Taking control of Hawaiian Electric Co. is financially feasible, according to TJ Glauthier, a national leader in the renewable energy sector and board member of Kuokoa, a start-up company hoping to take the publicly traded utility private and implement a new vision of Hawaii’s clean energy future.

“I think that the financing is definitely achievable,” said Glauthier. “I’ve talked already with some investment banks in New York on a preliminary basis and I think that this is exactly the kind of thing investment banking people would really go out and raise money for.”

Glauthier was the second highest ranking official at the U.S. Department of Energy during President Bill Clinton’s administration. He served as the department’s deputy secretary and chief operating officer. Most recently, he served on President Barack Obama’s White House transition team, helping develop the energy provisions in the economic stimulus bill. He has consulted for numerous clean-tech companies and electric utilities.

Glauthier sat down with Civil Beat during last week’s Asia Pacific Clean Energy Summit and Expo. He provided a status update on where Kuokoa’s efforts currently stand and discussed key issues impacting the energy sector not only in Hawaii, but nationally – including tax credits, smart grid technology and the biofuels industry.

He said he was attracted to Kuokoa’s goal of trying to take Hawaii to 100 percent renewable energy. Bringing geothermal energy from the Big Island to power other islands via cable has been a major component of the company’s plans.

“I really like the vision,” said Glauthier. “I did some checking with my technical friends to make sure in fact we could do it and that it seems economical.”

What Attracted You to Kuokoa and What is the Status of the Company’s Plans?

Where Would Kuokoa’s Financing Come From?

Does Hawaii Really Have the Potential to be a National Leader in Renewable Energy?

Have We Arrived in Terms of Smart Grid Technology?

What’s the Next Big Thing in Energy Technology?

Biofuels: All Hype or a Promising Future?

Subsidizing the Clean Energy Sector

The oil industry receives billions of dollars in tax subsidies and the clean energy sector says that tax credits for renewable energy technologies are important to helping the industry compete. But can companies count on these tax credits in the long-term?

Is the U.S. Lagging in the Push to Renewable Energy?

Other countries are passing up the U.S. in renewable energy. In Germany, 20 percent of the country’s electricity comes from renewable sources. Why is the U.S. lagging?

A New Model for the Nation’s Electricity Infrastructure?

Distributed generation, such as rooftop solar panels and customer-sited wind turbines, have signaled a new type of energy model, in contrast to the traditional model of utilities owning the generation and distribution infrastructure, as in the case of Hawaii’s oil-based generators and transmission lines.

Glauthier discusses whether distributed generation is the wave of the future and paints a picture of where new technologies may be headed.

About the Author