SEPA Honors David Bissell as Utility CEO of the Year | SEPA Skip to content

SEPA Honors David Bissell as Utility CEO of the Year

The Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA), an educational non-profit focused on helping utilities integrate solar electric power into their energy portfolios, today announced that David Bissell, CEO of Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC), has been named Utility CEO of the Year in SEPA’s 2013 Utility Awards Program.

“David has taken a creative approach to bringing utility-scale solar to the island of Kaua‘i and developing projects that not only promote greater reliance on renewable resources, but are a laboratory for innovation in engineering and utility finance,” said Julia Hamm, SEPA President and CEO. “We are proud to honor David for his long-term vision, and his accomplishments in driving down costs and bringing the benefits of solar to all residents of Kaua‘i.”

Since 2005, SEPA’s awards program has recognized advances in utility solar. Last year, SEPA honored CPS Energy’s Doyle Beneby as Utility CEO of the Year.

“Our success with solar energy is built on teamwork, internally with our talented staff and externally with our supportive community partners,” Bissell said. “Pursuing utility-scale solar that benefits all of our customers is a key strategy to reach our ambitious renewable energy goals.”

Bissell earned the 2013 Utility CEO of the Year honor as a result of his leadership in developing creative financing plans aimed at bringing the cost of utility-scale solar from $200 per MWh in 2011 to close to $100 per MWh for two 12 MW projects now in development. On one of the projects, despite assumptions that KIUC would be unable to take advantage of tax credits due to its non-profit status, Bissell found that by creating a taxable subsidiary, KIUC could qualify for Section 1603 tax grants included in the 2009 federal stimulus package. On a second project, tax-equity financing was used after the stimulus expired.

In November, KIUC will break ground on one of those projects, a $40 million, 12 MW solar array that will meet 5 percent of Kauai’s energy needs and replace 1.7 million gallons of oil annually. The second 12 MW project is in the planning stages. Both projects will use large battery energy storage systems. The cooperative aims to generate at least 50 percent of Kaua‘i’s electricity with renewable resources by 2023, with solar contributing about 16 percent of the total.

Bissell will be presented with his award on Tuesday, October 22, during the SEPA Annual Membership and Utility Awards Luncheon, which will take place from 12:30 to 2 p.m. at McCormick Place in Chicago. The event is open to all SEPA members. Following the luncheon, Bissell will be a participant in a panel discussion with representatives from other award-winning companies, discussing current and future issues in utilities and solar growth.

About KIUC

KIUC is a member-owned cooperative serving 30,000 customers on the island of Kaua‘i. Governed by a nine-member, elected board of directors, KIUC is one of 930 electric co-ops serving more than 36 million members in 47 states.

About SEPA

SEPA is an educational non-profit organization based in Washington dedicated to helping utilities integrate solar power into their energy portfolios. The SEPA Top 10 Utility Solar Rankings report is one of many market intelligence, utility interaction and educational services SEPA provides to its utility and solar industry members. For more information about SEPA, visit our website at