The Hawaii Business 20 for the Next 20
(page 9 of 21)
Photo: Joshua Fletcher
Michael Kaleikini, age 50
Plant manager, Puna Geothermal Venture
There are times when you find the job. Other times, the job finds you.
The latter is surely true for Michael Kaleikini, plant manager for PGV, the Big Island geothermal company that is creating electric power for the Hawaii County grid.
Kaleikini brings an ideal mix of experience and perspective to his job. He is an engineer trained in sophisticated power systems after spending six years in the Navy, usually working in the engine room, where heat was converted into power.
That’s precisely what PGV is doing in Puna. But Kaleikini – a 1979 Kamehameha Schools graduate who grew up in Hauula with family roots on Molokai – is also in touch with the concerns of the Hawaiian community, which sees the volcano as a cultural resource that must be treated with care and respect.
“In Hawaii,” he says, “everything is cultural. There are people with certain cultural beliefs. But there is heightened awareness on both sides. We know there are folks with certain beliefs and we just don’t ignore them.
“It’s a work in progress. There will always be a certain amount of people who are against what is being done. But, in general, considering the way things are going in the world, burning fossil fuels makes less and less sense.
“I wouldn’t say we are past it (cultural opposition) but we have to work together.”
While Kaleikini’s focus is engineering, he spends much of his time meeting and consulting with community groups. He recognizes that the potential of geothermal energy will only be realized if the public fully supports it. And he insists PGV has a great story to tell.
“Environmentally, this is one of the cleanest, safest technologies in energy generation. The heat source comes up, it is used to generate electricity, then it goes back to the earth. It’s a closed loop.”
1. Randy Baldemor
2. James Bennett
3. Kalei Cadinha-Puaa
4. Kainoa Daines
5. Matthew Delaney
6. Mark Duda
7. Charles Hew-Len
8. Michael Kaleikini
9. Daniel Leuck
10. Jennifer Li Dotson
11. Bryan Luke
12. Wesley Machida
13. Makani Maeva
14. Cameron Nekota
15. Robert Piper
16. Carol Reimann
17. Claire Sullivan
18. Michael Tresler
19. Raymond Vara, Jr.
20. Aulani Wilhelm
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