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Lanai Resorts hires expert to oversee renewable energy efforts

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Larry Ellison’s Lanai Resorts LLC has hired a California energy expert to oversee renewable energy and ocean water desalination efforts on the island.

Byron Washom, director of Strategic Energy Initiatives at the University of California San Diego, will “lead a new initiative to transform the Hawaiian island of Lanai into a model for sustainable energy.” according to a news release from Lanai Resorts and UC San Diego.

Ellison, the billionaire cofounder and CEO of Oracle Corp., acquired 97 percent of Lanai from Castle & Cooke Inc. last June.

Lanai is home to a 1.5-megawatt solar photovoltaic facility that provides about 10 percent of the island’s power needs. Washom will oversee the development of a  “microgrid” that will help the islands electric utility make full use of all renewable energy produced on Lanai, according to the release.

Washom also will help develop a desalination plant that will augment the island’s supply of fresh water.

UC San Diego has granted Washom a 40 percent reduction in his workload for nine months to work on the Lanai project. Although is time at the university will  be reduced Washom will continue to oversee the entire portfolio of research activities on the microgrid at UC San Diego, which generates more than 90 percent of the campus’ electricity.

“This is a terrific opportunity for Byron to share his expertise and experience to make his home state of Hawaii more sustainable,” said Gary Matthews, UC San Diego’s vice chancellor of Resource Management and Planning. “The work he has done here building up the UC San Diego microgrid will translate directly to what he will be doing in Lanai.”

The renewable energy and desalination initiatives are part of Lanai Resorts’ and the Lana’i community’s comprehensive approach to managing and conserving energy, water and land resources and help to ensure a sustainable future for its residents, according to the release.

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