A new date, a new program and an online venue has been set for the 2020 Hawaii Energy Conference. Presented by Maui Economic Development Board (MEDB) and supported by the County of Maui Office of Economic Development, the live stream presentation will explore the theme “Imagining a Just Recovery. What would that look like for the grid?”
The in-person event was postponed mid-March, just one week before the scheduled date, due to the escalating risks and ongoing uncertainty surround COVID-19. Alternative presentation methods were explored to continue the important discussions around equity and energy in 2020.
The Hawaii Energy Conference understands our energy systems do not exist in a vacuum. COVID-19 has laid bare the stark reality of pre-existing inequalities in our society. The elderly, the poor, and minorities have suffered tremendously in the pandemic’s wake. Peaceful, sometimes violent, forms of protest make it painfully evident that an equitable or just recovery is the only path forward to heal our communities.
Not everything is bad news. The planet experienced an unexpected respite from air pollution, and a slowdown in carbon loading to the atmosphere. But the lessened impact to our ecosystem came at an extraordinary economic cost. As we move forward, what strategies will policy makers and regulators use to achieve results that benefit broad swaths of society? How will utilities and companies in the energy sector contribute?
“This Program is a free three-hour event designed to give a sample of what the discussion is like at the leading energy conference in Hawaii,” said Doug McLeod, Conference Chair. “Scott Seu, the new President and CEO of Hawaiian Electric will begin the live stream discussion at 9am HST. Those joining us will hear what he and the other speakers have to say as part of our discussion of a Just Recovery.”
Commissioners from four states will engage in a live discussion on how the pandemic has changed the priorities for Public Utility regulation across the West. Hawaii PUC Commissioner, Jennifer Potter, will moderate the discussion with Clifford Rechtschaffen (California), Mark Kolesar (Alberta) and Mark Thompson (Oregon).
The Executive Director of the Hawaii Solar Energy Association, Will Giese, will lead another panel discussion on how jobs in solar and other parts of the “clean“ energy sector can contribute to a Just Recovery.
Rachel James, Attorney with the Hawaii PUC, will lead a panel titled “Develop with Us, Not for Us.” This panel will welcome both policy and pragmatic perspectives centered on how to design and develop WITH and not just FOR communities. Panelists will discuss how societal harms exacerbated by ill-informed energy development can be remedied through co-creative clean energy design.
The final panel will explore “Leadership towards a Just Grid”. Jonathan Koehn, Chief Sustainability and Resilience Officer for the City of Boulder will lead a discussion on the big opportunities that can arise from big issues. How can we use the pain from the last few months to create a grid that works for more of society?
With the Hawaii Energy Conference going virtual it is anticipated to attract a bigger and broader audience than its traditional base of energy industry leaders from Hawai’i, Continental US, Japan and Europe. The conference serves to exchange ideas on how to better serve customers in the Islands’ rapidly changing energy environment.
Recognizing the importance of these issues across the globe, and as a Mahalo (Thank you) for all those who have supported the Conference in the past, admission for this three-hour event will be FREE. This is a unique opportunity to hear from a industry leader and innovators.