HSI CEO Jim Whitcomb Interviewed by New York Times

Jim Whitcomb interviewed by New York Times about Hawaii Solar Industry

In a recent article, The New York Times focused on the current state of the solar industry in Hawaii. Taking note of the plight of many people who want to get solar, but find it very difficult due to delays by Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO) for approval of their solar applications, the article revealed to the rest of the country what many people in Hawaii already know, solar energy is a hot commodity that is challenging for some to acquire.

Boasting the highest electrical rates in the country, solar photovoltaic (PV) has been a highly cost-efficient alternative to many homeowners in the state. According to the federal Energy Information Administration, roughly 12 percent of residential homes in Hawaii now have PV systems, the highest in the nation.

Haleakala Solar founder and CEO, Jim Whitcomb, who is often refreshingly blunt in his assessment of the state of affairs of solar in Hawaii was quoted with this perspective, “The lumbering big utilities that are so used to taking three months to study this and then six months to do that — what they don’t understand is that things are moving at the speed of business. Like with digital photography — this is inevitable.”

Whitcomb also makes a couple of appearances in a video produced by the Times that accompanied the article. He explains his advocacy of changing the utility company’s business model from energy generation to energy storage. He explains, “Their jobs becomes, store the energy, manage it, move it where it’s needed. Let the public create generation facilities, thereby benefitting everybody”.

To view the full article article and watch the video go here.

Jim Whitcomb Interviewed on Hawaii Money Resource

Jim Whitcomb with Marko Mijuskovic of Hawaii Money Resource

Jim Whitcomb with Marko Mijuskovic of Hawaii Money Resource

Jim Whitcomb, founder and CEO of Haleakala Solar, was the featured guest on the popular radio program Hawaii Money Resource on June 20th, 2013. Hawaii Money Resource is a weekly talk-show hosted by Marko Mijuskovic, who interviews the top entrepreneurs of Hawaii in order to exchange new ideas, latest news, expert advice, and growth strategies for small business owners.

Marko Mijuskovic is talented at asking the right questions which allow listener’s to learn what makes these business leaders tick. He started the program by asking about Jim’s personal story. It’s an interesting one. Jim says that in the beginning, “I came to the Islands to surf. I had my own surf shop on the East Coast in Wildwood, New Jersey and made my own boards the old fashioned way, before leashes and all that other stuff. I came out to Hawaii and decided to go to college as a reason to stay in Hawaii, so my parents wouldn’t think I was just slacking off.” He majored in Accounting, but decided to take a different route to “decompress from all that college stuff”. He went to work for a plumber on Oahu, and learned many skills that would help him in major ways in the future.

jim whitcombJim explains in the interview how he had a major epiphany which was, indeed, the seed of Haleakala Solar. He tells the story about his epiphany and how Haleakala Solar came to be.

Jim was always a bit of an environmentalist. Not the type that would go around hugging trees, but he thought deeply about the environment and the impact that is caused by industry, etc. He explains, “I really believed that the Planet was not being taken care of. I had read the book ‘Spaceship Earth’ by Buckminster Fuller, a very, very complicated book – so complicated that I didn’t even finish the whole thing since he had sentences that were 200 words long – but the essence of what he tried to get across was that we are like in a little space capsule hurling through the universe with a finite amount of water, a finite amount of air, a finite resource, and if we didn’t take care of those things, he likened it to “would you, for instance, go to the bathroom in the corner of your space capsule? Would you be wasteful?” Of course you wouldn’t, because you knew you were in a space capsule. and there’s nothing more. If you ruin the environment you’re in it’s ruined, there’s nothing more. So, I always kept that in the back of my mind.”

Jim Whitcomb admits that he works a lot. There’s no doubt about it. Although he works 10 to 11 hour days, he always holds on to a wise old saying which has now become his mantra, “If you love what you do, you don’t work a day in your life.” So, for him it’s easy to work so much since he truly loves what he does. He expresses, “I just started to love this business. People would come and tell me that their bill went down. That they felt good about it.” And that would only fuel his passion and love for all things solar. He felt like he was doing something to help save the planet.

Marko Mijuskovic always ends his radio program by asking three very intriguing questions:

Question #1: If you could go back 30 years, would you do it again?

Jim’s Answer:
“In a heartbeat. The thrill of victory, the agony of defeat, the amount of satisfaction you get out of life by overcoming things and then finally succeeding. Climbing to the top of the mountain. I worked for other people, and have had my share of misery, and worry, and everything else, but boy, being an entrepreneur is just thrilling. And if I fail at this, I’ll just start up again. It’s just thrilling to be in business.”

Question #2: What’s in store for the future?

Jim’s Answer:
“The future, as always, is filled with a lot of challenges, and yet, as with everything, a lot of promise, hope and opportunity. I was taught by one of my business mentors many years ago, “Look for more troubles, that’s where all the opportunity is.” We as a company are planning for the next loss of the tax credits. The Federal tax credits will expire in 2016. We have our challenges here in the State of Hawaii in our tax department . We have challenges with our utility company and their ability to absorb all the new power that is being produced, we have the challenge of the current administration which is over-regulating us, we have a lot of challenges as a country. But specifically looking forward to my industry, we have to find out how to become as mainstream as the construction industry.”

Question #3: What are your words of wisdom?

Jim’s Answer:
“Follow your dreams. We live in America, land of opportunity. Get up and do it.”

It was a great pleasure for Jim Whitcomb and Haleakala Solar to be featured on Hawaii Money Resource. You may listen to the full interview by following the link below.

LISTEN TO FULL INTERVIEW
(Be patient… audio begins 15sec. in.)