Reimagining Resilience: Hawaii Energy Conference May 22-23

Reimagining Resilience: Hawaii Energy Conference May 22-23

In a world where extreme weather events are increasing in severity and frequency, prioritizing energy resilience for homes, businesses, and communities is the only path forward to maintain a reliable and accessible supply of energy. The 11th Annual Hawaii Energy Conference will explore cutting-edge solutions to improve resilience in the face of a rapidly changing climate.

The conference will be held at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center from May 22-23 and will bring together experts in the field to share their knowledge and experiences.

“When we last got together in May 2023 the world looked very different,” said Doug McLeod of DKK Energy Services and a member of the Conference Program Committee. “Our focus for May 2024 is resilience. For me the conference will be a success if it gets people talking about not just how to rebuild the same grid with lower fire risks, but how we can consider other risks like hurricane, tsunami, and land-based quakes as we rethink the grid.”

Wall Street Journal Reporter Katherine Blunt will present the opening Keynote. Blunt is the author of California Burning: The Fall of Pacific Gas and Electric and What it Means for America’s Power Grid; She has covered power, renewable energy and utilities for The Wall Street Journal since 2018 with much of her work focused on wildfires, drought and other challenges facing utilities in the West.


Fueling the Future – a look at the difference between biodiesel, renewable diesel, renewable natural gas, and other biofuels. Can these fuels really help with resilience, and do they lower carbon emissions?

Resilience for Vulnerable Populations – Protecting vulnerable populations, including when designing microgrids, planning for distributed energy resource (DER) systems, and implementing power shutoff plans.

Powering Progress: What’s needed for a Resilient and Dynamic Energy Future – Perspectives on what has been achieved and what gaps need to be filled to ensure continued progress for Hawaii.

Resilient Solar – Innovations in residential solar. What are the installers in Hawaii doing to meet the needs of their customers? What are some island-by-island differences?

Using Virtual Power Plants to Support Resilience – A discussion of Virtual Power Plants (VPPs) and the new Hawaii Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) program. The panel will discuss the recent VPP Commercial Liftoff Report from the US Dept of Energy, lessons learned in Hawaii from the successes of the Battery Bonus Program, and challenges as we move ahead under the new BYOD Tariff. The Panel will also premiere a VPP Model Tariff and Legislation.

Centering Equity in Resilience Planning – Resilience planning must be culturally appropriate, participatory, and responsive to local needs. This panel will explore successful efforts to center equity in efforts to build resilience in our infrastructure, natural systems, social systems and communities.

Workforce Development and Energy Resilience – Do we have the labor force we need to increase resilience? Using the apprenticeship requirements of the Inflation Reduction Act to maximize benefits to the community from larger scale renewable energy projects.

Pathways for Geothermal Energy – Is more geothermal energy a good way to increase resilience? What other areas in Hawaii have a viable resource and how have the views of Native Hawaiian groups evolved toward geothermal energy.

Resilient Transportation – Are Electric Vehicles (EVs) part of the answer to increasing resilience? What is the status of the various technologies to allow Vehicle to Grid and Vehicle to Home power transfer.

Resilient Housing and Energy – Energy needs for resilient housing. What are some of the lessons learned since the August 2023 fires?

The panel discussions will be broken up with featured presentations and case studies. There will be an exhibit venue featuring the latest renewable energy technologies and services, as well as social events to facilitate networking and collaboration.

The Hawaii Energy Conference brings together experts and thought leaders to explore the latest advancements shaping the energy landscape including risk management, grid stability, and adaptive solutions that ensure a reliable and resilient energy supply. The cross-section of attendees include: renewable energy industry professionals; developers and contractors interested in microgrids and off-grid; workforce development experts and organized labor representatives; those interested in the intersection between energy and housing; climate and energy policymakers and regulators; entrepreneurs and innovators; and environmentalists and sustainability advocates.

“As the first state in the union to set a goal of getting to 100% renewables instead of fossil fuels, Hawaii positioned itself as a leader in the energy arena,” commented Jacqui Hoover, Conference Chair and Executive Director and COO Hawaii Island Economic Development Board (HIEDB); and President Hawaii Leeward Planning. “While great strides have been made with approximately 35% of Hawaii’s energy needs being met by renewables, navigating to the target date of 2045 to achieve 100% penetration is complex. The Hawaii Energy Conference provides opportunity for attendees to engage in comprehensive and thoughtful discussion with representatives from every corner of the energy sector and set the stage for forward-thinking policy and advancement towards energy self-sufficiency and sustainability.”

