Navigating NIMBYism

Navigating NIMBYism


Clean energy is having its moment. From solar and wind generation to battery energy storage, EV’s and e-bikes, clean energy tech is getting interest from consumers and investors at unprecedented levels. Supply chains are recovering from the pandemic, technology and manufacturing capacity are accelerating, and costs are dropping as governments and consumers of all sizes expand investments in affordable, reliable, clean energy resources. As these tailwinds accelerate development of renewable energy, NIMBYism is emerging as clean energy’s most formidable obstacle in the near term.

Standing for “Not In My Backyard,” NIMBYism is the resistance or opposition of local residents to the development of infrastructure projects, particularly those related to renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, and energy storage. For every new development announcement, you can find several stories of solar arrays and battery storage systems rejected by city or county officials, proposed legislation to limit traditional tools like eminent domain for new interconnection lines, and preemption laws banning offshore wind in locations where, due to poor conditions, development is not even under consideration. These are just a few examples of opposition movements that are manifesting everywhere from tribal land advocates opposed to minerals extraction for technology components, to HOA’s who don’t want their neighbors to have rooftop solar or EV chargers in driveways.

Critics complain that solar installations take too much land away from wildlife and agriculture.

Accelerate Clean Energy Progress

The roots of NIMBYism stem from various factors including perceived environmental impacts, property devaluation fears, and aesthetic considerations. It’s important to remember that NIMBY motivations vary widely from place to place and among diverse stakeholder groups. Issues and perspectives can be deeply rooted in place based and cultural antecedents that need to be understood. Equally we need to recognize that there are organized, well-funded, and intentional efforts to foment NIMBY sentiment through disinformation and misinformation.

As we seek to accelerate progress towards greener energy alternatives to combat climate change, understanding and effectively addressing NIMBY concerns is paramount. Addressing the challenges posed by NIMBY movements requires a thoughtful and multifaceted approach that prioritizes proactive communication, community engagement, and strategic marketing initiatives.

Essense has worked with state agencies, infrastructure companies, and utilities to develop tailored public engagement strategies that fostered community trust and support, leading to increased adoption of clean energy technology and advance climate, energy, and economic goals.

Learn more about how we can help achieve your clean energy goals at

Maximizing EVSE Brand Value

Maximizing EVSE Brand Value

Rapid Growth and Market Consolidation

On March 26th, the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) announced $25 million in funding through the Inflation Reduction Act for electrical vehicle supply equipment (EVSE), at 33 federal buildings across 21 states. This investment will fund the development of 782 new charge ports to power the federal government’s growing electric vehicle fleet. This marks the latest raft of multimillion dollar opportunities in the rapidly growing and increasingly competitive EVSE market

With EVSE market size projected to grow from $6.79 billion in 2023 to $8.67 billion in 2024 at a CAGR of 27.7%, EV charging is one of the hottest markets in the world right now. As demand for EVSE grows, increased consolidation through mergers and acquisitions (M&A) is expected as smaller EVSE companies are being acquired by larger players at eye popping valuations. Many of the early movers and regional players in the EVSE space are being analyzed by investors and larger firms and working to position their companies to take the next step in their growth and success.

Maximizing Your Company’s Value

Positioning an EVSE company for acquisition at the highest possible valuation is informed by several strategic factors including differentiation through technology and innovation, a scalable business model with growth potential, and demonstrated financial performance and operational efficiency. While these factors are paramount for success, an often-overlooked element is equally critical: marketing strategy and brand recognition.

Building a strong brand presence and market leadership in specific geographic regions or technology segments of the EVSE industry can significantly enhance M&A valuation. Companies that are recognized as industry leaders and trusted providers of high-quality products and services are more likely to attract M&A interest from larger players seeking to bolster their brand portfolios. Investing in marketing, branding initiatives, and customer engagement strategies can help EVSE companies enhance their visibility, reputation, and perceived value in the eyes of potential acquirers.

