Our Islands, Our Future
A Conversation With Shelee Kimura

A Conversation With Shelee Kimura

At the 2022 Hawaii Energy Conference (HEC), Jacqui Hoover, Executive Director at Hawaii Island Economic Development Board and HEC Program co-chair, interviewed Shelee Kimura, the newly appointed President and Chief Executive Officer for Hawaiian Electric. Born and raised in Hawaii, Kimura currently leads Hawaiian Electric’s strategy to provide safe, affordable, reliable clean energy for customers on the islands of Oahu, Hawaii, Maui, Lanai and Molokai. With her leadership, Hawaiian Electric plans to cut carbon emissions from power generation 70-percent by 2030. Kimura’s vision is to generate electricity with zero or very little carbon emission by 2045, if not sooner.

 “Meeting our 2030 commitment will be a stretch, but it is achievable if public policies and community priorities are aligned to ensure that this energy transformation leaves no one behind,” Kimura explained. “Equity is an important issue at Hawaiian Electric. We have been focused on it for many years and we look at it in many ways. From a financial perspective, we want to make sure everyone can afford our transition to renewable energy. Also important is equity from a geographic perspective. We need to integrate many megawatts of renewable energy and we know that takes a lot of land. These conversations about where the projects will be sited, how they will be sited, the relationship with community—these are all really important topics that we have been trying to nurture over the last several years. We know that as we put more and more renewables on the electric power system there will be challenges. It is actually an issue that the entire energy eco-system cannot ignore.”

Kimura added that a lot of time is spent on the technical and engineering aspects of the grid models. However, she says the social models are an equally great challenge. “Equity and community is something that we are very focused on. Hawaiian Electric recognizes the needs and the differences of each community as we move forward to implement our renewable, decarbonization and resilience plans. While we are one company, our executives and leaders will continue to meet the specific needs of each island community.”

It is a true honor to lead Hawaiian Electric and serve our customers as we move toward a clean energy goal.

Shelee Kimura, President and Chief Executive Officer, Hawaiian Electric

Celebrating AG On Maui

Warren K. Watanabe, Executive Director of Maui County Farm Bureau (MCFB), was especially delighted at the 2022 Maui AgFest and 4-H Livestock Fair. Maui’s signature agricultural festival representing the island’s farming and ranching industries was held at War Memorial Special Events Field. Canceled for the last two years due to the pandemic, the event in 2022 brought together the entire local agricultural industry to share what each group does in the county for the collective good, and to showcase the vital role of Ag in the economy, environment, and lifestyle of Maui. 

“The importance of Maui AgFest is to educate the public about agriculture,” said Watanabe. “We have everyone here in one place, such as support agencies, farmers, ranchers, and the 4-H clubs representing the future of agriculture. I am thrilled to have the event back in person. People missed it. Most importantly, we were able to honor the legacy of the farmers and ranchers on Maui for both their contribution to Ag on our island and their influence during the time when agriculture was the number one industry Upcountry.”

To educate our future generation, MCFB has teamed with Maui Economic Development Board (MEDB) to establish a certification program, Educate the Educator, which introduces Maui school teachers to the many opportunities for viable careers in agriculture. Throughout the year, MEDB works closely with teachers to plan field trips, in-class farmer presentations, and agricultural internships. Additionally, MEDB organizes use of resource tools including GPS (Global Positioning Systems), microscopes and much more.

“In 2006, MCFB launched Ag in the Classroom for second graders,” Watanabe added. “This is a 10-month series of in-class farmer presentations and on-the-farm activities, titled: Where Would We Be Without Seeds. The program, now extended to middle school and high school students, provides the opportunity to learn about the significant role local agriculture plays in our islands. Ag in the Classroom may plant a seed in our keiki that a career in agriculture is a positive choice. The possibilities range from in-the-field management and engineering to environmental and food sciences, biochemistry, agricultural economy, technology, research and public policy.”

MCFB and our partners offer students educational opportunities to learn about agricultural issues and their impact on our day-to-day lives.

Warren Watanabe, MCFB, Executive Director
Conversations With Nature

Conversations With Nature

A Maui resident for nearly 30 years, Helen Kordyl is well-known for her underwater photography as well as her nature photos. With a BA in visual arts, she has an impressive list of competitive photography. Eight of her images received honorable mention in the International Photography Awards, both in 2004 and 2014. Additionally, Kordyl shot the striking photo cover for award-winning Maui musician Lei’ohu Ryder’s hit CD, Love Returns.

