Our Islands, Our Future

The 2020 Hawaii Energy Conference (HEC), postponed in March due to Covid-19, aired in July with a live-stream virtual event. Presented by the Maui Economic Development Board (MEDB) and supported by the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development, the conference welcomed over 600 participants from 24 different states and Puerto Rico. “An exciting feature this year was our international participation,” said Leslie Wilkins, MEDB President and CEO. “Six countries joined us, spanning time zones from Europe to Asia.”

One of the nation’s leading energy conferences, the HEC brought together experts on energy policy, strategies, leadership, and innovation to focus on how the energy sector should respond to the challenges imposed by the pandemic. The program included four panels plus brief video presentations with information related to the theme, ‘Imagining a Just Recovery: What would that look like for the grid?’

Jennifer Potter, Commissioner of the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission, and member of the conference program committee said, “The HEC has regrouped at a critical time for Hawaii and our country. The incredible macroeconomic stress and individual financial burdens across our nation mean that there is no better time to have dialogue on affordability and equity. Building a recovery plan that includes all socioeconomic groups is imperative.”

In his keynote, Scott Seu, President and CEO of Hawaiian Electric Company, explained, “It is not enough anymore to simply say we will all benefit from cleaner, cheaper renewables someday. The duration and the depth of our current economic downturn is unlike anything we have ever experienced, so someday is not soon enough. The leaders of Hawaiian Electric are looking at what bold strategies we can use to benefit the most people, the most quickly. Equity, opportunity, and participation are as important for our successful transition to renewable energy as any field source or technology.”

Seu added, “I have challenged myself and my team to think outside of our traditional role of keeping the lights on; to be bold, creative, and come up with ideas, such as a community solar program, that will strengthen our economy; to be the better Hawaii we can all imagine.”

The renewable energy transformation must include everyone. That is what equity looks like to me. Then, no one gets left behind.

Scott Seu, Hawaiian Electric Company, President and CEO