Here are 4 strategies for building a strong brand presence and establishing market leadership in the EVSE industry.

Brand Differentiation and Positioning

  • Define a clear brand identity that sets your company apart from competitors. Identify unique selling propositions (USPs) such as advanced technology, reliability, sustainability, or user experience.
  • Develop a compelling brand story that resonates with target audiences, emphasizing your company’s mission, values, and commitment to driving EV adoption.
  • Position your brand as a leader in specific segments of the EVSE market, whether it’s fast-charging solutions, residential charging stations, or network management software.

Customer Experience and Engagement

  • Prioritize customer experience by delivering seamless and user-friendly EVSE solutions. Focus on intuitive user interfaces, reliable performance, and responsive customer support.
  • Establish direct communication channels with customers through websites, mobile apps, social media, and email newsletters. Provide informative content, educational resources, and updates on product enhancements and promotions.
  • Solicit feedback from customers and incorporate their input into product development and service improvements.
  • Build a community of EV enthusiasts and advocates who can amplify your brand message and contribute to brand loyalty.

Thought Leadership and Industry Influence

  • Position your company as a thought leader and expert authority in the EVSE industry by sharing insights, research findings, and thought-provoking content through blogs, whitepapers, webinars, and speaking engagements.
  • Participate in industry events, conferences, and trade shows to network with key stakeholders, showcase your expertise, and stay abreast of industry developments.
  • Engage with media outlets, industry publications, and online forums to contribute to discussions on EV technology, policy, and market trends.
  • Build relationships with journalists and influencers to secure media coverage and amplify your brand visibility.

Strategic Partnerships and Alliances

  • Forge strategic partnerships and alliances with EV manufacturers, utilities, automotive OEMs, government agencies, and other stakeholders in the EV ecosystem.
  • Collaborate on joint marketing campaigns, co-branded initiatives, and integrated solutions to leverage each partner’s strengths and reach a broader audience.
  • Align your brand with reputable and influential organizations in the EV industry to enhance credibility, visibility, and market access.

Energy Expertise Matters

By working with an experienced energy marketing and communications partner to implement these strategies effectively, EVSE companies can establish a strong brand presence, foster market leadership, and differentiate themselves in the competitive landscape of the EV industry. Essense works with energy technology innovators, industry leaders, and the investment community to build successful companies, brands, and portfolios that advance the clean energy transition. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help position your company for success.

Virtual Power Plants

Virtual Power Plants

A New Era in Energy Services

The energy sector is experiencing the most transformative and exciting era since its creation. The developing market for virtual power plant services represents the culmination of several technological advancements intersecting to realize a new paradigm in energy services that empowers energy consumers like never before and demands a reinvention of utility customer engagement strategy.

With the maturation of grid-interactive devices and controls combined with the rapid decline in costs for distributed generation and battery storage, buildings are no longer the end of the line for electrons, but a two-way street. Leveraging a distributed energy resource management system (DERMS) platform, enhanced interconnectivity can turn our built environment into grid-scale generation, storage, and demand response assets. Utilities increasingly find that behind-the-meter investments in grid-interconnected buildings and devices are not just a value-added service for their customers, but a cost-effective investment in the energy system as a whole with far-reaching economic and social benefits.

Solving Old Problems and Creating Shared Value

Inefficient use of energy in buildings is a burden on everyone, generating higher utility costs for consumers, exacerbating strain on the grid, and increasing public costs for housing and energy bill assistance programs. The causes and impacts of energy burden are varied, systemic, and not equitably borne, but they do ripple out across every facet of our economy. Despite the shared societal impact created by energy insecurity, our traditional approach to energy service models tended to view investments in demand-side management as a form of charity to building occupants as opposed to an investment in overall grid stability and cost management.

