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Powering Up: Energy in Hawaii

A Special Report from the State of Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism (DBEDT)

(page 6 of 9)

Referentia's T-REX is a high performance time series database designed to provide the instant data accessibility needed to enable planning and operational decision making. The T-REX team includes, from left, Iris Koga, Christopher Dietsch, Ejay Tumacder, Ryan Rolland and Matthew Shawver.

Power Management

Local company designed system to help MECO store and access data quickly.


Referentia Systems Inc. carved a comfortable niche for itself as a high-end provider of cyber security and network solutions for military and government clients.

But in recent years, the local information technology company has discovered a new, fast-growing market for its database management expertise: green energy.

Working with Maui Electric Co., Referentia has developed a highly specialized database management system that allows the local utility to collect the mountains of data on how its customers are using electricity every other second.

The database—the Time Series Rapid Exploration System, or T-REX—allows utilities to visualize what is happening on the grid in real time, and help successfully integrate more solar, wind, smart-grid technologies, and other clean energy assets while improving service reliability.

“Referentia developed a database application for our computer control systems in a Hawai‘i Renewable Energy Development Venture-funded project,” said Maui Electric Co. President Sharon Suzuki. “The application efficiently stores and allows MECO operations personnel to graphically view large amounts of data quickly, easily and securely to improve efficiency and reliability of service to our customers.” Referentia is one of hundreds of companies that make up the diverse chain of suppliers, vendors and consultants that are helping to fuel Hawai‘i’s clean tech boom and are developing the state’s reputation as a clean tech testbed.

“It’s homegrown companies like this that are helping to drive innovation and job growth in Hawai‘i’s clean tech sector,” said Richard Lim, director of the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism.

Founded in 1996, Hawai‘i-based Referentia employs about 100 people in Hawai‘i, California and Virginia, and at military installations throughout the world.


Going Green’s Good for Gelateria

Italian ice cream company reaps savings with energy efficient strategies

Dirk and Nicole Koeppenkastrop (left) save $1,500 a month on Il Gelato’s electricity bill by using energy efficient equipment.
Shown with them are their son Moritz and daughter Anna.

Il Gelato Hawaii

For Dirk Koeppenkastrop, green business practices not only protect the planet. They’re also good for business.

Koeppenkastrop, co-founder of Il Gelato Hawaii, a fast-growing maker of premium, Italian-style gelato and nonfat sorbettos, said his company’s investments in energy efficient equipment and fuel reduction strategies are paying off handsomely.  

While company revenues have grown five-fold in the past two years, Koeppenkastrop said energy costs have remained flat.

“Green business strategies not only benefit the environment. It also benefits the bottom line,” he said.

“I never felt for one second that it was a waste of time or money.”

Koeppenkastrop’s company manufactures its high-end, locally flavored products at its Iwilei plant and wholesales those products to such fine-dining restaurants and hotels as Roy’s and Michel’s. Like many in the food business, Il Gelato uses a lot of electricity and gasoline to make and distribute its products.

Il Gelato merges traditional Italian ice cream-making with local and international flavors.

Il Gelato delivers its products in six-quart plastic tubs, which it recycles, saving the company having to send more than 15,000 plastic tubs each year to Hawai‘i’s already crowded landfills.

Il Gelato also consolidated truck delivery and pick-up schedules, sharply reducing its gasoline expenses. It also has invested in a large, state-of-the-art walk-in freezer, replacing seven wall freezers that required more energy. The walk-in freezer is saving the company about $1,500 a month in electricity costs.

Koeppenkastrop said his company will really move the needle when it completes the installation of solar panels at its offices, which will eventually provide most, if not all of the company’s energy needs.

“This investment will pay for itself in four years,” he said. “After that, we will be getting energy for free.”

Il Gelato Hawaii
Founded in 2010 by Dirk Koeppenkastrop and his wife Nicole Lueker. Flavors: more than 95. Local ingredients include pineapples from Kunia, coffee from Kona, macadamia nuts and guavas from the Big Island. Imported ingredients include vanilla pods from Tahiti, pistachios from Sicily, dark chocolate and cocoa from Belgium, and hazelnuts, almonds, walnuts and pine nuts from Italy.

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