Peregrine Energy Group is an energy consulting firm that has worked for more than 20 years to help cities and towns throughout New England to reduce their carbon footprint and increase their energy efficiency. Peregrine’s current focus is in Massachusetts, their home state, where they work with communities to implement and manage community choice electricity aggregation programs. Through these programs, Peregrine helps cities and towns to provide renewable electricity and electricity price stability to local residents and businesses. Peregrine’s particular expertise is working with communities focused on reducing their carbon footprint, and together, Peregrine’s clients purchase more renewable electricity than all the other cities and towns with similar programs in the state.
The programs that Peregrine helps to implement involve regular mailings to electricity customers throughout Massachusetts. The Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU), which oversees these programs, implemented a new requirement: Those mailings must include a cover sheet with instructions translated into 26 languages, including multiple character-based languages. The DPU provided the document they wished Peregrine to use, but they used machine translation to generate it. It was Peregrine’s responsibility to verify the quality of the translations before using the document.
Peregrine’s Vice President of Community programs understood the potential accuracy issues with machine translation and that their company would be held responsible by their clients, the public, and the state regulators for the final quality of the translations. She needed a professional, reputable translation resource that could handle the translations and in a relatively short period of time.
Additionally, she need the document to be customizable for each city and town client, and specifically needed to be able to insert each community name into each translated sentence. She understood that modifying sentences of translated text can also create issues, such as problems with fonts, inaccurate line breaks, and accidental text deletions. She needed the design of the document to accommodate these customizations without introducing the possibility of error.
Peregrine had already worked with Rapport on a number of translation projects and used them for on-demand phone interpreting. Rapport was the natural choice for this project.
Rapport International provides services in over 200 languages and had ready access to trusted translators for the full array of 26 required languages. Each translator was able to complete a review of the machine-translated text, which proved to be full of errors, and provided a corrected, accurate translation quickly.
Next, the project was turned over to Rapport’s foreign-language desktop publishing (DTP) specialist to determine how to create a foolproof document that could be customized without compromising the translations. The solution was to create a document with fillable form fields inserted into each translated sentence. Peregrine would be able to insert the municipality name into the form field while the translated text remained locked. Additional form fields were added elsewhere on the document to permit customization of phone numbers and web addresses without modifying other aspects of the layout.
The document then went back to all the translators to perform a final check to ensure punctuation marks and text placement remained accurate, an especially important check given that the design work had to manipulate the translations to fit them into limited space.
Because Peregrine modified the original document provided by the DPU, they were required to prove that their modification was accurate, so Rapport also provided a letter certifying the quality of the translation, which Peregrine submitted to the DPU, along with a finished copy of the file. The DPU accepted Rapport’s version of the document, and it became a public record, available for other companies in Massachusetts to use as a guide as well.
Because Rapport’s approach to the design of the document fully removed any risks associated with customization, Peregrine was able to quickly implement tailored versions of the document across all of its client communities. As a result, they were able to meet regulatory requirements on time, and ensure information access for a wide array of language speakers.
“Rapport always makes us look good, and this time, they really outdid themselves. They took a complex project and gave me back a straightforward file that I can use without worrying about whether we’re creating errors every time we use it. Additionally, their design team added polish to the layout that increased the document’s readability and professionalism. And they turned it around in time for us to meet a regulatory deadline. I knew I could trust them to do the project the right way, and they proved me right.”