College students explore clean energy career opportunities through KS, Clearway program

Aug. 17, 2021

Contributed by Communication Group Staff

A year after the pandemic led to the cancellation of a summer internship focused on renewable energy, four college students recently completed the program that gives Native Hawaiians access to real-world job experience.

The opportunity is part of a partnership between Kamehameha Schools and Clearway, a clean energy company that develops community solar and wind projects.

“The whole mālama ʻāina idea has always been really important to me,” said Halaki Gionet KSK’18, a finance major at the University of Northern Colorado. “I care about the environment and I care about people, so I want to do something that benefits them.”

At the end of the six-week paid internship last month, participants presented their research projects during a hōʻike at the Community Learning Center in Māʻili.

“It has been a great experience. I met a lot of different people and experienced a lot of different things,” said Kaysie Ho KSK’18, who is majoring in electrical engineering at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. “I want to finish my degree, get into this field, and hopefully help escalate and promote the renewable energy process.”

The cohort learned about a variety of job functions by working at Clearway offices as well as construction and operational sites.

“The interns had boots-on-the-ground experience this year primarily supporting our construction and operations and maintenance teams across five Clearway solar sites on Oʻahu,” explained Rachel Coffin, senior asset manager for Clearway. “Additionally, the interns engaged with other Clearway personnel via remote presentations covering a vast array of topics such as project development, engineering, financing, data analytics and reporting, solar technology and procurement, scheduling, land management, regulatory compliance, and asset management.”  

Two of Clearway’s projects are on ʻĀina Pauahi; Kawailoa Solar went online in 2019, and construction at the Waiawa site is underway with the plant expected to reach commercial operations by December 2022.

The internship program, which launched two years ago, was established as a result of the Kawailoa project.

“Kamehameha Schools stewards its lands in a way that promotes sustainability and reduces Hawaiʻi’s reliance on fossil fuels, while also connecting haumāna to ʻāina-based learning through collaborations such as our partnership with Clearway,” said Robert Medeiros, senior project manager for Kamehameha Schools’ Community Strategies Division. “The interns are able to gain valuable skills and build their professional networks as they explore career pathways in the exciting field of renewable energy.”

Four interns who participated in the summer program created by Kamehameha Schools and Clearway gave presentations at the Community Learning Center in Māʻili. From (L) to (R): Kealohi Sabate KSK’15, Kaysie Ho KSK’18, Halaki Gionet KSK’18, Jarrett Oni Kahookele, Jr.