Katherine Blunt, Author and Wall Street Journal Reporter
Jacqui Hoover, Conference Chair and Executive Director and COO Hawaii Island Economic Development Board (HIEDB); and President Hawaii Leeward Planning
Doug McLeod, Member Conference Program Committee, DKK Energy Services

Program details and registration can be viewed at An advance rate offers savings to those registering before May 15.

The Hawaii Energy Conference is presented by the Maui Economic Development Board (MEDB) with the support of the County of Maui Office of Economic Development. 2024 Sponsors are: Ulupono Initiative, Hawaii Natural Energy Institute (HNEI), Ulupono Initiative, HNEI, Aukahi Energy, Burns & McDonnell, Hawaii Energy/Leidos, Hawaiian Electric, IBEW Local Union 1186, Island Energy Services, Moss & Associates, Par Hawaii, TerraForm Power, AES, Canadian Solar, Generac, Hawaii Gas, HNU Energy, J&M Distributed Solutions, Jurchen Technologies, Kauai Island Utility Coop, NovaTech, Pacific Panel Cleaners, Puna Geothermal Ventures and Trio Energy Alliance.

Conference to explore the Energy Transition in Hawaii

Conference to explore the Energy Transition in Hawaii

The 8th Hawaii Energy Conference will again be virtual in 2021 and will explore the “Energy Transition in Hawaii: Focus on investments in people and projects.” Presented by Maui Economic Development Board (MEDB) and supported by the County of Maui Office of Economic Development, the annual conference will feature keynotes, panel discussions, interviews and exhibits over two days – June 22 and 24.

With in-person gatherings still limited due to COVID-19, the virtual presentation allows the energy industry leaders from Hawaii, the Continental U.S., Japan and Europe to continue to exchange ideas on how to better serve the community in today’s rapidly changing power generation and delivery environment.

Doug McLeod, Chair of the Conference Program Committee

“In Hawai’i we are approaching the renewable energy ‘tipping point’ where most of the daytime energy on the grid comes from renewable energy,” said Doug McLeod, Chair of the Hawaii Energy Conference Program Committee. “2021 promises to be another year of big change in the energy sector both in Hawaii and the rest of the nation.”

There are many ways to invest in the future of energy in Hawaii. It will take creativity and hard work from project developers; the community, including indigenous groups; regulators; and energy service providers to come up with projects that are acceptable for all concerned. Building trust and respect between stakeholders within the context of equitable community development will be a key metric of success. Any viable project will require substantial amounts of financial capital and an adequate return on investment. The skill development and job creation that results must take us towards a new energy economy.

Every community faces similar challenges – how can we invest in people while designing energy projects that are financially viable, resilient, and enhance job skills?

Frank De Rego, Jr., Program Committee Vice Chair and Director of Business Development Projects at MEDB

“Hawaii faces increased conflict in siting utility-scale energy projects – a challenged shared by many communities in the U.S.” added Frank De Rego, Jr., Director of Business Development Projects, MEDB, and Vice Chairman of Program Committee.  “For many consumers the essential question is, ʻWhen will all of us experience the tangible benefits of the new energy transition?’ Good question.”

The conference will also include a virtual exhibit hall for companies to showcase their products and services and connect with attendees. Networking has been a key feature of the Hawaii Energy Conference since its inception in 2014 and the virtual platform will be open in advance, encouraging attendees to connect and build important relationships prior to, during and after the conference.

More details on the program and speakers will be released in the coming months in the countdown to June 22.

For information on how to register and other details, visit:

Maui Energy Conference – 5 Years Later

Maui Energy Conference – 5 Years Later

Maui energy conference keynote

Alice Madden, Executive Director, Getches-Wilkinson Center for Natural Resources and former Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, U.S. Department of Energy

The Maui Energy Conference returns to the Maui Arts and Cultural Center on March 14-15, celebrating its Fifth Anniversary.

