MEDB Leads 2016 Energy Conference Focus on Maui’s Renewable Energy Future

Apr 28, 2016

The 2016 Maui Energy Conference, presented by the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development and the Maui Economic Development Board (MEDB), focused on the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative’s 100% Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), its implications for Hawaii’s energy future and the customer. The two-day conference, held at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center on March 16-17, was attended by over 300 participants, including nationally and internationally recognized experts in the field. “The event provided a platform where difficult and often contentious discussions can occur in an atmosphere of mutual respect and in-depth dialogue,” stated Frank De Rego Jr., Director of Business Development Projects at MEDB. “The issues around Hawaii’s 100% renewable energy portfolio standard are not only technologically complex, but have social, economic and cultural impacts as well.” In June 2015, Hawaii updated legislation setting a 100% RPS by 2045.
As Conference Program Committee Chair Doug McLeod noted, “The conference and its rebroadcast to the larger community via Akaku has raised the education level in our community so that MECO’s customers are presently asking for services like home batteries.” Battery systems store the energy when nature makes it available and allows us to use that energy when we need it. “Storing solar energy is a key to enabling Hawaii to meet their 100% renewable energy goals,” said Boris von Bormann, CEO of sonnenUSA. Bormann went on to say that he envisioned a world where clean and affordable energy is available to all by networking systems of rooftop solar coupled with battery storage – an option that is already occurring in Germany.
“The customer is an integral part of a 100% renewable energy future,” said Shelee Kimura, Hawaiian Electric’s VP of Corporate Planning and Business Development, as the conference discussion turned to the potential impacts for the community of achieving a 100% RPS. For example, can everyone afford the cost of renewable energy? How do we balance the benefits of renewable energy for those households and businesses who cannot afford rooftop solar systems?  The conference attracted a broad audience: 21% of participants traveled from the mainland or internationally to attend, with 37% from Maui and 42% from Oahu and other neighbor islands. As De Rego noted, “The Conference brought together some of the best minds in the energy sector from Maui County, the state, and the nation.”
You can watch the Akaku videos of the Conference sessions by visiting and following the links on the homepage.