The concept of a virtual power plant, weaving together grid-interactive and efficient buildings to provide scalable load management and demand response capacity, flips the script on this dynamic and provides a cost-effective and quantifiable business case for investing in building infrastructure. Virtual plants not only turn energy sinks into load shaping, energy storage, and energy supply assets but they also create new revenue streams and capitalization models for single and multifamily developers, property owners, housing authorities, and other market actors. A shared benefit of this model is that it can also support expanded access to healthy and affordable housing.


Minding the Trust Gap

Perhaps the most significant challenge to realizing these investments is neither technical nor financial, but cultural. For example, strategic investments in virtual power plant capacity in communities bearing the brunt of energy insecurity would yield the greatest benefit to the grid, the building occupants, and the broader economy. However, most of these customers do not believe their energy providers have their best interest at heart and are highly skeptical of furthering their financial entanglements with them, let alone entrusting them with control over the key energy systems they depend on inside their own homes.  

Historically, utilities have not enjoyed high levels of trust among their customers. While this has improved in recent years with increased investments in communications, there is still a long way to go. A study conducted by the Association of Energy Services Professionals and Essense Partners found that on average only 17% of customers participate in available demand response programs. These participation rates are not nearly sufficient to realize virtual power plant capacity at scale, which is essential to managing the growing demand for electricity and mitigating the threat of increasingly frequent, unpredictable, and devastating climate change events.  

A Fresh Approach Can Yield a Fresh Start

Not only are virtual power plants a viable path to meeting the prevailing technical challenges facing the utility industry, they also offer a valuable opportunity for utilities to redefine their brand and establish a new and more profitable relationship with their customers. An old expression popular among utilities was that their services and their role stop at the meter. The same can be said from the customer’s perspective. Their energy needs are in their homes and places of work, and traditionally their interest and understanding of energy stopped on their side of the meter as well. For utilities and customers, those days are over.

Whereas investments in a new power plant or distant transmission lines can feel remote or abstract to consumers, virtual power plant technology brings utility investment into consumers’ homes and workplaces. Investments in building efficiency, onsite generation and storage, smart devices, and controls feel real to consumers because they directly and immediately serve their needs. It’s technology they can see, feel, and engage with. These are resources that increase their comfort, control, and satisfy the growing need for a sense of security and reliability in the face of extreme weather, rolling blackouts, and other external threats.

Recent research finds that pro-social, pro-environmental, and service-oriented investments are the surest path to increasing consumer trust. These attributes are inherent in building out virtual power plant capacity, which are much more than smart tech. A virtual power plant means diversified and dynamic customer services, combatting climate change and mitigating its impact, creating healthier communities, and redressing disparity in housing and environmental justice. In short, virtual power plants are an investment in consumers and communities. The payoff is earning trust while building a stronger energy system.

Change is Here, Are You Ready?

The technological shifts underpinning virtual power plants is already underway. Automakers have officially entered the energy services space. Renewable energy and battery storage manufacturing is growing worldwide and poised for major breakthroughs in performance and cost efficiency. Big tech is looking to harness their data analytics capabilities to give consumers’ the kind of real time energy management capability that will make going off-grid an increasingly realistic option. Disruption is coming for the energy sector.

The future of energy services will be defined by increased transaction and collaboration between utilities, energy consumers, and third-party technology and service providers. The utilities that are successful will be those that evolve and position themselves as trustworthy stewards of the transition rather than obstacles to it. That evolution begins with reinventing the utility relationship with its customers and working to build trust-based collaborative partnerships with them and their technology providers. Essense Partners is committed to working with our clients and peers to develop these new engagement models, create new brand strategies, and help build a cleaner, more resilient, and more equitable energy system.

Navigating ESG Politics

Navigating ESG Politics

The ESG Conundrum

The rise of ESG management principles in corporate culture has been a slow steady climb over decades. ESG’s fall from favor as buzzy business speak has been nothing short of meteoric. A large and encompassing concept, it became an easy target for the all-consuming culture wars. Framed as a trendy diversion from profitability on the right and an unverifiable pastiche of corporate social responsibility lending to greenwashing on the left, the short shelf-life of ESGs acronymic brand value was predictable.