Alice Madden, Executive Director of the Getches-Wilkinson Center for Natural Resources, Energy, and the Environment at Colorado Law and keynote speaker at the first Maui Energy Conference in 2014, will open this year’s second day with a reflection on the tremendous changes that have occurred in Hawaii and the nation’s energy landscape over the last five years.

Alice started her distinguished career as a lawyer, specializing in employment, civil rights and anti-discrimination law. Elected to the Colorado House of Representatives in 2000, she served as Majority Leader from 2005 – 2008. Her legislative priorities included helping build the foundation for a sustainable energy economy.

Subsequently, Alice served as Climate Change Advisor and Deputy Chief of Staff to former Colorado Governor Bill Ritter and later held the Timothy E. Wirth Chair in Sustainable Development at CU Denver.  In 2013, she accepted an appointment to the U.S. Department of Energy where she served as the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Intergovernmental & External Affairs.

Her current priorities at the Getches-Wilkinson Center for Natural Resources, Energy and the Environment include bridging the gap between research and practice by drawing on the perspectives of diverse stakeholders.

The Maui Energy Conference is presented by Maui Economic Development Board Inc. (MEDB) and supported by the Maui County Mayor’s Office of Economic Development.  The in-depth conference sessions and ample networking opportunities aim to provide valuable resources for participants. As Hawaii’s leading homegrown energy conference, it attracts more than 300 energy industry leaders from Hawaii, the Continental U.S., Asia, and Europe.

The 2018 Conference theme is Decarbonization: A Business Opportunity for Innovative Communities.

Session topics include exploring technical innovations in energy storage, an economic analysis of utility PV customers as they respond to new policies on distributed energy, the future of ground and maritime transportation, and the potential of carbon farming techniques in agriculture.

“The challenges that increasing levels of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere present to our environment also provide innovative communities, from Hawaii to New York, with new business opportunities,” remarked Frank De Rego Jr, Director of Business Development Projects at MEDB and Vice-Chair of the Program Committee. “The key is to seize those opportunities and make them work.”

The 2018 Maui Energy Conference sponsors include Ulupono Initiative, a Hawaii-focused impact investing firm that uses investments to improve the quality of life for Island residents and Hitachi, Ltd., a company who has conducted important research in Hawaii to improve the stability of the electric grid through a system that employs electric vehicles.

The full list of conference sponsors include: Ulupono Initiative, Hitachi, County of Maui, Hawaii Energy/Leidos, Hawaii Natural Energy Institute, Hawaii State Energy Office, Hawaiian Electric Companies, Sempra Renewables, Amber Kinetics, Ameresco, Gridworks, Kauai Island Utility Cooperative, Kevala, Ohm Energy Technologies, Steffes, and Tabuchi Electric.



Discovering Resilience in Sustainability

Discovering Resilience in Sustainability

Maui Energy Conference

Creating a Resilient Energy Economy Panel L to R Cheryl Roberto, Kush Patel, Aki Marceau and Moderator Luis Salaveria of DBEDT.

The fourth annual Maui Energy Conference, held March 22-24, 2017 at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center, broadened its focus this year to become a timely and innovative forum as the state continues its transition to a 100-percent clean-energy system by 2045. The conference theme, All Things Energy: Pursuing Opportunities for Electricity and Beyond, explored resilient and sustainable pathways that require the participation of all sectors. The program included keynote speakers, a session featuring case studies, and an exhibition hall to view various products and services, with ample networking time.

Hosted by the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development and Maui Economic Development Board (MEDB), the conference focused was on the human impact of the decisions we make to create a renewable, clean energy system that is strong but adaptable.

“Energy regulators and others need to communicate new decisions to the public in terms the average person can understand,” said Hawaii Public Utilities Commission Chairman Randy Iwase. “It’s not just making those tough choices that matters, it’s also explaining to the public why they were made.”

Record-Breaking Attendance

380 attendees, including utility executives, clean energy advocates, urban planners, transportation specialists, renewable energy providers, state and local government officials, and national and international experts in several fields, participated in discussions about Hawaii’s energy future. Mercedes-Benz, one of several international companies, reviewed its battery storage project in Germany to improve the environmental footprint of electric vehicles and make e-mobility more cost efficient.

