Author and Wall Street Journal reporter, Katherine Blunt, will kick off the 11th Hawaii Energy Conference (HEC) sharing her research and insights from the California wildfires and the fall of Pacific Gas and Electric. Presented by the Maui Economic Development Board (MEDB), the conference will feature keynote speakers, panel discussions, case studies and an exhibit venue as it explores the theme “Reimagining Resilience” May 22-23, 2024 at Maui Arts & Cultural Center.

Keynote speaker, Katherine Blunt is the author of California Burning: The Fall of Pacific Gas and Electric and What is Means for America’s Power Grid. Blunt’s coverage of PG&E, reported in close collaboration with two colleagues, was a finalist for the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting and earned a Gerald Loeb award, the highest honor in business journalism. The series also won the 2019 Thomas L. Stokes Award for energy and environmental writing, as well as a silver Barlett & Steele award through the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism. “We believe people in Hawaii are genuinely interested in learning more about how wildfires caused the bankruptcy of PG&E so that they can see if there are lessons applicable to Hawaii,” said Doug McLeod, also a founding member of the HEC Program Committee.

With extreme weather events increasing in frequency and severity, the panels will discuss cutting edge solutions to improve resilience in the face of a rapidly changing climate. Distributed energy resources (DERs), including PV coupled with batteries, are critical tools for strengthening energy resilience in this volatile operating environment.

Katherine Blunt, a reporter for the Wall Street Journal and author of California Burning: The Fall of Pacific Gas and Electric and What it Means for America’s Power Grid

“Prioritizing energy resilience within our homes, businesses, communities and industries is critical for maintaining a reliable, accessible supply of energy while also limiting system vulnerabilities to increasing natural disasters,” said Jonathan Koehn, a founding member of the HEC Program Committee and Chief Sustainability & Resilience Officer, City of Boulder. “Resilient energy systems can also improve health, comfort, affordability and accessibility.”

Attendees will hear from experts on topics such as whether biofuels can really support resilience while lowering carbon emissions, and how resilience planning can prioritize historically marginalized and disadvantaged communities. The program will also provide an update from the Legislature and discuss the pros and cons of undergrounding and insulating electrical lines.

The HEC is supported by the County of Maui Office of Economic Development and brings together experts and thought leaders to connect and explore the latest advancements shaping the energy landscape world-wide. The Conference expects to draw participation from Hawaii, the Continental U.S., Asia-Pacific, and more for discussions on risk management, grid stability, and adaptive solutions that ensure a reliable and resilient energy supply.

Registration is now open with early bird rates available until March 31.

Maui Economic Development Board (MEDB) is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation established in 1982 with a mission to diversify Maui County’s economy, building pathways to innovation, jobs and opportunity for our residents. Through partnerships with the public and private sector, MEDB undertakes projects that assists growth industries with navigating and thriving in our county, educates and trains residents for new careers, and engages our community in forums that determine future economic directions.