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Hawaii Electric Light History
The demand for power that has fueled the growth of the Hawaiian Islands has been met by us for well over a century. And as the next millennium unfolds, we are committed to providing quality service and seeking clean local energy sources to power generations of Hawaii families and businesses to come.
1890: The Beginning of Hawaii Electric Light
- Hilo boarding school installs its own on-site electric plant in 1890.
- Hilo Electric Light Company formed in 1894.
- Puueo Plant constructed on the Wailuku River in 1901.
1930: Electrifying Hawaii Island
- Hamakua and Olaa sugar mills turned over to Hilo Electric in 1930.
- Kona Light and Power Company established in 1932.
- The Kohala Ditch Company took over the distribution and sale of electricity in North Kohala in 1934
1940: More Power to the Big Island
- Hilo Electric serves more than one quarter of the island.
- At the height of World War II, the Marines urgently needing electricity at its camp in Kamuela installed generators.
- Hilo Electric bought Kohala Ditch Company's distribution system and was granted the franchise to serve all of Kohala in 1953.
- Kona Light & Power merges with Hilo Electric in 1953.
- By 1956, Hilo Electric had purchased or merged with smaller companies and by 1963 Hilo Electric had received the franchise for the whole island.
- Ground was broken at Kanoelehua for a new power plant, 1961.
- The W.H. Hill plant was put into service in 1965.
1970: Hawaii Electric Light Company is Formed
- In 1970 Hilo Electric was bought by Hawaiian Electric Company.
- In 1975 Hilo Electric changed its name to Hawaii Electric Light Company.
- The 51-mile transmission line between Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa was completed in 1988.
- The 16-mw turbine at Keahole Power Plant came online in 1989.
- The first 69-kilovolt transmission lines to carry the geothermal power to Hawaii Electric Light was completed in 1991.
- Hawaii Electric Light installs a 15-kw grid connected photovoltaic system on the rooftop of county gymnasium in 1995.
- Hawaii Electric signs a PPA with Encogen Hawaii now known as Hamakua Energy Partners in 1999 and also signs a PPA with Kahua Power Partners to build a 10-megawatt wind farm at Kahua Ranch.
2000: Powering Our Communities
- The State of Hawaii passes the Net Energy Metering (NEM) law in 2001.
- Hawaii Electric Light receives PUC approval to purchase power from a new 10.6-megawatt planned wind farm in Hawi, 2004.
2005: Building Energy Partnerships
- In 2005, Hawaii Electric Light restores and restarted the Puueo hydroelectric facility on the Wailuku River originally built in 1910.
- In 2007, the Pakini Nui wind farm was re-powered increasing output from seven to 20.5 megawatts.
- Sopogy and Keahole Solar Power Development inaugurated the world's first MicroCSP (Micro-Concentrating solar power) solar thermal farm at Nelha in 2009.
- Hawaii Electric Light's Pelton hydro generator, the first large hydro-powered generator installed on Hawaii Island, celebrates 100 years for producing renewable energy for the island.
- The PUC approved a contract for an additional eight megawatts of power from Puna Geothermal Venture in 2011.
- In 2016, 54 percent of the electricity used by Hawaii Electric Light customers came from came from renewable resources.
- Hawaii Electric Light was chosen for Heavy Duty Trucking magazine's Top 50 Green Fleets for 2016. The award recognizes companies for leading their industry in the adoption of green, sustainable practices, policies and technologies.
- Hawaii Electric Light again ranked seventh on SEPA’s annual list in 2018, connecting 95.2 watts per customer. We were also named SEPA Power Players Investor-Owned Utilities of the Year, along with Hawaiian Electric and Maui Electric, for our grid modernization efforts.
During 2019, Hawaii Electric light celebrated 125 years of providing electric service to Hawaii Island from a diverse mix of resources including hydro, solar, wind and biofuels.