The challenge of achieving decarbonized energy production and maintaining an energy system that is reliable, safe, affordable, secure, and resilient, is formidable. Resilience, this year’s conference buzz word, suggests toughness and the ability to bounce back from catastrophic circumstances.  Since the last energy conference, Hawaii has seen a failed merger of electric utilities and several near misses from hurricanes, therefore resilience and sustainability formed the framework for discussing the challenges faced by utilities and the other energy stakeholders.

“The Maui Energy Conference ventured out into new territory this year, looking beyond the challenges of electricity and the grid to investigate transportation and other uses of energy that affect our pocketbook and quality of life,” said Frank De Rego Jr., Director of Business Development projects at MEDB and member of the conference Program Committee.  “The keynote, by Guillermo Penalosa, founder and Chair of the Board, 8 80 Cities, set the tone and all the sessions explored how the resilience of our energy systems impacts our lives. An important take-away from the conference is the critical function of urban design and planning as Maui County moves forward to create prosperous and healthy communities.”

Keynote Speaker Gil Penalosa

Penalosa launched the event with his talk on Creating Vibrant, Healthy, and Resilient Communities for All. “If you create a great city for an 8 year old and an 80 year old, you will create a successful city for all people.” he said. His innovative concept involves the use of more parks and sustainable mobility: walking, riding bicycles, and public transit.

“We seem to be facing a perfect storm of threats and challenges, but in every challenge lies opportunity,” Penalosa noted.

“How we plan, build and cultivate a healthy city life for people of all ages, abilities, and socio-economic backgrounds have never been more important than it is today. As Hawaii pursues efforts to reduce its carbon footprint in the electricity and transportation sectors there are opportunities to build healthier, happier communities.”

Panel’s Discuss the Future for Energy

A panel discussion on Emerging Trends in Hawaii Energy Policy offered a look into Maui County’s current situation. Maui Mayor Alan M. Arakawa noted that last year’s study, the Guernsey Report, suggested the county should work with a private company to take over the electric grid from Maui Electric.

Maui Energy Conference

Mayor Alan Arakawa discusses the Emerging Trends in Hawaii Energy Policy with Alan Oshima, Hawaii Electric Company and Doug McLeod, Conference Program Committee Chair.

“The study did its job and certainly made an impact on the industry,” said the Mayor. “We’re definitely still looking at alternatives. It was never about replacing MECO, it was about what can be most beneficial to the county. We’re still looking at different changes to the grid system and different types of energies. At the same time, the county has seen the electric company working with the community and exploring ways the community can generate their own electricity.”

Brian Kealoha, Hawaii Energy Executive Director said,  “We’re excited to continue the dialogue about our state’s 100-percent clean-energy goal, including all the elements that need to be put into place in order to make that a reality. It’s important for stakeholders who set policy to be able to have these conversations, hear different ideas and strategies that may be available to us from around the globe, as well as learn from other working models. These discussions will help us make smarter energy decisions and focus on what we need to do as a state to accomplish our objectives.”

Hawaii Energy’s case study highlighted a few of their success stories that showcase their commitment to helping small businesses lower operating costs through energy efficiency. “Small businesses are the backbone of Hawaii’s economic vitality and resilience,” Kealoha said. “Through programs developed specifically for them, Hawaii Energy has already helped over 400 Maui County businesses become energy efficient before moving on to photovoltaics and energy storage.”

“Our energy future has to be viewed through the lens of security and resilience,” agreed Scott Seu, Senior Vice President, Public Affairs, Hawaiian Electric Company. “A secure and resilient nation is one with the capabilities required across the whole community to prevent, protect against, mitigate, respond to, and recover from the threats and hazards that pose the greatest risk.”

Shayna Decker, Director, Communications Maui Electric, observed, “As we continue to make progress toward our state’s clean energy goals, we recognize that changing the way we operate is essential. We also know that it will take everyone working together. The Maui Energy Conference provides the opportunity to network, learn and partner with other entities who share our vision — government leaders, businesses, community members and organizations, and environmental groups — to secure a clean-energy future for Hawaii.”

Decker added, “This year, the conference discussions went beyond electric energy and highlighted how energy, food, water, and transportation are intertwined. This presents all of us with tremendous opportunities to find solutions together to move us forward.”

