Archive for the ‘Blue Planet Foundation’ Category

IUCN Spotlight: Jeff Mikulina

September 3rd, 2016

Solar panels at Kapiolani Medical Center. Courtesy

Solar panels at Kapiolani Medical Center, Honolulu. Credit:

Island nations, most vulnerable to climate change, are also innovators in adopting renewable energy.

The Blue Planet Foundation and IUCN Caribbean host a workshop, Windows to the Future: Islands as Innovators for a Renewable Energy Transition, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 4 at the Hawai‘i Convention Center (Room 319A) as part of the IUCN World Conservation Congress 2016.

Jeff Mikulina, executive director of the Blue Planet Foundation, joins Franklin Hoevertsz, managing director, Utilities Aruba, Dutch West Indies, Utu Abe Malae, executive director, American Samoa Power Authority, Spencer Thomas, energy economist, government of Grenada, Ngedikes Olai Uludong, Ambassador to EU for Climate Change from the Republic of Palau,  and others for a discussion on strategies leading to 100-percent energy. Race car driver, Nobuhiro "Monster" Tajima, electric vehicle advocate, will also be on the panel.

Following the workshop, at 1:15 p.m., leaders from Tonga, American Samoa and other island nations join Blue Planet Foundation founder Henk Rogers for an announcement regarding their shared vision for a 100-percent renewable energy future at the center's main lobby fronting Atkinson Avenue. (Rogers also speaks on an Oceana panel from 5-6 p.m.).

Island nations around the world have made substantive plans and commitments toward 100-percent renewable energy, many by 2030, in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Jeff Mikulina, executive director of the Blue Planet Foundation, by a power plant in downtown Honolulu. Star-Advertiser ARchives/ Cindy Ellen Russell.

Jeff Mikulina, executive director of the Blue Planet Foundation, by a power plant in downtown Honolulu. Star-Advertiser Archives/ Cindy Ellen Russell.

The Green Leaf sat down for a Q&A with Jeff Mikulina.

GL: Why is it significant for the IUCN WCC to be held here in Hawaii? How can Hawaii contribute to the conversation this year?

JM: It is a remarkable privilege for Hawaii to be hosting the 2016 World Conservation Congress...It is also very timely and appropriate. The title of this year's Congress, "Planet at the Crossroads," reflects the urgent need for climate and conservation leadership. Here, Hawaii has the clear opportunity to demonstrate solutions.

Hawaii island has long been at the forefront on climate science, hosting the longest-running carbon dioxide sampling experiment on Earth. Hawaii is also a global leader in aggressive clean energy policy, enacting a law in 2015 that requires 100-percent renewable energy. Blue Planet Foundation believes that islands are serving a key role in accelerating clean energy innovation, policy and progress. The World Conservation Congress gathering in Honolulu will be our opportunity to help illuminate a sustainable path forward.

GLDo you think Hawaii is at an energy crossroads, given the Public Utilities Commission's recent decision not to go through with the NextEra merger and our need to meet our 100 percent renewable energy goals?

JMHawaii is certainly at a crossroads for how we produce and use energy. The decisions we make today about our energy system cast a long shadow on the future. Our existing electricity system is aging and outdated. It was built for a different era — an era when oil was cheap and the climate wasn't changing. In fact, the largest power plant on Oahu today was running before Zippy's existed. This old system is being pushed to its limits with the addition of new clean energy sources, like the almost 80,000 rooftop solar systems helping to power our state today. We need to re-envision our energy systems to accommodate our clean, renewable sources of power.

Our 21st-century system will likely be more flexible, more distributed, more reliable — and more affordable. But we need to make those choices today. The utility is currently going through its long-term planning process. The energy landscape is changing more rapidly today than any other time in Hawaiian Electric's 125-year history. The plans must accommodate the quickly evolving technologies, disruptive ideas, and new business models to accelerate our 100-percent renewable energy future.

