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Business Energy Guide 2012

Making the Transition Helping Hawaii's Businesses Become Energy Efficient

By: Sherie Char

(page 6 of 8)

Ambassadors of Energy

“Gas is the most direct source of energy other than the sun,” says Jeffrey Kissel, president and chief executive officer for The Gas Co. “It is an energy-efficient, environmentally friendly source of power. Gas, for the purpose that we use it, is the straightest line in the energy spectrum.”

Hawaii’s small and large businesses have relied on The Gas Co.’s expertise since 1904. Restaurants and laundry-service businesses use gas for cooking and drying clothes at a high volume, while most of Hawaii’s luxurious hotels and resorts use gas to heat swimming pools and spas. Condominiums and apartment buildings rely on The Gas Co. to help provide hot water for showers and baths for its residents.

“We really have one of the best group of employees serving our customers, and we are extremely proud of them,” says Kissel. “We consider every one of them as an ambassador for energy. Ask our employees any question and they will gladly help them get the answers.”

As an ambassador of energy, The Gas Co. is making it simple for businesses to sign up for gas. There are programs that help to subsidize installations, offer installation discounts and provide assistance with purchasing Energy Star® appliances. Despite Hawaii’s challenging economy, Kissel says there has been an increase in customers.

“We’ve actually had more and more people choose to use gas, even seeing an increase during the recession, because of its efficiency,” he says. “Gas, itself, is a much lower carbon source of energy that we have in Hawaii other than solar energy.”

The Gas Co. produces synthetic natural gas (SNG) in Hawaii from byproducts of imported petroleum through a refining process.

“It doesn’t require us to import any additional petroleum,” says Kissel. “That’s why we say it’s the cleanest and best source of energy next to the sun.”

Another added benefit: Gas stays on even during a power outage.

“When we had the earthquake in 2006, and Waikiki was in the dark, the tiki torches kept burning,” says Kissel. “It was actually a safety benefit to the public.”

The Gas Co. also helps businesses that want to use renewable energy, but don’t have the space to install PV systems.

“Gas, itself, is a much lower carbon source of energy
that we have in Hawaii other than solar energy.”
— Jeffrey Kissel, president and chief executive officer,
The Gas Co.
 

“For example, in Waikiki, we’re able to deliver our renewable source of energy to all of our customers anywhere, regardless of whether they have rooftop access to solar,” says Kissel. “We’re developing diverse sources of gas energy that are both renewable and sustainable, so that we can help Hawaii move away from its dependence upon petroleum.”

Another way The Gas Co. is helping Hawaii become more energy independent is by producing hydrogen for General Motors’ hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicles.

“We’re making our hydrogen fuel at a cost which is competitive with gasoline so we can diversify our sources of energy for our transportation needs, as well as our gas needs,” he says. “We already have the infrastructure in our pipelines so we can distribute this fuel throughout the Honolulu metropolitan area.”

The first 20 vehicles are in Hawaii right now as part of the pilot project. Full-scale production is scheduled to commence about 2015.

In addition to the partnership with General Motors, The Gas Co. is supporting Hawaii’s clean energy future by converting non-food grade oils and animal fat to natural gas, propane and other fuels. 

“We use the liquid fuels to power our production plant, and we put the natural gas and the propane into our system so our customers can use it,” he says.

Kissel believes that energy is one of the most important pillars supporting our community.

“We believe that a great society invests in health care, education and infrastructure, and energy is a critical component of infrastructure,” he says. “Our new initiatives for 2012 will deliver our product at or below the current price of petroleum. We’re hoping that what we do actually slows down the rate of increase in energy cost in Hawaii, and ultimately reverses it.”

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