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.

Hawaii Energy Conference Celebrating 10 years Announces Keynote and Program Topics

Hawaii Energy Conference Celebrating 10 years Announces Keynote and Program Topics

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.

Daphne Frias, Youth Activist, will keynote the 10th annual Hawaii Energy Conference

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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?
  3. 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 Registration is now open with early bird rates available until March 31.

Hawaii Energy Conference returns virtually to explore Electrification 

Hawaii Energy Conference returns virtually to explore Electrification 

Amy Myers Jaffe, a research professor at Tuft’s University, boldly declared in the Wall Street Journal, “The electrification of (almost) everything is coming, and we’re just not ready for it.” The 9th Annual Hawaii Energy Conference will explore the theme “Electrification: Where are we now? What does the future hold?” as it revisits the challenges of electrifying the grid and transportation – current successes, potential pitfalls, and future opportunities. 

Presented by Maui Economic Development Board (MEDB) and supported by the County of Maui Office of Economic Development, the conference will again be virtual and will feature keynotes, panel discussions, interviews and exhibits over two days – May 10 and 12. 

The concept of electrification usually refers to a loosely defined slogan – the “electrification of everything,” explained Frank De Rego, Jr., Director of Business Development Projects, MEDB, and Co-Chair of the Program Committee. “In essence, electrification means all the energy we rely on to power our homes, offices, industries, and transportation will eventually come from electricity. For a growing number of states in the U.S. that energy must be produced by 100% clean, renewable sources by a date certain – for Hawaii it’s the year 2045.” 

Electrification has created the potential for new technologies associated with the production and use of hydrogen as an alternative fuel source and has necessitated innovations in battery storage for utilities and transportation. Electrification also demands attention, among other things, to upgrading the grid, working out a reasonable and responsive regulatory framework, and responding to community needs and concerns.  

“There is no doubt that the push to Electrification will affect our way of life,” stated De Rego. “A study by Princeton University predicts that by 2050 electrifying transport and buildings could double the amount of electricity consumption in the U.S.” 

He continued, “Our communities will need to develop disciplined, proportional responses to the challenges Electrification poses. Strategies for energy efficiency and the equitable distribution of electrification’s benefits must balance building capacity for increased consumption.” 

  The two-day discussion will review the issues surrounding electrification with the following thoughts in mind: How do we define “electrification” and is it the same everywhere? How are the community’s needs and concerns being addressed as the infrastructure for electrification become more prevalent? How is resilience being brought into the equation of electrification? What has been and will be the impact of COVID-19 on customers of the utility? What should the climate goals of electrification be – net zero carbon, net negative carbon, or zero emissions?  What is the role of hydrogen in electrification?  …and more 

With in-person gatherings still impacted by 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.  

The conference will also include a virtual exhibit hall for companies to showcase their products and services and connect with attendees.  The virtual venue will be open up to a week in advance, encouraging attendees to network to connect and build important relationships prior to, during and after the conference.  

Learn more about registration for the 2022 Hawaii Energy Conference.

Frank De Rego, Jr, (pictured right) Director of Business Development Projects, MEDB and Co-Chair of Conference Program Committee hosts the 2021 Hawaii Energy Conference with former Chair, Doug McLeod

Equity and Electrification to be explored at the 2020 Hawai’i Energy Conference

Equity and Electrification to be explored at the 2020 Hawai’i Energy Conference

Energy industry leaders participated in a panel at the 2019 Hawaii Energy Conference L to R: Abigail Anthony, Rhode Island PUC: Michael Picker, President of the California PUC; Governor David Ige; Jennifer Potter, Hawaii PUC; with moderator Matthew McDonnell, Navigant Energy Practice.

The 7th annual Hawai’i Energy Conference will explore the timely issues of beneficial electrification and the design of an equitable energy transition. The dates are March 18 and 19, 2020. Presented by the Maui Economic Development Board (MEDB) and supported by the County of Maui Office of Economic Development, the Hawai’i Energy Conference is the leading energy conference in the islands and brings together regional and national experts on energy policy, strategies, leadership and innovation.

Participants will take a deep dive into how electrification can be “beneficial”. As more functions are served by electricity, demand for electricity will rise. This opens pathways for more deployment of renewable generation, which supports the sort of ambitious decarbonization goals that state legislatures throughout the nation are enacting.

“Keynote and panel presenters will attempt to answer a number of questions regarding the benefits, challenges, and practical limits of electrification”, said Doug McLeod, Conference Chair.  “How can this concept have meaning so that ‘beneficial’ does not become another throwaway word like ‘clean’ or ‘green’?  How does beneficial electrification differ from low cost energy and ideas of what is just?”

Given the wildfire issues affecting the West, will there be the same access to electricity for those who cannot afford microgrids or DERs? Can an electrified system be more resilient and efficient? What are the alternatives to electrification?

When exploring equity, the conference will consider how we can break through economic, cultural and linguistic barriers to ensure that we have an energy system that works for everyone.  Where should we invest and put equity into equity? What does an equitable energy transition look like? Is it possible to create a transition that respects local cultures, is socially just, and protects our most vulnerable?

The 2019 Hawaii Energy Conference featured an MOU signing with PUC’s of Hawaii and California. L to R: James Griffin, Chairman Hawaii PUC; Michael Picker, President California PUC

“These topics are not unique to Hawai’i,” says Frank De Rego, Jr., Director of Business Development Projects at MEDB and Program Committee Vice-Chair. “Whether someone lives on an island or not, they will benefit from participating in the conversation to explore pathways to creating an equitable, resilient energy system of the future.”

The HEC consistently attracts energy industry leaders from Hawai’i, the Mainland, Japan and Europe to exchange ideas on how to better serve customers in the Islands’ rapidly changing energy environment. Participants can take advantage of the ample networking time and have access to the leading experts in the state.

Registration for the March event, held at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center in Kahului, will be launched in December.

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.