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20 for the Next 20 – February 20, 2020

20 for the Next 20: Rebecca Dayhuff Matsushima, Hawaiian Electric Co.

Photography: Josiah Patterson

Rebecca Dayhuff Matsushima

Director of Renewable Acquisition
Hawaiian Electric Co.
Age 38

Rebecca Dayhuff Matsushima’s job is both challenging and crucial. As the director of renewable acquisition for Hawaiian Electric Co., she deals with Hawai‘i’s energy future in concrete terms.

Is this the right place for a wind farm? Can it withstand gale-force winds? Is the site accessible? Will this developer be a reliable source of energy to HECO?

These are just a few of the questions she and her team of 35 face as they help the state reach its goal of 100% renewable electricity by 2045.

“I definitely think renewable energy is one of our biggest issues that we need to address. You look at the climate change statistics and see just how fast it’s changing,” Matsushima says.

Her team is building a network of renewable energy producers on every major island except Kaua‘i (which has an independent utility) to power grids without coal or oil.

“Just finding sites that are suitable or land that’s available is one of the biggest challenges. And there are other environmental concerns. We also have endangered species so you have to find land where you’re not going to harm those natural habitats. And resilience is an issue. We want to make sure projects can withstand storms.”

The company is in the midst of its largest renewable power procurement ever: requests for proposals on five islands. “If we were to procure the whole amount and it was all solar, that would equal a land area of about 3,000 acres or 29 Aloha Stadiums, parking lots included,” says Matsushima.

Jim Alberts, who as HECO’s senior VP of business development and strategy oversees Matsushima’s team, is impressed with how she handles the immense complications of developing this grid, including negotiating contracts to get the best prices for customers as well as fair compensation for energy developers.

“She has been an incredible innovator to create new ways to make this happen,” Alberts says. “She has created a completely new model and the way
she got it done was through collaboration.”

Matsushima grew up in Indiana, coming to Hawai‘i 15 years ago to earn both a law and a business degree at UH Mānoa. After working on renewable energy projects with HECO while at Goodsill Anderson Quinn & Stifel, she joined HECO’s legal team in 2012 and was named to her current position in 2017.

“I feel that I’m truly making a better future for Hawai‘i, and my children are going to grow up in an environment of cleaner energy,” she says.

View the rest of the 20 for 20 2020 cohort here.

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