Similarly for transportation, which is increasingly intertwined with our electricity system. How do we enable new transportation options, such as electric and hydrogen vehicles, bicycles, and shared transit, that don't rely on fossil fuels? To solve our increasingly urgent climate crisis, these are questions we need to answer today.

So we are at a turning point technologically, socially, and politically. Ten years ago we were almost 100-percent dependent on fossil fuel for electricity. Today it is down to about 75-percent dependent, and we've passed a law bringing it down to zero within a generation.

GL: Do you think there are any lessons we can learn from other island nations? What’s a good example?

There are many lessons that we can learn from and share with other island nations. Since islands are not connected to a larger energy grid, they must "go it alone" and develop ways to match energy supply and demand on the small island system. This makes islands the perfect testbeds for new technologies, policies, and programs to demonstrate 100-percent renewable energy.

Examples can be found around the globe. Iceland put its abundant geothermal and hydroelectric resources to work decades ago to rid itself of fossil fuel. Today they produce more renewable energy than they use on the island, enabling new, energy-intensive industries, such as aluminum production for export.

The island of Tokelau off of New Zealand was one of the first to go 100% renewable using solar with battery storage. In overcast weather, they use backup generators that run on local coconut oil, providing power while recharging the battery bank.

El Hierro in the Canary Islands uses an innovative wind and energy storage system that began operations last year. Their energy storage system works by pumping water uphill when they have excess wind power. That water is then used to run a hydroelectric generator when they lack enough wind power. Lessons like these can be found on islands everywhere — it's up to us to develop the right set of clean energy solutions for our home.

NW: Do you see great potential for community solar projects in Hawaii?

JM: Community solar has the potential to make our clean energy revolution accessible to all families and businesses. Over the past decade, a new solar system was installed every hour in Hawaii. But most of those systems were installed on single-family homes. Most renters, businesses, nonprofits, and residents who live in condos or multi-unit dwellings simply don't have the option today of going solar. Community solar, or community renewables, changes that. Anyone –regardless of where they live on the island — will be able to participate in and benefit from solar and other renewable systems, even if those systems weren't directly on their property.

Community solar — which has been too long in coming — brings some equality to our clean energy policy. Everyone should be able to participate in Hawaii's clean energy future, not just those fortunate enough to have a big roof over their heads.

Community solar also allows residents to "hui up" to find energy solutions. For example, several condo owners in different buildings may collectively install solar panels in another location with spare rooftop capacity. Even larger communities can join together to install renewable energy in ways that are most effective and efficient for their particular community. Or public agencies, such as schools, colleges, universities, and local governments will have more flexibility to access renewable energy across their systems.

Getting to 100-percent renewable energy is important. But it's equally important how we get there. Community solar lets everyone participate in the power of our shared energy future.

Wind and solar power are both present in Hawaii. Associated Press.

Related Video: Monster Tajima's Run for the Record, Pikes Peak (2014)

Posted in Blue Planet Foundation, climate change, IUCN, IUCN World Conservation Congress, solar | Comments Off on IUCN Spotlight: Jeff Mikulina

Free energy kits

July 6th, 2016


The Blue Planet Foundation, in partnership with Bidgely, an Energy Excelerator portfolio company and Hawaiian Electric, is offering free home energy monitoring kits to 750 homes across Oahu.

The software kit allows participants to measure how much energy their homes and specific appliances – like the refrigerator or water heater – are using at a given time via an app.

It will also include tips and fun energy challenges that participants complete for the chance to win prizes.

The pilot program's goal is to equip households and businesses with the tools they need to take control of their energy choices, and shift power consumption patterns to better match renewable energy supply as well as reduce peak energy demand.

"We're making the invisible, visible," said David Aquino, Blue Planet's director of innovation. "Many residents get a $200 energy bill at the end of the month and have no idea how, when, or where that energy was used."

