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Seeing the Light

Go small, but on a large scale.

February 21, 2013
The Maui Weekly

Treehugger.com recently named Quayle Hodek, a pioneer in the field of renewable energy, as one of the hottest eco-CEOs who have paved the way and helped kick-start global change to protect and ensure a sustainable future for us all.

Hodek founded Zoom Culture, an early YouTube that turned out to be too early to make it.

Hodek's next company, Renewable Choice Energy, was based on the belief that "given the choice, people would pay more for clean renewable energy."

Article Photos

From the Editor's Desk
Debra Lordan
Editor/General Manager

But the timing couldn't have been worse for the startup, which was to go into operation at the end of 2001. After the devastating events on Sept. 11, the U.S. was more engaged in other concerns, such as terrorism.

Despite the difficulty of starting a renewable energy business at that time, through vision and perseverance, Hodek built his Renewable Choice into one of the most respected renewable energy, efficiency and sustainability companies in the U.S.

As the CEO of Renewable Choice Energy, Quayle is on a mission to convince companies that switching to renewable energy is the right thing to do--for the planet and the bottom line.

Leading organizations of all sizes, including 50 of the Fortune 500, utilize Quayle's expertise in developing clean energy, efficiency and carbon reduction projects and implementing sustainability programs.

But despite what we all would consider an important and successful career, Hodek realized--as he turned on a light in his own home one evening--that even he had no emotional connection and little appreciation for the impact of photovoltaic technology, even though he is one of its most accomplished advocates. The light simply turned on, just like it always has.

"Am I doing enough," he thought. "Am I really helping anyone?"

As an Unreasonable Institute mentor, he made the acquaintance of fellow mentor Juan Fermn Rodrguez, whose two-year-old venture, QUETSOL in Guatemala, seeks to bring light to millions and eradicate the lack of access to electricity through sustainable technologies.

QUETSOL offers appropriate technology solutions that sustainably provide for the energy demands of a wide variety of users at a lower ecologic, social and economic cost.

The company provides customers the necessary tools to become energetically independent, thus increasing their productivity and development. QUETSOL's primary focus is developing micro-scale energy solutions--such as portable, 16-Watt PV light systems--for families and communities who have always lacked even the most basic electrical service.

When we think of technology, we usually think of computers and devices that put the world at our fingertips. But the most basic definition of technology is the use of even the simplest tool to achieve a means to an end. While the Internet and computers are extremely empowering devices, some communities lack even the most basic technology, such as electricity, to power these more advanced tools.

"In Guatemala, around 20 percent of the population (2.6 million people) suffer from this problem," said Hodek. "In the world, there are around 1.5 billion without a decent light in their homes."

Due to the location and difficulty to reach these communities, it is most probable that the private utility companies will never reach these families. Even if it was provided, the cost to the customer would be prohibitive.

"Having no electricity is like denying a basic human right," Hodek continued.

Being marginalized from the grid has dire consequences, he said. Illiteracy correlates to the grid's absence of coverage; extreme poverty exists due to lack of productivity tools; risk of respiratory diseases for children increases; and general stagnation of society continues. All of them result in low levels of human development.

QUETSOL's pricing (about $200 per 16-Watt unit) allows customers to procure lighting and other electrical services such as cell phone charging at a lower cost than the alternatives, including candles, kerosene and the grid itself.

Just as important, QUETSOL has partnerships with various financial institutions that are able to provide financing for any of our products.

The company was built on the basis of a profound understanding of its customers, taking in consideration their needs, limits and desires.

So far, QUETSOL has illuminated over 2,200 homes, benefiting around 10,000 people. After signing the strategic alliance with the largest bank in Guatemala for the micro-financing of its products, the company plans to install 20,000 systems by the end of 2014--around 90,000 people brought to light.

And if Hodek had any doubts about the impact of PV, his friend surely helped him see the light.

 
 

 

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