About 50 speakers presented, debated and discussed the broad resilience theme over the three days. “Urban design dictates lifestyle, and lifestyle has a huge impact on people’s energy footprint,” said Jonathan Koehn, Conference Program Committee member and Regional Sustainability Coordinator of the City of Boulder. “There are so many ways that physical infrastructure around us influences our energy choices.”

Maui Energy Conference

The Panel discusses the Water Energy Food Security Nexus L to R – Jeffrey Pearson, Rick Volner, Kyle Data and Paul Brewbaker

Koehn moderated a panel discussion featuring Paul Brewbaker of TZ Economics, Kyle Datta of Ulupono Initiative, Jeffrey Pearson of the state Commission on Water Resource Management and Rick Volner, General Manager of diversified agriculture for A&B. The panel explored the nexus between agricultural production, water use, and energy production.

Volner said, “With the successful closure of sugar operations in 2016, A&B is currently implementing diversified agricultural and renewable-energy opportunities on the former sugarcane land. For example, we are looking at raising cattle and working with local farmers, besides developing renewable-energy projects.”

Kyle Datta of Ulupono Initiative said, “Hawaii is just beginning a critical conversation about the role of water in energy resiliency and sustainability. When sugar was cultivated, agriculture used the majority of surface water on Maui. We mined our groundwater reserves to meet our needs.”

“Our current course is unsustainable,” Datta noted. “We supply very little local food but 26 percent renewable energy with marginal business models from a prior century. What is the cost-benefit of reinvesting in watersheds?” he asked.

Theodore Peck, Executive Officer and Lead Developer of Holu Energy, presented two case studies of commercial on-grid microgrids operational in Hawaii with third-party ownership, integrating photovoltaics and energy storage systems to create multiple value streams on both sides of the meter.

“The days of reviewing a single utility bill are over,” Peck said. “A fully integrated distributed energy resource ecosystem provides value to all stakeholders. Synchronization is the game-changer in energy technology.”

Maui Energy Conference

Terawatt Sponsor HNU Energy launched HiVE energy storage at the 2017 Maui Energy Conference

Various panels investigated the strategies required to secure reliable, safe and affordable energy as an entire system. Resilience was also the thread that wove together various dimensions of the discussion when nuclear energy as a ‘clean’ energy source was discussed.

“Whatever your objective is, the argument that nuclear energy is more friendly to the environment is being made across the US,” explained Program Committee Chair Doug McLeod. “We wanted our audience to be familiar with the arguments being made at the national level, and then add a layer of Hawaii-specific information related to our constitutional provision.”

“Building nuclear plants is a tough task anywhere in the US,” said Gavin Bade, Associate Editor, Utility Dive and moderator of the panel on Emerging Trends in Nuclear Energy Policy.

“However, Hawaii’s constitutional limitations and public sentiment against the technology make the task an even tougher one in the Aloha State,” Bade said. “This year’s expert panelists agreed that if nuclear ever is to come to the state, it will likely be in the form of small modular reactors of less than 50 megawatts. While these technologies are currently in development, panelists concurred they are at least a decade from commercialization. As such, there is likely not a role for nuclear on the islands for at least the next ten years.”

A Shift in Energy

An invited presentation by featured speaker Michelle Wyman, Executive Director, National Council for Science and Environment (NCSE), set the tone for the discussion on day two of the conference.

“This year marks a shift in the political landscape that presents opportunities and challenges at all levels of government,” said Wyman. “The energy sector, already rife with change, can benefit significantly from the strength that science provides.”

Maui Energy Conference

Michelle Wyman, National Council for Science and Environment

Wyman discussed the alignments between energy, science and policy, and offered insights into pursuing those. “We are living in a world of turbulent change, chaotic and unpredictable,” she explained. “Still, we are resilient by design. We need to use our environmental and scientific knowledge to make our decisions in the gateway to resilience, which is the capacity to adapt to changing conditions and impacts such as intense storms, droughts, and wildfires. Resilient design is a response to our vulnerabilities. Communities need to adapt and survive. This is why we need a new business paradigm.”