Blue Planet will schedule and provide free installation of the energy kits which will involve hooking up a device to the circuit breaker box (should take no more than 30 minutes). The Bidgely HomeBeat app will display in-home energy consumption and the breakdown of energy use by each appliance, via a smartphone or online, with real-time alerts.

Bidgely has launched similar programs in other parts of the U.S., including in 2014 with Pacific Gas & Electric in northern California, which found that monitoring appliances yielded up to 7.7 percent in energy savings among about 850 participants.

Results from the Oahu pilot program should be released at the end of the year.

Visit to schedule an installation.

Posted in Blue Planet Foundation, Energy | Comments Off on Free energy kits

Two-faced utility?

February 26th, 2016

Honolulu Star-Advertiser file photo by Krystle Marcellus.

Honolulu Star-Advertiser file photo by Krystle Marcellus.

Several non-profit environmental and solar advocacy groups united their voices this week in protest of the Hawaiian Electric Industries' maneuvers to oppose renewable energy. Although HECO publicly claims to be working toward the state's goal of using 100 percent renewables by 2045, its actions seem to support just the opposite.

It's like having a two-faced utility. HECO's corporate website will tell you it's committed to protecting the environment, with a nice photo of a Hawaiian sea turtle.

And yet, the Clean Energy Coalition points out how HECO is moving Hawaii in the wrong direction, considering:

>> HECO just proposed the building of a 383-megawatt power plant on Oahu to burn liquefied natural gas, or diesel oil, if the NextEra deal is approved.

>> HECO is asking to expand the state's largest coal plant to 189 megawatts, which is equivalent to the power generated by allowing about 6,000 homes to install rooftop solar.

>> Yet HECO just killed a deal for three large solar farms which would have brought more than 100 megawatts of clean and relatively inexpensive energy on to the grid, reducing electricity rates for Oahu residents.

>> HECO fought to slash compensation to residents with rooftop solar and limit the amount of solar that can be installed.

>> On Oahu, HECO has not approved a rooftop solar application under the new Public Utilities Commission tariffs in more than four months.

On Monday, Earthjustice, The Sierra Club, Blue Planet Foundation, Hawaii PV Coalition, Alliance for Solar Choice and Hawaii Solar Energy Association raised the above concerns with Hawaii's largest electrical utilities.

"Hawaii claims to support clean energy," said Marti Townsend, director of the Sierra Club of Hawaii. "So why isn't HECO moving forward with real clean energy projects? How can a state-sponsored public utility flout the will of the people and the Legislature?"

Robert Harris, spokesman for the Alliance for Solar Choice, said: "It's time to change the system. We need to look at options, such as putting another entity in charge of running the grid who doesn't produce or sell power. HECO won't change its stripes if it's not in its financial interest to do so."

Rick Reed, president of the Hawaii Solar Energy Association, said 96 percent of people in Hawaii believe we should have more solar power, not less.

"Anything that's not meaningfully moving in that direction isn't respecting what the people want: cheaper and cleaner power," he said.

Jeff Mikulina, executive director of the Blue Planet Foundation, said: "It's time to say no to more fossil fuels. It's simply not acceptable for our utility to be proposing new fossil fuels at the same time it's slow down clean, local power."

The Public Utilities Commission resumes a third round of testimony on NextEra Energy Inc.'s proposed $4.3 billion purchase of the state's largest electric utility next week.

WEfficiency again

November 5th, 2014

The Boys and Girls Club of Hawaii is using WEfficiency to raise funds for more efficient lighting at its Clubhouses in Waianae, Ewa Beach and McCully. Courtesy photo.

The Boys and Girls Club of Hawaii is using WEfficiency to raise funds for more efficient lighting at its Clubhouses in Waianae, Ewa Beach and McCully. Courtesy photo.

It seems as if crowdfunding is everywhere these days — it's the new approach to fundraising, whether it's for a new documentary film, book, or even to make a potato salad.

