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GreenBiz reveals advisory board for Hawaii clean energy conference

News release: Twenty-four thought leaders and key stakeholders to help guide VERGE Hawaii 2018 program.

GreenBiz Group has announced the advisory board for VERGE Hawaii 2018: Asia Pacific Clean Energy Summit, returning to Honolulu, Hawaii, June 12-14, 2018.

VERGE Hawaii convenes more than 800 leaders — from the government, military, utilities, corporate leaders, energy producers, entrepreneurs and other solution providers — to have candid, action-oriented conversations that address the greatest challenges and opportunities in transitioning to 100 percent renewable energy, in Hawaii and worldwide.

"VERGE uniquely brings together the key stakeholders who are building Hawaii’s clean economy," said Eric Faurot, CEO, GreenBiz Group. "We are thrilled to work with this group of clean-energy leaders and the State of Hawaii to help deliver on the Aloha State’s bold energy goals."

The three-day conference program explores the emerging clean-energy policies, models, technologies and infrastructure that will enable the state to achieve its ambitious legislated mandate of 100 percent renewable powered energy in the electricity sector by 2045 — as well as how those advancements can be scaled around the world.

The 24-member VERGE Hawaii Advisory Board includes a diverse group of influential, engaged leaders across a range of industries and sectors who will provide strategic direction on program content and the overarching conference framework.

"I’m excited to join such a distinguished group of advisors whose expertise and guidance will ensure that VERGE Hawaii 2018 remains a premier clean energy and sustainability event," said Luis Salaveria, director of the State Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism. "VERGE Hawaii helps the state leverage its role as an energy innovation leader and attracts a wide range of stakeholders, including investors, who see Hawaii as an ideal location for clean energy research and development and deployment."

VERGE Hawaii 2018 advisors:

  • Jimmie Collins, Senior Department of Energy Advisor, U.S. Pacific Command, Joint Interagency Coordination Group - J91
  • Celeste Connors, Executive Director, Hawai’i Green Growth
  • Kyle Datta, General Partner, Ulupono Initiative
  • Jose Dizon, General Manager, Parker Ranch/ Paniolo Power
  • Christopher Floro, Business Line Director, Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Pacific
  • Jay Griffin, Commissioner, Hawaii Public Utilities Commission
  • AJ Halagao, Director, Corporate & Community Advancement, Hawaiian Electric Industries (HEI)
  • Brandon Hayashi, Regional Manager, Opterra Energy Services
  • Brian Kealoha, Executive Director, Hawaii Energy
  • Shelee Kimura, Senior Vice President of Business Development & Strategic Planning, Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO)
  • Sherry Menor-McNamara, President and CEO, Chamber of Commerce Hawaii
  • Jeff Mikulina, Executive Director, Blue Planet Foundation
  • Issac Moriwake, Attorney, Earthjustice
  • Mark Nakashima, Vice Speaker, Hawaii House of Representatives
  • Dean Nishina, Executive Director, Division of Consumer Advocacy, Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs
  • Mika Ohbayashi, Director, Renewable Energy Institute (Asia Pacific)
  • Rick Rocheleau, Director, Hawaii Natural Energy Institute (HNEI)
  • Luis Salaveria, Director, Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT), State of Hawaii
  • Neil Sheehan, CEO, Sheehan Group-Pacific, LLC
  • Jill Sims, COO and Head of Innovation Deployment, Elemental Excelerator
  • Laurence Sombardier, Chief Business Development Officer, Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority (Big Island)
  • Josh Stanbro, Chief Resilience Officer, City & County of Honolulu
  • Deidre Tegarden, Executive Director, Nisei Veteran's Memorial Center (Maui)
  • Beth Tokioka, Communications Manager, Kauaʻi Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC)

"The difference between success and failure of energy transitions in Hawaii and elsewhere in the world may well rest on whether we have honestly and objectively investigated and analyzed the most optimal solutions," said Dr. Richard Rocheleau, director of the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute. "The Institute believes that VERGE Hawaii is the right venue to carry out such a dialogue and we are pleased to join the Hawaii State Energy Office in support of Hawaii’s premier energy summit as a Premier Partner and Advisory Board member in 2018."

"As we sprint toward clean energy we will rely on technology, people and policy to make this transition in an equitable way. VERGE Hawaii brings together all of these elements," said Jill Sims, Chief Operations Officer and Head of Innovation Deployment for Elemental Excelerator. "We are honored to be a member of its Advisory Board helping to shape our energy conservation in 2018 and beyond."

To learn more about VERGE Hawaii 2018, click here.

For information on VERGE Hawaii sponsorship opportunities, contact [email protected].


GreenBiz Group’s mission is to define and accelerate the business of sustainability. It does this through a wide range of products and services, including its acclaimed website and e-newsletters, GreenBuzz and VERGE; webcasts on topics of importance to sustainability and energy executives; research reports, including the annual State of Green Business; the GreenBiz Executive Network, a membership-based, peer-to-peer learning forum for sustainability executives; and conferences: the annual GreenBiz forum and VERGE.


The Hawaii State Energy Office (HSEO) is a division of the state’s Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism.  With the state’s goal to reach 100 percent renewable energy generation by 2045, HSEO is leading the state’s charge toward clean energy independence. HSEO is committed to developing and deploying high impact solutions that will maximize Hawaii’s renewable energy resources and improve efficiency and transportation standards. Through effective policies and innovative programs, HSEO has positioned Hawaii as a leader in clean energy innovation, which will generate quality jobs, attract investment opportunities and accelerate economic growth. For more information, visit


The Hawaii Natural Energy Institute (HNEI), founded in 1974, was established in statute in 2007 to address critical State energy needs.  As an Institute within the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), University of Hawai'i at Manoa (UHM), HNEI is Hawaii’s leading source of energy  research in areas of importance to Hawaii, the United States and partners and clients throughout the world.  HNEI leverages its in-house work with public-private partnerships to demonstrate real-world operations and enable integration of emerging technologies into the energy mix and to develop, test and evaluate novel renewable energy technologies.  With specialization in Hawaii and the Asia Pacific region, HNEI brings direct benefit to Hawaii and supports the state efforts to diversify its economic drivers and energy mix and ultimately achieve 100% renewable electricity generation.


Elemental Excelerator helps startups change the world, one community at a time. Each year, we find 12-15 companies that best fit our mission and fund each company up to $1 million to improve systems that impact people’s lives: energy, transportation, water, agriculture, and beyond. To date, we have awarded over $20 million to more than 60 companies. What makes us unique? We co-fund, co-design, and co-develop projects and strategies that improve infrastructure and sustainably enhance communities. Our program is funded by a diverse coalition of utility partners, corporate partners, the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Department of Energy, state government, and philanthropic organizations. We are a non-profit created in collaboration with Emerson Collective. For more information, please visit

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