Makai HR Hawaii Business Owner Spotlight: Holu Hou Energy

May 7, 2020 Written by Oralie Chapman

One of the best things about providing outsourced human resources services on Oahu is getting to know the local business owners and managers who run these companies. Hawaii’s diverse business community is close knit and teeming with talent. We hope you find their insights as interesting as we do!

For this Hawaii business owner spotlight, we interviewed Ted Peck, president of Holu Hou Energy. Here is the Q & A:

Q. Tell me about Holu Hou Energy.

A. “Holu Hou Energy was founded by industry veterans at the beginning of 2019. We’re a leader in turn-key solar and energy storage solutions for all sizes of solar and energy storage projects. A lot of solar investment companies won’t touch anything less than a 100kW solar system but we are committed to projects of all sizes – which allows us to help non-profits get solar - by finding the right investor from our wide portfolio. Once the investor is found, they then own and manage the solar panels for the term of the agreement.

From consulting to system design and financing to complete installation and construction management, we provide full-service pv+storage* solutions for commercial, industrial and multi-family residential buildings plus a proprietary micro-grid energy sharing solution for multi-unit dwellings. We call this: behind-the-meter smart micro-grids solutions.”

*Photovoltaics is a process that converts light into electricity using semiconducting materials that exhibit the photovoltaic effect.

Q. Any recent or upcoming exciting developments in your business?

A. “Yes! We have recently broken into the residential market. Holu Hou is known for our work with commercial and multi-family units but this is new. We want to share that our solar battery chemistry has the safest chemistry commercially available.. Our solar batteries are safe for residential homes and we are actively bringing residential customers on board now.”

Q. What is your business objective?

A. “Our objective is to be a part of “filling up the rest of the roofs” because in order to reach our energy goals, all the roofs need solar. We are relentlessly trying to drive down our costs and break down the barriers to getting solar onto all roofs.”

Q. What is your educational and work background?

A. “I am a retired Navy nuclear submarine officer and earned a Bachelor of Science in physics from the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. At Johnson Controls, I led the Solutions team that closed the largest performance contract in the company's history, a $150M retrofit of the 12 airports of the State of Hawaii. As a Principal at Booz Allen Hamilton, I opened the Honolulu office and led it through 40% CAGR growth in its first five years. In 2010 I was recruited out of state government to work for a tech startup holding company called Kuokoa. From the beginning of my tenure in state government to now, I have continued my focus on reducing the state’s dependency on fossil fuel through transformation, recapitalization, and the use of renewable energy, with a continued emphasis on microgrids and distributed assets. I have more than 25 years of senior leadership experience in business, government, and energy management, including development of the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative as the state's Energy Administrator. I led energy planning and shaping of the state’s approach to renewable energy permitting and facilitation, the state hydrogen program, the greenhouse gas emission reduction task force, energy assurance planning, and other strategic initiatives and programs.”

Q. What led to the formation of Holu Hou Energy?

A. “A number of us were a part of a company called EnSync Energy Systems. In 2015, we formed a full-service energy development company called Holu Energy LLC as a majority subsidiary of EnSync. When EnSync went into receivership and was dissolved in 2019 it took Holu Energy with it, even though Holu was profitable. We then created Holu Hou, which means “new resilience.” Our capabilities are greater but our structure is leaner and nimbler. We had a vision to create a single-phase product that allowed us to do solar for low-income, AOAO and multi-family housing with third-party financing; and we are seeing that come to fruition. We have a contractual structure that allows a third party to own the solar but provide solar energy for low income housing. We have put together a solution where the investor doesn’t have to look at the viability of individual tenants. Approval is based on the viability of the development overall.”

Q. Are you born and raised in Hawaii?

A. “I have lived in Hawaii for about 30 years. I lived in 10 states before living in Hawaii because my Dad was in the Air Force. I wanted to serve so I joined the military after high school and went to the Naval Academy. I became a submarine officer and served on two subs but God made clear to me that it was time to move on.”

Q. What advice do you have for people wanting to launch a startup in Hawaii?

A. “It’s exciting to be your own boss and create opportunities for workers to feel valued and heard.  I feel satisfaction in making your workplace a real community - I did that at Booz Allen, the Energy Office, and Holu, and now at Holu Hou. There are many pieces of advice that I would give to people wanting to launch a startup in Hawaii:

·        You need to have an idea and a business plan that will be able to create more income than you are going to have to spend to generate that income. The reality is that there needs to be a margin between what you need to spend to do business and what income you can bring in.

·        You need the gumption and the appetite for the risk that will get you there, and a tremendous amount of patience.

·        You need to have persistence and grit to wade through the barriers and regulations.

·        Be prepared to invest. Myself and my partner had to pony up to make this business go. We’re all in to make this business happen.

·        Hire people whose ethos and values contribute to the culture in a positive way. Managing a team requires great leadership but I can also let the people we’ve hired drive what we do and how we do it because they are each entrepreneurs and people of good character.”

Q. Do you have a personal or professional motto?

A. “There is a quote by Winston Churchill that I really appreciate. “Success is not final; failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

Ted continued, “Failure is a far better teacher than success. Don’t fear failure. I’m a born again Christian, which drives my values, but I was also in the Navy, so I don’t have a lot of pretense about me. I like to laugh; even at myself.”

Q. What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned in your business experiences?

A. “Humility and courage are critical. Grit and the determination to not give up is critical to small business. I am not going to stop or let impediments keep me from reaching the goals we’ve set out. Difficulties are just delays or opportunities for success. It’s also important to make good risk decisions. It’s understanding that some hills aren’t worth climbing, which enables you to climb those that are worth it.”

Makai HR is proud to provide outsourced HR services to Holu Hou Energy. Said Makai HR President Valerie Wang, “Holu Hou Energy is committed to creating a sustainable future for Hawaii, offering A to Z services from consulting to system design, installation to construction management. They’re doing some incredible things in shaping our future, and we are proud to have them as clients."