Born on a rubber plantation in a Malaysian forest, Kordyl developed a deep connection with nature which continues to this day. She calls her images ‘Conversations with Nature’ as she truly feels a bond with all creation. “I have traveled the world; however, my heart connection is to Maui,” Kordyl explained. “It is said that when one lives ones’ passion, life flows with great ease and joy. I have listened to and deeply followed my intuition. My first passion is being in the beautiful blue ocean and feeling a deep connection with the creatures of the sea; and second, using my creativity, expressed through my photography—a moment of communication captured in an instant.” 

Photography underwater is potentially the most difficult of photographic disciplines, as most techniques that work well on the surface usually fail underwater. Plus, monitoring one’s life support system, buoyancy and sea conditions complicate things even more. “When I am in the ocean I enter an altered state of consciousness and become totally immersed in another world,” Kordyl noted. “My images show my deep unseen relationship with the beautiful cetaceans I have photographed.”

Underwater photographers can create magnificent images, offering insight into their dedication and creative impulse. By learning numerous techniques, Kordyl discovered and developed the artist within. “There is much to consider for taking good photos in the ocean, including field-tested digital and film techniques and underwater photo equipment, such as lenses, strobes and camera systems,” she added. “Through the years I learned hidden techniques which are behind imaginative framing and lighting to achieve new striking results. From wide-angle and fish-eye, to macro photography, to above/below split images, the wonders of underwater photography are immeasurable.”

All of my photography is dedicated to a celebration of the world of nature, a profoundly touching and integral part of our lives.

Helen Kordyl, Maui Photographer
Our Planet, Our Future

Our Planet, Our Future

Zoe Mounts, Seabury Hall freshman, was recently honored at the 2022 Blue Planet Foundation Student Energy Summit on Oahu for her work on climate awareness. Mounts dedicated a six- month solo research project to Climate Change Awareness culminating in the production of four informative videos, each 7-10 minutes in length: Climate Change is Real; Food Wasting in our World; Plastic Pollution and Solutions; and The Truth about Consumption. She created a Vimeo showcase of these short films and presented them to her school and church community during an Earth Hour event that she helped to coordinate.

“In 2019, I chose to implement many zero-waste practices in my own life,” said Mounts. “I am currently in the process of organizing a new Sustainability Club at Seabury Hall, and I have been in communication with the cafeteria staff to implement more sustainable practices in the campus dining program. The school club would help  raise awareness of environmentally sustainable practices and motivate students to find clean energy solutions. During the Blue Planet Summit, I had the opportunity to network and collaborate with like-minded peers, applying ideas to real-world challenges, which I now want to share.”  

Recognizing that the youth are our future, the Blue Planet Student Energy Summit emphasizes educating the students of Hawaii to empower them to speak up and act. Launched in 2015, the Summit motivates students island-wide to discover sustainable solutions for their own communities. Another focus is making the voices of Hawaii’s youth heard through building a collective roadmap to share with state and local leaders around the 2022 legislative session.

Mounts added, “The Summit offered a forum to cultivate ideas for solving the biggest challenges of our generation. Energy professionals equipped us with tools, connections, and information to continue to make positive changes for our islands. I was inspired to think creatively about renewable energy, clean-transportation alternatives and energy efficiency. Also, I was challenged to think critically about economics and policy, and how to take part in systemic change in Hawaii’s energy laws. Hawaii has an exciting 100-percent renewable energy future.”

I hope to share what I learned at the 2022 Blue Planet Student Energy Summit with my school and the community. We are tomorrow’s clean-energy leaders.

Zoe Mounts, Freshman, Seabury Hall
Electrification and Energy Efficiency

Electrification and Energy Efficiency

Caroline Carl, newly appointed Executive Director of Hawaii Energy, gave a Spotlight Talk at the 2022 Hawaii Energy Conference (HEC). The event brought together experts on energy policy, strategies, leadership and innovation to help Hawaii reach its goal of 100-percent renewable energy sources by 2045.

