Education & Experience. Doug McLeod lives on Maui and has been active in renewable energy and environmental issues for more than 25 years. He holds a degree in Political Science from The Johns Hopkins University and a J.D. from the KU School of Law. He practiced energy and environmental law for a number of years and was a partner in the law firm now known as Husch Blackwell. He developed the first Feed In Tariff pv project in Hawaii before serving a term as Energy Commissioner for the County of Maui. His consulting firm DKK Energy Services LLC is active in wind and solar projects, and he donates his time to serve as Chair of the Program Committee for the Maui Energy Conference and Chair of the Energy Committee of the Maui Tomorrow Foundation.
What do you hope this Energy Conference will accomplish? Bring some new faces and ideas to Hawaii from Japan and the Mainland. I also hope the energy experts in Hawaii will be able to better assess where we stand relative to states like California and Colorado on renewable energy use.
What is your vision for the future of energy? Provide a majority of all electricity used in Hawaii with renewable energy within 10 years.
Why do you think it’s been challenging to transition from fossil fuel generated power to alternative renewable energy? It’s because energy storage in the form of liquid fossil fuel is unbeatable in terms of flexibility and cost. Want to power something at night, in the rain, no problem just start up a motor. Most of the storage infrastructure for liquid fossil fuel is paid; anything else requires new infrastructure.
Hawaii has the highest electric rates in the United States. How do you think this should be addressed? Our costs are comparable or lower than Alaska or the U.S. Virgin Islands, both of which also heavily rely on diesel and other fossil fuels.
Why do you believe it’s important to have open and frank discussions about the future of energy? I think we should focus first on eliminating the possibility of sudden price spikes. In other words, focus on stabilizing the cost at the current levels rather than telling people their bills will drop. Open and frank discussion is important because of our experience with curtailed wind energy. The public did not understand that the wind power added on Maui would not actually lower their bills. In addition, it was not widely understood how often wind energy would be wasted, or curtailed. We need the public to have hopeful yet realistic ideas about how renewable energy will affect cost.