Maui Business

Speakers Announced for Hawai‘i Energy Conference on June 22 and June 24

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Suleman Khan, CEO, Swell Energy will give the Keynote on Day 1 of the Hawaiʻi Energy Conference. (left); Mark Toney, Executive Director, The Utility Reform Network (TURN) will kick-off Day 2 of the Hawaii Energy Conference (middle); Frank De Rego, Jr, Director of Business Development Projects, MEDB and President of the Maui Native Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce will moderate the panel, Investing Respectfully in Hawaiʻi (right)

The keynote speakers for the eighth Hawaiʻi Energy Conference have been announced.

CEO of Swell Energy Suleman Khan will give the keynote presentation on “Creating Transformative & Inclusive Investment Opportunities with Virtual Power Plants” on Day 1 – June 22; and Mark Toney is the invite speaker on Day 2 – June 24. Toney of The Utility Reform Network, will present his talk, “Stop Overpaying for Solar: And Other Pathways to Affordable Bills.”

Presented by Maui Economic Development Board and supported by the County of Maui Office of Economic Development, the virtual conference will explore the “Energy Transition in Hawaiʻi: Focus on investments in people and projects.” The 2021 theme will look to answer a key question – how can we invest in people while designing energy projects that are financially viable, resilient, and enhance job skills? 


The CEO of Swell Energy, Suleman Khan will speak on ‘Creating Transformative & Inclusive Investment Opportunities with Virtual Power Plants.’

“With the propagation of distributed energy storage, the intrinsic value and investment outlook for renewable Distributed Energy Resources is rapidly changing,” says Khan. “The ability to aggregate thousands of DERs into a centralized Virtual Power Plant is finally allowing for meaningful inclusion of renewable DERs into the resource planning, grid operations, and energy portfolios of utilities in key markets.”

As CEO of Swell Energy, an energy and grid services company, Suleman directs Swell’s project development, project finance and grid services efforts. In the decade prior to launching Swell, Suleman worked within renewable energy and structured finance, productizing solar and energy storage applications for the residential and commercial markets.


Khan’s keynote will be followed by a panel titled ‘Investing Respectfully in Hawaiʻi’, moderated by Frank De Rego, Jr., Vice Chairman of the Program Committee, President of the Maui Native Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce, and Director of Business Development Projects, MEDB.  Employing a cultural and indigenous lens to focus on the dos and don’ts of developing energy projects in Hawaiʻi, De Rego will be joined by Carol-Marie Kaʻonohi Lee (Poʻo, ʻAha Moku O Honuaʻula Council) Suzanne Singer (Founder/Executive Director, Native Renewables) and Wren Wescoatt (Director of Development, Hawaiʻi, Longroad Energy.)

De Rego observed “I believe our conference attendees will benefit from the cultural ʻike (knowledge) to be shared in this panel as it impacts the development of energy projects in our respective communities.  Along with our experienced Native Hawaiian panelists, we are fortunate to have Suzanne Singer, Ph.D. of the Navajo Nation who is a mechanical engineer and founder of the non-profit Native Renewables in Northern Arizona. She will share the cultural dimensions of her work in developing energy projects for those in rural Hopi and Navajo communities that are off the electrical grid.”

Day 2, June 24, will kick off with Mark Toney of The Utility Reform Network with his talk, “Stop Overpaying for Solar: And Other Pathways to Affordable Bills.”


As executive director since 2008, Mark aligns the TURN legal, organizing, legislative and communication staff to fight for affordable, sustainable and safe energy, broadband and phone service for all California residents, with a special focus on low-income households, communities of color, immigrants, and rural communities.

The online event features keynotes, panel discussions, interviews, showcases and exhibits all in the virtual setting.  Attendees can visit the virtual exhibit hall to connect via chat and video with sponsors as well as view videos and resources of their products and services. Networking has been a key feature of the Hawaiʻi Energy Conference since its inception in 2014 and the virtual platform will be open in advance, encouraging attendees to connect and build important relationships prior to, during and after the conference.

Companies featured in the Exhibit Hall are sponsors: Hawaiian Electric Company; the Hawai`i Natural Energy Institute (HNEI); Ulupono Initiative; Elemental Excelerator; Kauaʻi Island Utility Cooperative; Progression Offshore Wind; Swell Energy; Burns & McDonnell; and Exhibitors CoolGreenPower and Generac Power Systems.

With in-person gatherings still limited due to COVID-19, the virtual presentation allows the energy industry leaders from Hawaiʻi, the Continental US, Japan and Europe to continue to exchange ideas on how to better serve the community in today’s rapidly changing power generation and delivery environment.

For information on how to register and other details, visit:


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