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2017 Maui Energy Conference investigates energy systems through the prism of resilience

Resilience suggests toughness, elasticity, the ability to bounce back from catastrophic circumstances.  Since the last Energy Conference, Hawaii experienced a failed merger and several near misses from hurricanes, so in this year’s Maui Energy Conference we use resilience and sustainability as the backdrop to discuss the challenges faced by utilities and the other energy stakeholders.

The conference will investigate the strategies required to secure reliable, safe and affordable energy as an entire system. Resilience will be the thread that weaves together various dimensions of our discussion as we visit the place of nuclear energy as a “clean” energy source; the role of electrification in transportation; the importance of land use planning with its relation to energy production and consumption; the place of biofuels and biomass in our energy mix; technological innovations in energy storage and grid stability; the water, agriculture, and energy security nexus and much more.

The Keynote speaker at the Maui Energy Conference is Guillermo (Gil) Penalosa - Founder and Board Chair of 8 80 Cities, an internationally-recognized Canadian nonprofit organization. He is passionate about cities for all people, whether those aged 8 or 80. “Urban design dictates lifestyle, and lifestyle has a huge impact on people’s energy footprint,” observes Jonathan Koehn, Conference Program Committee member and Regional Sustainability Coordinator for the City of Boulder. “There are so many ways that physical infrastructure around us influences our energy choices.”

Michelle Wyman, Executive Director at the National Council for Science and the Environment (NCSE) is also a featured speaker at the conference. NCSE is a non-partisan Washington D.C. nonprofit dedicated to the improvement of the scientific basis of environmental decision making. Michelle was the former Director of Intergovernmental Affairs at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Michelle has worked on energy and environmental policy with states and local governments and their constituencies and developed strategic and technical solutions to their energy planning, climate mitigation, and adaptation challenges. Other featured speakers include Randall Iwase, Chairman of the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission and Carol Sim, Director of Environmental Affairs for Alaska Airlines.  

Utilities of all stripes, regulators, ISOs, consumer advocates, urban planners, transportation specialists, renewable energy providers, clean energy activists, state and local government officials and others will find value in Hawaii’s experience and the knowledge and experience of a variety of local, national and international experts.  The conference provides ample time for networking to dive deeper into challenges, insights, new technologies, and unique perspectives emerging from the sessions.

The State of Hawaii is recognized as a pioneer in the new energy economy and regulatory landscape. However, others can learn from the questions that still remain as the state ventures into uncharted territory:

  • Can the lessons learned from making electricity be applied more broadly through the equivalent of an RPS in other areas such as aviation and ground transportation fuel or gas?
  • The term “clean energy” is familiar with the public, but how should it be defined? We know fossil fuel does not qualify, but is that because of emission impacts on human health or carbon impacts?
  • Hawaii’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) has been widely reported as requiring 100% renewable energy, although the state law speaks specifically only of electricity production. How does this correlate to the public’s perception that the mission is broader, including transportation?
  • Is it now not possible to have a discussion about clean energy without exploring the agreements that have been reached in several states to subsidize existing nuclear plants as low-carbon? Spoiler Alert: Join moderator Gavin Bade from Utility Dive as we examine whether there will be a resurgence in nuclear energy in the U.S.

The 2017 Maui Energy Conference sponsors include signature sponsors, HiVE Energy Systems (Product Launch), Maui-based HNU Energy, Sunburst, and ecostruktures. Utility-related sponsors include Hawaiian Electric Industries (HEI), the parent company of three Hawaii utilities (HECO, MECO and HELCO), and Kauai Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC). Silver Spring Networks, Hitachi, Ulupono Initiative – a unique sustainability investment firm, and several other energy companies are also sponsoring the event.

The Maui Energy Conference is hosted by the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development and the Maui Economic Development Board (MEDB).   


Filed Under: Solar & Renewables Regulation & Policy Technology
Top image credit: Maui Economic Development Board