Public Relations

AES Hawai‘i: Leading Hawai‘i’s Clean Energy Transition

AES Hawai‘i had been a crucial provider of low-cost electricity for homes and businesses on O‘ahu since September 1, 1992, with its operation of the Barbers Point Coal Plant, the State of Hawai‘i’s only coal-fueled power plant.

In recent years, AES Hawai‘i has expanded its focus statewide with the development and/or operation of several notable renewable energy projects, including:

  • Lāwa‘i Solar + Storage in partnership with Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative, winner of the Edison Electric Institute’s prestigious Edison Award (commissioned in 2019);
  • Nā Pua Makani, the state-of-the-art wind power facility on O‘ahu’s North Shore (commissioned in 2020);
  • Waikoloa Solar + Storage, Hawai‘i Island’s largest solar facility (commissioned in 2022);
  • West O‘ahu Solar + Storage in partnership with the University of Hawai‘i (operations to begin in 2024); and, 
  • Kuihelani Solar +Storage on Maui, the state’s largest solar facility (operations to begin in 2024). 

Collectively, AES Hawaiʻi has nine renewable energy projects in development or in operation, more than any other energy developer in Hawai‘i.

As AES Hawai‘i was making its mark as a statewide leader in renewable energy, the company was also in the process of closing the Barbers Point Coal Plant in Kapolei. As required by state law, AES Hawai‘i was shutting down the coal plant on September 1, 2022, to support Hawai‘i’s conversion to having 100% renewable energy on every island grid by 2045.

The Challenge

AES Hawai‘i’s challenge? How to effectively conclude the 30-year run of the coal plant and its loyal employees with dignity and respect, while also highlighting the company’s standing as a statewide leader in renewable energy.  

The Solution

AES Hawai‘i retained Anthology in mid-May 2022 to develop a public relations program that would successfully resolve this dual challenge of both honoring the coal plant and its employees, and also showcasing the company as Hawai‘i’s renewable energy leader.  

Anthology immediately went to work on a strategy that revolved around a comprehensive public relations plan utilizing a series of high-profile events in the summer of 2022 that would bring widespread attention about AES Hawai‘i’s accomplishments to the attention of energy industry stakeholders, lawmakers and government officials, news media, and the general public.

Featured articles in Maui Now (left) and Honolulu Civil Beat (right).

The strategy and tactics implemented focused on AES Hawai‘i’s transition to a company focused on clean energy and decarbonization, while publicizing the contributions made by the coal plant to provide low-cost electricity to O‘ahu homes and businesses for 30 years. 

The following five events were the focus of Anthology’s efforts to enhance AES Hawai‘i’s public profile: 

  • June 5-8, 2022: Western Conference of Public Service Commissioners in Honolulu. As one of the conference’s major sponsors, Anthology designed an impressive exhibit display showcasing AES Hawai‘i’s renewable energy portfolio utilizing images, video, and collateral materials for attendees. 
  • July 29, 2022: Kuihelani Solar + Storage groundbreaking ceremony on Maui. The state’s largest solar project, Kuihelani will support 15% of Maui’s energy needs powering 27,000 homes when it begins operations. Anthology highlighted the project’s significance and AES Hawai‘i’s commitment to providing clean, renewable energy for Maui’s future.  
  • July 30, 2022: Honoring the Barbers Point Coal Plant employees with a special mahalo celebration for their loyalty and service in providing up to 20% of O‘ahu’s electricity needs over 30 years. Anthology highlighted to media the recognition of the employees’ dedication as a prelude to the upcoming ceremony to close the coal plant.  
  • August 18, 2022: Barbers Point Coal Plant closing ceremony. The centerpiece of Anthology’s public relations strategy featured an on-site event with 100 guests, highlighted by display boards showing AES Hawai‘i’s renewable energy projects statewide, a special video about the coal plant employees, remarks by the governor and AES executives paying tribute to the employees, a catered reception, and extensive media coverage by all major Hawai‘i news outlets.  
  • August 19, 2022: Waikoloa Solar + Storage site inspection. Key lawmakers, stakeholders, and media received a preview of the progress being made by AES Hawai‘i with the construction of Hawai‘i Island’s largest solar project, with operations scheduled to begin in spring 2023. Anthology showcased the solar facility’s progress and how it will benefit Hawai‘i Island’s clean energy future to media and audiences statewide.  

Anthology supported the positive exposure created by these events for AES Hawai‘i with consistent media outreach through the issuance of news releases, scheduling of media interviews, and placement of news stories. The overall messaging focused on AES Hawai‘i’s commitment to a clean energy future, the benefits to Hawai‘i’s health and environment, and the reliability of AES Hawai‘i in going forward with its array of projects despite economic and logistical challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.  

AES Hawai‘i has solidified its position as Hawai‘i’s renewable energy leader. The public has a greater understanding of how AES Hawai‘i is developing clean energy projects that are benefiting the people of Hawai‘i today and for future generations to come. 

Featured article in the Star Advertiser.