Civil Beat was eager Friday morning to report what Gov. David Ige and newly appointed Cabinet members had to say about the direction of Hawaii’s energy policy.

Women in Renewable Energy, a local nonprofit, was hosting a forum at The Plaza Club with Ige, Luis Salaveria, the new director of the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism and Ford Fuchigami, the new director of the Department of Transportation.

Officials were there to “share their plans for Hawaii’s clean energy future.” Moderating the event was Asia Yeary of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.


Screenshot, The Plaza Club

Screenshot, The Plaza Club

It’s a particularly interesting time for the state with the pending sale of Hawaiian Electric Co. to Florida-based NextEra Energy, squabbles over the future of rooftop solar and a slew of utility-scale renewable energy projects poised to dot the Oahu landscape. And the forum seemed like a good opportunity to learn more about the views of some of our top government officials.

However, it was not to be. Yvette Maskrey, a WiRE board member and president of Honeywell International, was in the midst of announcing Ige to a room of attendees feasting on breakfast, when she apparently spotted a Civil Beat reporter in the doorway and decided to take the time to review the forum’s press policy, or no press policy, rather.

In the interest of cultivating an “open” discussion, she said press are banned from events hosted by Women in Renewable Energy. Nothing that’s uttered in The Plaza Club, located atop Pioneer Plaza and boasting mauka to makai views, was to leave the room, she said.

Indeed, The Plaza Club is a private club and Women in Renewable Energy have the right to keep their forums closed to the media. Still, it seems like a peculiar stance to try to muzzle news of what government officials have to say about public policy matters, particularly for a nonprofit that seeks to promote education around clean energy issues.

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