WEfficiency is a new online fundraising platform that can make a real impact for local non-profits in Hawaii. You either make a donation or a loan that is repaid using a portion of the energy cost savings. The lender has the option of recycling the loan to another project.

The Boys & Girls Club of Hawaii partnered with the Blue Planet Foundation to launch its energy efficiency campaign seeking $60,000 to install high-efficiency lighting at its Clubhouses in Waianae, Ewa Beach and McCully. If successful, the funds would save about $18,000 a year in energy costs.

The campaign kicked off at the Art + Flea in Kakaako on Thursday, Oct. 30 and lasts until Tuesday, Dec. 30.

"By increasing energy efficiency at our facilities, we reduce energy cost and free up resources to better serve our keiki and provide them with programs that will help them to become responsible citizens of their communities," said BGCH president and CEO Tim Motts.

Hawaii Public Radio, the YWCA of Honolulu and Damien Memorial School have all funded energy efficiency projects successfully through WEfficiency.


Posted in Blue Planet Foundation, Energy | Comments Off on WEfficiency again

Crowdfunding works for YWCA

July 22nd, 2014

The YWCA of Oahu, which raised its goal of nearly $15,000 for a lighting efficiency project through WEfficiency.

The YWCA of Oahu, which raised its goal of nearly $15,000 for a lighting efficiency project through WEfficiency. Photo courtesy YWCA of Oahu.

The Blue Planet Foundation's WEfficiency crowdfunding platform has paid off for the YWCA of Oahu's Laniakea facility at 1040 Richards St.

Through Wefficiency, the YWCA was able to obtain a combination of donations and loans for nearly $15,000 for a high efficiency lighting project. The lighting upgrade is expected to shave about $8,500 a year on the electricity bill.

"The YWCA of Oahu is so humbled by the overwhelming support of the community in funding our WEfficiency campaign," said YWCA's director of fund development Wendy Chang. "The money we save on energy will go directly into the services that help to empower women from all walks of life."

A portion of savings will be used to pay back loans, with the first repayments within six months. Loanators can shift the loan to another non-profit group's campaign, if they desire, via WEfficiency.

For instance, Damien Memorial School and Hawaii Public Radio, are also campaigning for energy-efficient retrofits via WEfficiency.  Damien needs another $8,000 to reach a $12,000 goal. HPR needs another $5,000 for its $11,000 goal.

If you're a non-profit interested in participating in WEfficiency, email

Posted in Blue Planet Foundation, Energy | Comments Off on Crowdfunding works for YWCA

WEfficiency: Crowdfunding to help non-profits

May 30th, 2014

Crowdfunding is such the thing to do these days.

Now, with the Blue Planet Foundation's launch of WEfficiency, you can donate or loan money to a non-profit group, specifically with the intention of helping it become more energy-efficient.

It's a win-win because a $1 donation can turn into $4 in energy savings. A $10,000 lighting retrofit, for example, can save the non-profit up to $40,000 over its lifetime. The non-profit's investment in energy efficiency measures results in immediate energy savings.

You can opt to give the non-profit a loan (called a "loanation") and get your money back, or you can give an outright donation.


The first three non-profits that are giving WEfficiency a shot are YWCA Laniakea, Damien Memorial School and Hawaii Public Radio.

To boost the kick-off of WEfficiency, Hawaii Energy, a ratepayer-funded energy conservation program , is offering matching "loanations."

Gov. Neil Abercrombie joined Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell and the Blue Planet foundation board of directors in presenting the first "loanations" to representatives from the three non-profit groups last Thursday (May 22) to kick off the program.

In 2013, WEfficiecy, which was developed by Honolulu-based solutions agency Sudokrew, was formally recognized as a Clinton Global Initiative Commitment to Action.

To make a "loanation," visit


Posted in Blue Planet Foundation, Energy, Green non-profits, Hawaii Energy | Comments Off on WEfficiency: Crowdfunding to help non-profits

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