However, when you peer behind the letters, engaging with an environmental, social, and governance framework is ultimately about tracking and managing your operational costs, defining your corporate culture, and creating a management structure that mitigates risk and fosters innovation; in short, ESG is about taking a responsible approach to operations and investment. These concepts are not going out of fashion among the global investment community, business regulators, or increasingly choosy and values-driven workers and consumers. Indeed, each of these stakeholder groups are placing ever higher priority on the particular aspects of responsible business practices, and they want to see the receipts.

Which puts companies and portfolio managers in a double conundrum. How do they track, manage, and detail the impact and value of their responsible (ESG) investments? And how do they talk about their sustainability credentials and accomplishments without talking about “ESG” the brand boogeyman? In both cases the devil and the payoff are in the details. Let’s consider the E, S and G individually as each present its own challenges and value.

Unpacking E, S and G

E: Environmental

Environmental impact tracking poses a daunting data gathering challenge, requiring robust infrastructure and methodologies. Establishing systems to monitor emissions, resource consumption, and waste generation is crucial. Companies must invest in technology and expertise to build this infrastructure, enabling them to quantify their environmental footprint accurately and identify areas for improvement. A costly and cumbersome process at the outset, but potentially saving millions in operations while bolstering public credibility.

S: Social

Social is the most fuzzy and contentious element of ESG. At its core, social policies are about what kind of culture a company wants to create, the people it wants to attract, and the values it wants to project as a member of a broader society. Whatever the corporate culture, authenticity and consistency is paramount. Effective internal communication channels and holistic employee engagement initiatives foster a cohesive corporate culture and help enhance the company’s reputation and build stakeholder trust.

G: Governance

Governance is often overshadowed relative to its acronymic cohorts. But governance, meaning leadership structure and representation, transparency, and accountability, is where the biggest and most consequential business risks are managed. Failure to do so can result in catastrophic losses and irreversible reputational damage. Implementing strong and transparent governance practices can go a long way to building stakeholder confidence and attracting top talent, mission aligned investors, and lucrative partnerships.

Details Make All the Difference

ESG, sustainability, resilience, these are just the latest expressions of long-established evidence-based management principles in pursuit of what business strategist John Elkington termed “the triple bottom line” 30 years ago in 1994. Whatever the term, at their most fundamental, these responsible investment frameworks acknowledge that successful ventures must recognize the inherent value of operating and investing in ways that benefit people and the planet while still generating profit. As markets have borne out the validity and security of these practices, what were once innovative trends are now so in demand and increasingly expected that they are moving into regulatory requirement.

In readying for the inevitable future of climate and social impact reporting and storytelling, companies need to invest tracking ESG initiatives, progress, and accomplishments. By tracking their responsible investments, and meticulously managing data, companies and investors gain valuable insights into operational costs, corporate culture, and management’s ability to mitigate risks and spur innovation. Armed with these details, companies can more readily navigate a politically fraught landscape while staying authentic to their values, transparently communicating their sustainability efforts, and actively engaging with stakeholders. By focusing on the real substance of their ESG initiatives, companies can bolster credibility and resilience in the face of scrutiny.

A Partner in Your ESG Journey

Essense has seen these benefits firsthand. We work with clients to aggregate performance data and uncover the stories that can get lost in the numbers to craft compelling sustainability reports. We have also developed digital tools, apps, and communications platforms that enable companies to implement social and governance policies and achieve ESG goals. Finally, we work with our clients to authentically integrate their sustainable, resilient, and responsible business practices into their brand identity and marketing strategy. Our sister company, BuildRI, provides a platform service that rolls up these practices to provide a portfolio level view of responsible investing metrics for private equity companies.

If your company is looking for a partner to help navigate your ESG journey and make your responsible investments work for you, contact our team today.