After three years of virtual streaming, the Hawaii Energy Conference (HEC) is returning to the Maui Arts and Cultural Center May 24-25, 2023 for an in-person gathering. Celebrating its 10th anniversary, the conference is presented by the Maui Economic Development Board (MEDB) and will feature a mix of keynote speakers, panel discussions, case studies and an exhibit venue.
The conference will open with a keynote by Daphne Frias, a 25-year old youth activist who is a loud champion for the disabled community. Born and raised in West Harlem, NYC, Daphne has seen how minority communities are disproportionally affected by climate change — she has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair to ambulate. Daphne will speak to the innate resiliency of disabled people and how that relates to adaptation and sustainability.
“Energy is a complex topic, and it is easy to get lost in the details. We rarely get to talk about the bigger purpose of our work,” added Doug McLeod, of DKK Energy Services and a member of the HEC Program Committee. “In the first ten years of this conference, the discussion evolved from whether our planet was experiencing climate change to whether our energy policies will be enough to avoid excessive climate change. Our keynote speaker this year is part of the next generation of climate leaders. Her story and her message are inspirational.”
In 2019, Daphne was appointed as one of the North American Regional Focal Points for Sustainable Development Goal 16 at the U.N. Major Group for Children and Youth. In this position, she works to highlight and represent the voice of her fellow youth and the work they are doing to become pivotal peacemakers. As a freelance organizer, she spends her time speaking at various colleges, summits, and panels. In addition, she consults with non-profits, crafting engaging campaigns highlighting the voices of Gen-Z.
“Daphne is a really great spokesperson for personal resilience, for accessibility and she does an amazing amount of community organizing,” said Jonathan Koehn, a founding member of the HEC Program Committee and Chief Sustainability & Resilience Officer, City of Boulder. “I think it’s a good opportunity for the conference to kick-off with a discussion oriented to those who are most vulnerable in our communities.”
Daphne’s presentation will segue into a segment of panels that focus on community engagement and empowerment as it relates to energy. The discussion will look at new ways of engagement including the new participatory budgeting model and Molokai’s recently approved community-based renewable energy project.
A second focus area of the 2023 program will look at Hawaii’s clean-energy goals in which panels will question:
- It takes how long for a building permit? A discussion on the challenges and solutions of permitting for distributed energy resources like rooftop PV and lithium-ion batteries.
- What does the data say? This panel will discuss the different “100%” goals involving Renewable Energy, Carbon, and sustainability, whether Hawaii is on track to meet them and whether the focus needs to change?
- Why are large scale renewables across the US coming online slower than expected, and often at higher cost? Wren Westcoatt of Longroad Energy will lead this developers’ roundtable.
A third focus area of the 2023 Hawaii Energy Conference will look at new tools and technologies in the renewable energy domain, including geothermal, aviation fuel, energy storage, and use of hydrogen.
The HEC consistently attracts energy leaders from Hawaii, the Continental U.S., Asia-Pacific, and more exchange ideas on how to better serve our communities in today’s rapidly changing power generation and delivery environment. It is supported by the County of Maui Office of Economic Development and 2023 Sponsors: Johnson Controls, Ulupono Initiative, Hawaiian Electric, AES, Kamehameha Schools, Kauai Island Utility Cooperative, Sunrun and STEM Energy.
More program details can be viewed at www.hawaiienergyconference.com. Registration is now open with early bird rates available until March 31.