interested stakeholders and has informed the selection of proposed and alternative project routes. The Bureau of Land Management and Western Area Power Administration, the lead federal agencies for the NEPA process, issued a Final Environmental Impact Statement and their respective Records of Decision, and the Arizona Corporate Commission issued a Certificate of Environmental Compatibility for the project. Robust work with stakeholder communities has resulted in innovative avoidance, minimization, and mitigation approaches.

      Technical Support to Develop Market Intervention Strategies for Large Scale Renewables Project Siting in New York

      New York State, has an ambitious Clean Energy Standard requiring 50% of New York’s electricity needs to be met with renewable sources by 2030. The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) Large Scale Renewables team hired Kearns & West to support development of market intervention strategies to address renewable energy project siting issues. Kearns & West designed an Audience-centered process, conducting foundational research and analysis of existing primary and secondary voice-of-customer data, integrating Kearns & West best prac¬¬tices for renewable siting, and leveraging successful intervention concepts in New York and other jurisdictions. We developed an analysis and decision-making framework for collecting additional voice-of-customer data, and supported NYSERDA’s efforts to engage with their stakeholders. Kearns & West facilitated internal strategic planning activities with NYSERDA to analyze findings in real-time, identify high-impact market intervention strategies, and select market intervention strategies that provide the greatest return-on-investment in meeting the “50% by 2030” standard.

      Portland General Electric - Cascade Crossing Transmission Project

      Portland General Electric (PGE) was exploring possible routes for a 500 kilovolt transmission line in Oregon. Kearns & West provided early-stage public engagement and ongoing process guidance; convening and facilitating a coordinated effort with PGE, federal, state and tribal agencies for the environmental analysis and permitting processes. A coordinating team and numerous working groups collaborated on the development of science-based conservation and mitigation strategies for river, stream, wetland, forest and grassland species and habitat in the project area. Kearns & West worked with the project team on the development of a strategic stakeholder involvement and communications plan, coordination and facilitation of stakeholder meetings, and conducted interviews and briefings with key stakeholders.

      Tillamook People’s Utility District - Tillamook to Oceanside Transmission Line

      The Tillamook People’s Utility District was exploring possible routes for a transmission line from Tillamook to Oceanside, Oregon. Kearns & West provided early-stage public engagement and ongoing process guidance, as well as convened and facilitated a Citizen Advisory Group (CAG) process. The CAG represented community interests while assisting the Tillamook PUD in siting the transmission line through a multi-stakeholder, collaborative process in an open and transparent forum. CAG members represented landowners; business, agricultural, and non-governmental interests; citizens at large; the city; the county; and the Tillamook PUD. Kearns & West facilitated CAG meetings, multiple public workshops, and a field trip to look at siting options on the ground. The CAG presented an overview of the process and CAG recommendations at a Tillamook PUD Board meeting.