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Lineup announced for 2017 Maui Energy Conference

By Staff | Jan 5, 2017

De Rego

KIHEI – The fourth annual Maui Energy Conference will be held March 22-24 at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center.

This year, the event, hosted by the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development and Maui Economic Development Board (MEDB), will have the theme of: “All Things Energy: Pursuing Opportunities for Electricity and Beyond.”

From electricity and gas to transportation and water delivery systems, all sectors play a vital role in creating the new energy landscape, organizers noted.

Hawaii has made substantial progress moving away from fossil fuel sources of electricity. This year, the conference will celebrate what has been achieved in the electricity sector, but also consider how lessons learned in that sector can be applied to other types of energy.

“Energy experts and stakeholders from across the U.S. will examine groundbreaking strategies, and analyze how concepts like resilience apply beyond the traditional grid,” said Frank De Rego Jr., director of business development projects at MEDB and member of the conference Program Committee.

One of the new features this year will be a panel discussion on nuclear energy.

“Whatever your adjective is – ironic; surprising; misguided – the argument that nuclear energy is more friendly to the environment is being made across the U.S. We want our audience to be familiar with the arguments being made at the national level, then add a layer of Hawaii-specific information related to our constitutional provision,” said Program Committee Chair Doug McLeod.

The session titled “Emerging Trends in Energy Policy: Nuclear EnergyOld Peril or New Promise” seeks to answer these questions: What are the social, cultural, legal, and economic challenges of decarbonization using nuclear energy? Does nuclear energy have a role in Hawaii’s energy future?

Gavin Bade from Utility Dive will moderate the panel, which will include Henry Curtis, Ililani Media journalist, Life of the Land executive and director of Ka Lei Maile Ali`i Hawaiian Civic Club.

Another change for 2017 will be a discussion of the nexus between food and energy production, using islands as an example. If an island can go without energy resupply for six months but there is only food for two weeks, can that really be considered “sustainable.”

Come join attendees at a time when the last sugar plantation in Hawaii has just closed, and officials are working to identify replacements for the energy previously supplied to the grid by the sugar plantation.

The challenge of decarbonizing energy production while maintaining a reliable, safe, affordable, secure and resilient energy system is formidable. Michael Jung of Silver Spring Networks and Delavane Diaz of the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) will help define resilience and explain how it differs from sustainability.

Rick Rocheleau and Jay Griffin from the University of Hawaii’s Hawaii Natural Energy Institute will present an update on grid resiliency as Hawaii moves towards its ambitious 100 percent Renewable Portfolio Standards. Several international experts from companies such as Mercedes-Benz and Sumitomo will review case studies from Japan, Germany and the U.S.

Rajit Gadh, professor at Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science and founder/director of the UCLA Smart Grid Energy Research Center (SMERC), will be speaking on the panel discussing “Technology: The Role of the Smart Grid.”

The Program Committee includes energy experts from Maui, Oahu, Colorado and California. New members for 2017 are Dave Parsons, director of policy and research for the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission, and Lisa Briggs, manager at Sempra Energy in San Diego.

The exhibition segment of the conference provides networking opportunities to participants who want to generate business or collaborate to address common issues and concerns. For information on how to register and other details, visit www.mauienergyconference.com.