Carl, who joined Hawaii Energy in 2011, explained, “The role of energy efficiency is important in the movement to electrify almost everything. Hawaii Energy, the rate-payer-funded energy efficiency program serving the islands of Maui, Oahu, Hawaii, Molokai, and Lanai, operates directly under contract with the public utilities commission. Our mission is to help local families and businesses make smart energy choices.”

This model began when Hawaii’s first clean-energy initiative was formalized in 2008 when the state committed to achieving 70 percent clean energy by 2030. Forty percent was to be from renewable generation and 30 percent from energy efficiency and conservation. This led to the establishment of the state’s energy efficiency portfolio standards, which set a reduction goal of 4300 gigawatt hours by 2030. The Hawaii Energy programs were created to help realize these goals.

“Today the Hawaii Energy programs have saved the people of Hawaii more than a billion dollars off their energy bills by helping them make smart energy choices,” Carl pointed out.  “Nevertheless, the  programs of the past decade are not what the programs of the next ten years will look like. We are facing a time of significant change across the entire energy landscape. Our programs will need to respond to the impact associated with the number of external drivers. As we face power plant retirements on Oahu and Maui, increasing concerns around capacity reserve shortfall and the Covid pandemic economic impacts remain significant even though looking ahead the outlook appears positive as the global economy continues to recover. Despite all these competing forces, at Hawaii Energy we believe the efficiency programs are key to helping customers and transforming the market for clean energy. I am happy to be able to reiterate the important role Hawaii Energy gets to play in our clean energy future.”

Our efficiency programs are an excellent resource that can be leveraged to reduce fossil fuel use, cost and emissions, simultaneously with electrification.

Caroline Carl, Executive Director Hawaii Energy
2022 Hawaii Energy Conference: The Push to Electrification

2022 Hawaii Energy Conference: The Push to Electrification

The 9th Annual Hawaii Energy Conference (HEC), presented by Maui Economic Development Board (MEDB) and supported by the County of Maui Office of Economic Development, explored the theme “Electrification: Where are we now? What does the future hold?” The two-day virtual conference revisited all the aspects of electrifying the grid and transportation—current successes, potential pitfalls, and future opportunities.

Mayor Victorino stated, “MEDB is helping to lead the way to the future. Hawaii is a leading state for solar energy in the nation with a goal of 100-percent renewable energy by 2045. Our famous trade winds can help generate electricity and we have the potential to capture wave energy and geothermal for our energy needs. We have sustainable energy, and an abundance of sunshine and resources to help us. We look to the engineers, scientists, and other experts at this conference to help the people of Hawaii make a transition to renewable energy sooner than later.”

Leslie Wilkins, MEDB President and CEO said, “Electrification will completely impact how we approach the issues of energy, production, distribution, energy equity, resilience, and more. Our program focused on the challenges and opportunities before us all in building a resilient, sustainable, affordable, secure, and equitable energy future.”

“There is no doubt that the push to electrification will affect our way of life,” explained Frank De Rego, Jr., Director of Business Development Projects, MEDB, and Co-Chair of the Conference Program Committee. “Electrification demands attention, among other things, to upgrading the grid, working out a reasonable and responsive regulatory framework, and responding to community needs and concerns, including equity.”

Abigail Anthony of the Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission said during her keynote at the conference, “Rhode Island, the smallest state in the country, roughly the size of Oahu, asserts that right rates and benefits are needed in order to encourage residents to convert to electrification. Electrification is no longer just for early adopters; it is ready to go to scale. We are focused on advancing equity, by making sure our customers are paying only for things that they can benefit from as well as afford.”

The 2022 HEC brought together experts on energy policy, strategies, leadership and innovation to help Hawaii reach its goal of 100-percent renewable energy sources.

Frank De Rego, Jr., MEDB Director of Business Development Projects, Co-Chair, 2022 HEC Program Committee
9th Hawaii Energy Conference – May 10 & 12

9th Hawaii Energy Conference – May 10 & 12

The 9th Annual Hawaii Energy Conference revisits the challenges of electrifying the grid and transportation – current successes, potential pitfalls, and future opportunities.  There is no doubt that the push to Electrification will affect our way of life.  

A study by Princeton University predicts that by 2050 electrifying transport and buildings could double the amount of electricity consumption in the U.S. Amy Myers Jaffe, a research professor at Tuft’s University, boldly declares in the Wall Street Journal, “The electrification of (almost) everything is coming, and we’re just not ready for it.”  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. 

