Our Story

From Plantations to Power

The first electric generating equipment in the Hawaiian kingdom was installed on the island of Maui. On the night of September 22, 1881, the first electric lights in the Islands dispelled the darkness in the mill owned by sugar baron Claus Spreckels. Maui's elite, curious to view the demonstration, arrived aboard a specially scheduled train, which ran from the newly built port of Kahului to Spreckels' Mill at Spreckelsville (located between the present Kahului airport and Paia).

The Saturday Press reported: "On the evening of the 22nd, the new electric light machine was tried in Mill No. 1 at Spreckelsville. Six lamps were in operation and worked to the satisfaction of all concerned."

That first demonstration of what Kahului gentlefolk called "concentrated daylight," which proved it was possible to process sugarcane throughout the night, occurred just two years after Thomas Edison perfected the electric incandescent light bulb, and four years before King Kalakaua arranged for electricity to light Iolani Palace. It would be another 10 years before Hawaiian Electric would bring electricity to the people of Oahu.