UPDATED 11/16/11 12:45 p.m.

Editor’s Note: Civil Beat interviewed Mark Glick on Wednesday at noon. You can watch a video recording of the interview below.

Mark Glick is the new head of the state energy office. He joined us in the Civil Beat newsroom.

From the controversies swirling around Big Wind to the new push for geothermal development, we’ll cover key topics facing Hawaii’s push toward renewable energy sources.

Is the state really faced with an energy crisis that could cause major damage to our economy in the coming years? Will Hawaii’s islands soon be connected by undersea cables capable of transmitting electricity?

We’ll find out more about who Glick is and what his plans are for the state energy office.

And fresh off APEC, where energy security was one of the conference’s major themes, we’ll find out if there were any takeaways for Hawaii.

Glick takes over from Estrella Seese who held the interim position after Ted Peck left to join Kuokoa, a start-up company that’s trying to take over Hawaiian Electric Co.

Here are some initial questions we asked Glick:

1) What are your top priorities as the new energy administrator?

The top three are: 1) Rapidly expanding and improving our technical assistance and self-help tools for renewable energy developers; 2) Moving the inter-island cable network forward; 3) Realigning our team and structure to better assist deploying clean energy infrastructure.

2) Energy is a major theme of the APEC conference. Did anything come out of the conference that is related to Hawaii’s renewable energy efforts?

Although it is old news to most of us in Hawaii, APEC countries like China are impressed with the reach and audacity of our portfolio goals and the public private partnership that codified the goals into law. We learned from DOE Deputy Assistant Secretary Phyllis Yoshida, who serves on APEC’s Industrial Science and Technology Working Group, that Hawaii’s Partnership on Clean and Efficient Energy Development and Deployment with Okinawa was an inspiration for energy to become a major theme of this APEC conference. DBEDT Director Richard Lim addressed the Asia-Pacific Business Symposium and we both were part of a roundtable discussion on furthering our clean energy goals in Hawaii with Governor Abercrombie and U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu.

Perhaps the most major outcome of APEC regarding our clean energy agenda came as a direct result of Sunday’s China Hawaii CEO Forum “Transforming to Clean Energy.” Governor Abercrombie and the Vice Chairman of the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, Yu Ping, were inspired enough by the event to immediately prepare and execute a Letter of Intent to collaborate on clean energy development. Amazingly, an agreement was signed the same evening and calls for a memorandum of understanding to be executed by the parties on or before March 30, 2012 to clearly define specific clean energy research, development and demonstration efforts to be jointly pursued in conjunction with public/private partners who share our mutual clean energy aspirations.

3) What are the biggest challenges you see facing Hawaii in switching to renewable energy?

Our remoteness and market/population size limit our options. We don’t have the ability to stabilize the grid for higher concentrations of RE through interstate transmission of electricity as is the case on the mainland. And the lack of other conventional fuels means that we’re stuck with expensive diesel and fuel for power generation for whatever we don’t produce from renewable means.

4) Do you think local biofuels will play a major role in Hawaii’s energy future?

Biofuels, to be sure, will play a major role in our energy future. There are an abundance of options and we’re making progress in demonstrating the economic viability of these options in Hawaii in aviation, ground transportation and power generation. We simply must remain focused on pressing forward with the understanding that Hawaii’s policies encourage biofuel production as a means to promote greater energy self-sufficiency.

5) What was the path that led you to working in Hawaii’s energy sector?

Energy has always been an overriding interest of mine dating back to my work with the Texas Land Commissioner. I’ve spend the better part of my career developing clean energy policies and programs, but I can think of no other place in the nation that has the same degree of vulnerability to imported oil as does Hawaii. With my career experiences in hand and witnessing the deep desire of key stakeholders in Hawaii to transform Hawaii’s energy profile, I wanted to be part of the solution.

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