Join us at the Hawaii Energy Conference for a two-day discussion that 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 energy efficiency in electrification? …and more

The 2022 Hawaii Energy Conference is on May 10 and 12. Learn more and register at Use code FMNHEC to save.

Protecting Hawaii’s Wildlife

Protecting Hawaii’s Wildlife

Since 1996, Hawaii Wildlife Fund (HWF) has actively protected native wildlife. The nonprofit is dedicated to the conservation of Hawaii’s marine wildlife including monk seals, turtles, and dolphins, as well as cleaning the marine debris off our beaches. “Our mission is to engage communities and volunteers in educational outreach, marine debris removal, conservation, research and advocacy,” said Hannah Bernard, HWF Executive Director. “We believe that restoring the health of our natural world is essential.” 

Currently, the main focus of HWF is on coastal and marine wildlife species such as the hawksbill sea turtle (honu’ea) and the Hawaiian green sea turtle (honu). “We are passionate about protecting our beloved honu and honu’ea,” Bernard explained. “All monitoring and excavation activities are carried out by trained HWF biologists and volunteers operating under endangered species permits with state and federal agency partners. We encourage those who want to help with our work to let us train them to do it properly. Going strong for over 20 years, we have protected more than 10,300 hatchlings and the reward never gets old!”

Throughout the years, HWF staff and volunteers have hauled over 360 tons of debris off beaches and surrounding coastline, including fishing nets so heavy that they needed a winch placed on a truck to lug the material from the shore. Bernard noted, “The plastic in the ocean is a global threat to the health of our oceans. Our main concern is that beaches be safe for both our community and wildlife. We can do something about plastics by reducing our consumption of plastic products, recycling and disposing them in landfills.”

During the Covid pandemic, HWFs environmental education mentors worked hard to convert all their hands-on youth programs to virtual platforms. Funded by a NOAA grant, they introduced topics such as Hawaiian coastal ecosystems, biology, and marine debris impact and solutions. Bernard said, “Teaching our next generation to protect our environment is vital. Students often find new ways to make a difference. Our education programs are available free to all community members. We need unified island communities that really want to help protect Hawaii’s wildlife.”

By volunteering, interning, and donating, the community can help keep Hawaii’s wildlife free and healthy for generations to come.

Hannah Bernard, HWF Executive Director
A Single Source of Energy

A Single Source of Energy

Clifford Nae’ole, Hawaiian cultural advisor for The Ritz-Carlton in Kapalua, provided the cultural opening at the 8th annual Hawaii Energy Conference (HEC). This year, the HEC explored the theme 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 two-day conference featured keynotes, panel discussions, interviews, networking, and exhibits.

Leslie Wilkins, MEDB President and CEO, noted, “We began the conference by reflecting on the HEC’s special focus of our responsibilities to the land and its people. “It was elegantly acknowledged and explained by Nae’ole in his pule, spoken and chanted.”

Nae’ole, using visual metaphors, said, “We gather together as one, collectively, for one cause for the betterment of mankind, to find energy sources, and to work toward one goal, sustainable energy. Make sure our energy sources are in order so that our children and grandchildren can live with balance in the world. Consider that we represent a universal canoe and each of us has our own canoe. Make sure to design your canoe towards one sustainable energy goal. Listen to each other. The crew that works together with understanding works through challenges and will get over the highest waves. Look to the future, respect each other, listen, understand, share, decide. The future is ours. We are connected by a single source of energy.”

Nae’ole was recently recognized with a Historic Preservation Award from the Historic Hawaii Foundation. The awards recognize and celebrate excellence in historic preservation throughout the Hawaiian Islands, and Nae’ole’s individual award honored his exemplary achievements in advocacy, education, programming, and preservation efforts. 

Born and raised on Maui, Nae’ole is dedicated to creating bridges between the Hawaiian culture and the contemporary business world. As a pioneer in the development of educational programs, he has educated thousands and is highly respected for his knowledge of Hawaiian culture, language, and history. Nae’ole reflected, “I believe that everyone—past, present and future—needs to learn about our sacred island, and honor it now and forever.”

In accord with Nae’ole’s pule, the 2021 HEC explored energy transition in Hawaii focused on the skills of the people to develop our clean, secure, resilient, and sustainable energy future.

Leslie Wilkins President and CEO, MEDB