Q&A with Blake Kleaving: Launching Why Electrify website
Hoosier Energy and its 18 member-cooperatives announced the launch of the “Why Electrify” website on March 1. Designed as a member-consumer educational resource website, www.whyelectrify.com will offer resources and materials for member cooperatives to offer their communities. Blake Kleaving, Manager Energy Management Solutions, told GridLines more about the project, which has been a long-time coming.
Q: What was the impetus for creating the Why Electrify site?
A: The project actually goes back to February of 2020 when we started a new initiative with the Demand-Side Management sub-committee. Creation of the sub-committee was pre-COVID and laid the groundwork to be a member touchpoint and assist in programming and analysis for future growth.
Fast forward as we dove into a lot of program evaluations, we noticed a lack of education for member-consumers to learn about the ever-changing industry, what’s happening with technology. Where do they go? Several co-ops requested investigating a one-stop shop. Hoosier Energy offers a lot of great services and education, but they were housed in many virtual locations. So we took it upon ourselves to get approval for the creation of this project and kicked it off in February of 2021, bringing in Pioneer Utility Services, a cooperative web-design organization, and have been working on this project with their designers since March of 2021.
Q: Who helped bring the site to fruition?
A: This was cross-collaborative effort within Hoosier. We tied in with Ryan Henderson and his Emerging Energy Resources team and Environmental Services with Angie Lee and Angela Dabney. We utilized a lot of internal staff – Raina Lewis and Barbara Hirstius in Energy Management Solutions, Trina Pardue in Communications played a big role in designing the logo and we utilized Linda Margison in EER greatly. In terms of creating content, it really was a cross-division initiative to pull all the resources together.
And a lot of this was done with continued member cooperative input. We created a steering committee of member co-ops which reviewed the site, provided input on naming, the layout and the branding throughout the process. When we created the first beta version, we sent it to the committee to test, to try and break it, so at the end of the day we believe we strived to incorporate a lot of member input on the creation. It wasn’t necessarily a Hoosier Energy top-down initiative, it was a grassroots-up effort to develop the site.
Q: What’s the goal for the site?
It’s not really about promoting specific programs, like a $50 rebate on electric lawn equipment. That’s not the goal. It’s to educate the member about the technology itself — electric lawn equipment or heating and cooling technology or farm beneficial electrification — then direct them back to their local co-op for more information.
We’re really excited because the website isn’t just for the end consumer, it’s also for member cooperative staff. So if co-op staff, a customer service rep or a member service rep is interested in learning more about beneficial electrification or solar or micro grids, we have resources for them to dive into. We vet the website’s information so they’re not engaging in biased general information from the web. It has a utility lens on it, and we can provide information from NRECA, IEC, Beneficial Electrification League, etc.
Q: What does the future of the site look like?
A: I think one of the largest pieces of our industry is that it is changing every day. With this website, we don’t want to be static. If you visit the site, there are a lot of different resources about distributed generation, renewable energy credits, microgrids, battery technology and so on. We want to grow not only a library of resources but include what’s new and trending.