Energy wind turbine flag

Published on March 24th, 2008 | by Maria Surma Manka


Branded Wind Farms: The American Way?

wind turbine flagAn eight-turbine wind farm will open in Panhandle, Texas in May. But instead of referring to it as “that Panhandle wind farm,” it will be have a branded, corporate name: “The Wege Wind Energy Farm, provided by Steelcase.”


Steelcase, a large furniture company out of Michigan, has agreed ahead of time to buy all of the wind farm’s renewable energy credits (RECs) for the first five years it’s in operation. Steelcase also paid a premium to name the farm after Peter Wege, the son of the founder of Steelcase and a big environmentalist.

Going greener isn’t new for the company, which aims to cut its carbon footprint 25 percent by 2012. The RECs from the Wege Wind Energy Farm will offset the equivalent of about 20 percent of the company’s power.

While one could be argued that the name “Wege” doesn’t mean anything to people outside of Michigan therefore is bad branding, many clean energy supporters and business people alike predict this naming trend will continue. Andrew Winston, an environmental consultant and author, told the New York Times:

The demand for wind power and for R.E.C.’s is out pacing the supply, so I won’t be surprised to see more companies trying to lock up the renewable energy credits that become available.

Building a utility-scale wind farm isn’t cheap: Turbines are at least $1 million a piece, there are legal fees, permits, construction costs and coordination and planning with the utility and transmission arrangements. More money invested in exchange for naming rights may not be a bad idea, especially for smaller-scale projects in rural communities. Bradley W. Johnson, John Deere’s director for business development and the builder of the Wege Wind Energy Farm, sees the branding of wind farms as a good thing:

This is a new business model, and it could attract any brand that wants to be linked with sustainability. Imagine the G.M. wind farm, the Apple wind farm — it’s not unthinkable at all.

New York Times
Wind Energy Weekly
Photo credit: NREL

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About the Author

I hail from Saint Paul, Minnesota, home to a region full of renewable energy potential and innovation. A public relations professional by day and blogger by night, I have a background in energy policy and communications. I'm particularly interested in the private sector's leadership and innovations in renewable energy - I cover this in my personal blog, Maria Energia. I enjoy traveling, reading, downhill skiing, scuba diving, and anything related to food (growing it, hunting it, cooking it, eating it). Fun fact: I make a 2-second appearance in An Inconvenient Truth (at the 2 minute mark, I'm the girl who is riveted.)

4 Responses to Branded Wind Farms: The American Way?

  1. Mike McGrady says:

    " . . . it could attract any brand that wants to be linked with sustainablity."

    Or any brand that wants to be linked with defrauding the public.

  2. Pingback: “White Nose Syndrome” in Bats Stalls Wind Farm : Red, Green, and Blue

  3. Pingback: “White Nose Syndrome” in Bats Delays Wind Farm Development | ecopolitology

  4. Shawn H. says:

    Three of us are starting a non profit business which we are starting small but we will eventually be moving to the windfarms in which we have over $2 million and several acres of land. I think if Obama wants to go green and this will help others..why not?

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