These are the 3 ingredients for energy change; how does Hawaii measure up?

Each year the Hawaii State Energy Office publishes a state-of-clean-energy report. Here are a few highlights you should know, plus recent news from the islands :

· We are nearly a quarter of the way to our 100% renewable energy goal — as of 2015 Hawaii reached 23.5% renewable energy statewide.

· Electricity prices remain double the national average at $0.26 per kWh — That being said, KIUC recently signed an agreement to pay $0.11/kWh for power delivered from a 28 MW solar array with 5 hours of battery storage. Less than 2 years ago, they signed a deal with Solar City with less energy storage at $0.145/kWh (more in Utility Dive). That’s significant because solar+storage is now 10–60% cheaper than burning fossil fuels for electricity on Kauai.

· As of January 2017, we hit the milestone of 5,000 electric vehicles (EV) were registered in the State of Hawaii, number 2 in the nation for EVs registered per 1000 people. Applications for Energy Excelerator’s 2018 cohort open on April 10th and this year we’re seeking solutions to how EVs can be a grid resource.

· Finally, in my role as the Chair of the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative Advisory Board, I wrote a letter to our Hawaii ecosystem. I looked at 3 necessary ingredients for transformative change and how we can accelerate this change:

  1. Work at an island and/or world scale,
  2. Impact a major societal function or more than one, and
  3. Work on leverage points that can transform a system (not just reform legacy systems or follow existing patterns).

· You can find my full letter below and on page 75 of the State Energy Office’s annual report.

One of my favorite photos from 2016: My co-founder’s son watching a live broadcast of the White House’s 1st Frontiers Conference. I was honored to be one of the speakers, along with Astro Teller (Captain of Moonshots at X), on how investing in science and technology frontiers will help improve lives and keep America on the cutting edge of innovation.

Dear Friends in Energy,

2016 has been and will continue to be a year of enormous change around the globe, which makes it a good time to reflect on how far we’ve come in Hawaii and where we need to double down for 2017 and beyond.

How far have we come? As a state, we have made incredible strides in renewable energy, energy efficiency, and transportation. You can learn about our progress in the state’s report.

Where do we double down? A leader in Hawaii’s business community recently told me that three ingredients are needed for transformative change:

1. Work at an island and/or world scale (not just at the neighborhood scale)

2. Impact a major societal function or more than one

3. Work on leverage points that can transform a system (not just reform legacy systems or follow existing patterns)

Looking at the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative as a part of the policy analytics team with Booz Allen and U.S. Department of Energy in 2008 and now, eight years later as Chair of the Advisory Board, I have seen that we absolutely check the boxes on number one and number two. We are working at the state scale with the goal and blueprint to be a model for the world. We are also impacting a major societal function, which at its core is energy, but quickly impacts transportation, water, land use, security and beyond.

That leads us to number three and the quest for leverage points in our system that can speed and impact our transformation. Today I’m offering a couple of ideas about what those could be; these are just to open the conversation and I welcome your feedback and input as we continue to find and act upon leverage points.

Leverage Point 1: Empathy as fuel for effective collaboration. In June, we partnered with the Hawaii State Energy Office to experiment with one way to do this by taking people out of their everyday roles and engaging them in play through a game called Newtonian Shift. A group of 25 utility executives, nonprofit directors, private industry representatives, and policy makers stepped into someone else’s shoes for eight hours. Representative Chris Lee played the CEO of a utility and Jeff Mikulina, of Blue Planet Foundation, played a CEO of a shale oil company. It was an unusual format for an advisory board meeting, but as Plato said, “you can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.” Will this kind of effort build long-term empathy that supports better collaboration? I think it’s a start, and we will continue to experiment and prototype new ideas with this goal in mind.

Leverage Point 2: Welcoming and developing people that can help with this transformation. As HCEI Board Member Pono Shim reminded us in the short film Aloha Connects, Hawaii has historically been a place that thrives on welcoming and integrating people from all places and backgrounds. I recently spoke with a bright woman graduating with a degree in engineering who wants to move to Hawaii to start her career. I asked her why Hawaii and she said because of our 100% renewable energy goal and that she wants to be on the front lines of innovation, which warmed my heart because this is a focus of our work at Energy Excelerator. What a statement about the power of a compelling vision — 100% renewable energy — to bring people together who share our commitment for a better future.

Here’s my ask of you — think of ways that you can impact these two leverage points in your role and articulate leverage points rooted in your own experience. It will take all of us to achieve energy transformation. So let’s dive in and go for gold!


Dawn Lippert

Chair, Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative Advisory Board & Director, Energy Excelerator