Another draw for this year’s Conference was Carol Sim, Director of Environmental Affairs, Alaska Airlines. Sim has been instrumental in developing Alaska Air’s formal sustainability program and establishing emission reduction goals, including use of a new sustainable, alternative jet fuel made from forest residuals. Sim joined the panel discussion on Innovations in Transportation, which looked at what steps can be taken to create and facilitate a resilient transportation sector.

“Commercial aviation accounts for less than two percent of the carbon dioxide emissions in the US and only about two percent globally,” said Sim. “While that percentage may seem low, aviation emissions are highly visible and are projected to increase with industry growth. Our project managed Alaska Airline’s 75 biofuel flights in 2011 and 2016, and has adopted other aggressive goals for reducing greenhouse emissions.”

Cheryl Roberto of Twenty First Century Utilities, an investment utility firm in Washington DC, was part of a panel of experts asked what they thought the energy industry might look like in 25 years. “Utilities have been the backbone of energy transformation and will continue to be, but their role is evolving,” Roberto said. “They won’t be the sole provider anymore. Instead there will be a platform for integrating all the energy services out there as a market innovator.”

The Energy Conference concluded with a Sustainability Workshop hosted by MEDB, Maui Brewing Company, and the Maui High Performance Computing Center (MHPCC) in Kihei. Maui’s energy challenges have triggered creative solutions in business, military operations, and education.

The 2017 Maui Energy Conference provided several threads that may be explored in future conferences  as stakeholders from our local community, the nation, and the world will once again meet on the Island of Maui to help shape new solutions to the many energy challenges we face. 

Maui Energy Conference sponsors

Former Director of US DOE Joins 2017 Maui Energy Conference Line-Up

Former Director of US DOE Joins 2017 Maui Energy Conference Line-Up

Michelle Wyman, Executive Director, National Council for Science and Environment

The program is set with all speakers confirmed for the 2017 Maui Energy Conference, hosted by the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development and the Maui Economic Development Board (MEDB).

The Conference Program Committee is pleased to welcome Michelle Wyman to the 2017 Maui Energy Conference.  Michelle is the Executive Director at the National Council for Science and the Environment (NCSE), a non-profit organization based in Washington DC that seeks to strengthen the role and use of science in environmental policy and decision-making.

Michelle has worked on energy and environmental policy with states and local governments for over 15 years. In close consultation with regional and local governments and their constituencies, she developed strategic and tactical solutions to their energy planning, climate mitigation, and adaptation challenges.

She previously served as the Director of Intergovernmental Affairs at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). In that role, Michelle led the Department’s engagement activities with state, regional, and local governments on issues across the DOE complex, including renewable energy, science, fossil energy, and environmental clean-up.

Michelle’s extensive experience prior to joining the Department of Energy includes founding Applied Solutions- Local Governments Building a Clean Economy, and leading ICLEI USA, both of which are nonprofits engaging directly with cities, counties, and states on clean energy, environmental, and sustainability issues.

Michelle has served in a wide variety of leadership capacities including work with the World Bank, United Nations, and other multilateral institutions. As well as giving a presentation on Day 2, Michelle will be joining a panel to discuss Resilience.  The panel will explore how we define resilience and sustainability and the strategies that will get us to an energy system that is resilient.

The 2017 Maui Energy Conference has an exciting blend of Speakers, Panels, Case Studies and Exhibits covering a broad range of topics that make up the new energy landscape.  The core of the conference focuses on the idea of resilience with. Transportation, Mobility, the Water Energy Food Security Nexus and Emerging Trends in Hawaii Energy Policy promising to deliver interesting debates.

The 2017 Maui Energy Conference sponsors include signature sponsors, HiVE Energy Systems (Product Launch), Maui-based HNU Energy, Sunburst, and ecostruktures. Silver Spring Networks, Hitachi, Ulupono Initiative – a unique sustainability investment firm, and several other energy companies are also sponsoring the event.

The full list of sponsors is: Alaska Airlines, County of Maui, Hawaiian Electric Companies, Hawaii Energy/Leidos, Hawaii Gas, Hawaii Natural Energy Institute, Hawaii State Energy Office, Hitachi, HNU Energy, Holu Energy, HTDC, Kauai Island Utility Cooperative, Mercedes-Benz Energy, Pacific Biodiesel, PV Hardware, Sempra Renewables, Silver Spring Networks, Ulupono Initiative.

Click here for the full program.