Independent Energy President Makes $50,000 Donation to Maui Wildfire Relief

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Solar energy company Independent Energy president Desta Rudolph (right). Left photo: Independent Energy president Desta Rudolph and Project Empower executive director John Cheever visit one of the emergency housing units at ‘Ohana Hope Village.

The president of solar energy company Independent Energy, Desta Rudolph, has donated $50,000 to Project Empower, a nonprofit that has focused on helping Maui recover from deadly wildfires that destroyed the historic town of Lahaina, displacing thousands of residents.

Nearly eight months after one of the nation’s most deadly and destructive natural disasters, the need for emergency housing on Maui remains as urgent as ever. ʻOhana Hope Village—an ambitious project bringing together dozens of community partners—is rising to provide quality, comfortable, semi-permanent emergency housing. The Village is the current focus of Project Empower, spun-off as an independent charitable organization last year from renewable energy firm RevoluSun.

“I think everyone in Hawaii was deeply affected by what happened on Maui, and countless companies and individuals felt a powerful call to help— at Independent Energy, we felt we had to do more,” Rudolph said. “Being a solar company and seeing the amazing work done by Project Empower to provide power to those in need was very inspiring. The core of solar power is to benefit the community with sustainable, renewable energy that can really change lives.“


Rudolph’s donation is the largest single gift received by Project Empower, which is itself the culmination of over a decade of charitable giving and work coordinated by RevoluSun and John Cheever, a senior commercial project developer who was tapped to be the executive director of the 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.

“When Desta reached out to us, asking how he could help with Project Empower’s efforts, we were so grateful for his generous offer,” Cheever said. “However, after our first discussion about their level of support , he still managed to surprise all of us by giving many times more than we originally talked about.”

Rudolph began his solar energy career at age 19. A 2016 graduate of Mililani High School, he founded Independent Energy in 2020, even while studying at UH West Oʻahu. Independent Energy now boasts 22 employees with more than $6 million in annual revenue.


Rudolph meanwhile serves as a member of the Hawaiʻi Solar Energy Association (HSEA), an organization dedicated to advancing the solar industry and aiding Hawaii in achieving its goal of 100% renewable energy by 2045. He is also a member of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and GRID Alternatives. Desta hopes this donation sets an example for more corporate giving from solar companies and other local businesses to combine their efforts and provide power, stability, and relief for those who need it most.

The $50,000 donation to Maui wildfire relief will bolster the collective efforts of a number of organizations to build 88 units of emergency housing at the 10-acre ʻOhana Hope Village. RevoluSun has joined forces with local energy leaders like Independent Energy, Maui-based solar installer Rising Sun, and Hawaiʻi architecture firm Hawaiʻi Off Grid to make sure that the homes are more than simple shelters. They will be powered entirely by the sun, and kept cool and comfortable thanks to climate control systems donated by Daikin, the world’s largest air conditioning company. The ʻOhana Hope Village project is being led by the nonprofit Family Life Center, founded in 1982, which RevoluSun has supported with donations and in-kind services and supplies for over a decade.


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