State Policy Network
Communications case study: Caesar Rodney Institute saves Delaware’s beach view

In 2017, Maryland approved an offshore wind project that included constructing as many as 200 wind turbines along the coast between Ocean City, Maryland, and Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. Delaware beach property owners were concerned that the unsightly wind turbines and an electric power substation in Fenwick Island State Park would hurt tourism, rental income, and property values.

As the project began, the Caesar Rodney Institute launched the “Save Our Beach View” campaign to give homeowners a say in the matter. 

SPN: Tell us about your campaign.

Caesar Rodney Institute: Our strategy was to market and promote the “campaign” rather than our organization, so we came up with the name “Save Our Beach View,” a project of the Caesar Rodney Institute. Caesar Rodney Institute’s energy expert, Dave Stevenson, researched the impact this project would have on Delaware beaches. CRI promoted this research and their campaign through emails and media outreach. In November 2019, CRI crafted a letter designed to educate Delaware’s beach property owners—both residential and commercial—on the potential impacts of the impending offshore wind project. 

SPN: Who was your target audience?

Caesar Rodney Institute: We targeted our efforts to property owners and business operators on the beach front. The 2019 letter’s original signatory was “a fellow concerned Delaware beach homeowner,” which helped CRI establish a rapport with this audience. The letter was designed to build awareness on the offshore wind project and encourage Delaware residents to take action. It included a survey to gauge how Delaware residents felt and a section that asked for donations to fund the campaign.   

SPN: Describe your results. How did this project impact your audience?

Caesar Rodney Institute: The campaign generated awareness on a previously under-the-radar project, and it spurred action. CRI received 1,225 surveys, with 84 percent opposing visible wind turbines offshore. Furthermore, 408 new donors joined CRI’s supporters to resist this project, and 769 property owners joined CRI’s email lists. As a result of CRI’s campaign, the wind turbine developer and the State Parks Division withdrew the plan to use Fenwick Island State Park as an electric power substation.

For their work to save Delaware’s beach view and expand their audience, SPN recognized the Caesar Rodney Institute as a finalist for the 2020 SPN Communications Excellence Awards in the Most Influential Marketing Campaign category.

Categories: Best Practices
Policy Issues: Energy
States: Delaware
Organization: State Policy Network