Our Story

History and Timeline

The Hawaiian Electric Company and its subsidiaries provide electricity and services to 95 percent of the state's 1.4 million residents. The company is also one of the state's leading employers and a major contributor and supporter of community and educational programs.

The demand for power that has fueled the growth of the Hawaiian Islands has been met by Hawaiian Electric for well over a century. And as the next millennium unfolds, the company is committed to providing quality service and seeking clean local energy sources to power generations of Hawaii families and businesses to come.

Honoring the Past. Transforming the Future.

Serving Hawaii for 125 years

Exciting times are on the horizon as we celebrate our 125th anniversary. We're working to achieve the ambitious goal of a 100 percent renewable energy future for Hawaii. To do this, we're transforming the way we do business and the way we provide service to our customers. But our company is no stranger to change. As we look to our past, we're reminded about the obstacles we've overcome and the milestones we've reached. We're not going through our first transformation – and it won't be our last. But together, we'll make changes that will make positive impacts on our customers of today and future generations.

Our history is filled with wonderful success stories. Our future will be filled with so many more.

Hawaiian Electric's 125th Anniversary Timeline

1881: The Birth of Hawaiian Electric

  • King Kalakaua meets Thomas Edison at his home in New York to see the incandescent light bulb in 1881.
  • Iolani Palace becomes one of the world's first royal residences to be lit by electricity in 1886.
  • Honolulu streets are lit by electricity for the first time in 1888.
  • Hawaiian Electric Company, Ltd. is incorporated on Oct. 13, 1891.

1894: Electrifying Oahu

  • Alakea Power Plant is dedicated and placed into service in 1894.
  • Ice and cold storage are added to our services in 1901.
  • Hawaiian Electric establishes service to the windward side of Oahu by stringing an 11,000 volt line over the Pali to service a wireless telegraph company at Heeia in 1914.
  • The legislature grants Hawaiian Electric the right to supply power to the entire island in 1915.
  • Hawaiian Electric's King Street building opened for business on July 25, 1927.
  • Hawaiian Electric begins construction on a new 11 kV line (with provision to change to 44 kV in five years) spanning seven miles through Kalihi Valley, over the Koolau range and down the Windward slope to the Koolau switching station in 1933.

1937: The War Years

  • Groundbreaking at Waiau Power Plant in 1937.
  • The first unit at the Waiau Generating Station goes online in 1938.
  • Hawaiian Electric celebrates its 50th anniversary in 1941.
  • As Japanese war planes strafe the Waiau Power Plant at Pearl Harbor with machine gun fire, 13 workers stay at their posts to safely shut down the plant in 1941. The plant's log book records, "The plant is under attack - secured everything." Later, power plants are painted in camouflage and reinforced with steel and concrete.
  • The Ward Avenue operations building is constructed in 1947.
  • Ice and cold storage services are discontinued in 1948.

1954: Growth Continues

  • The Leslie A. Hicks Power Plant in downtown Honolulu becomes operational in 1954. A clean energy milestone reached as Hawaiian Electric deactivates the Honolulu Power Plant in January 2014.
  • Honolulu Electrical Products. Co., Ltd. (HEPCO) becomes a wholly-owned merchandising subsidiary of Hawaiian Electric and opens headquarters on Pi'ikoi Street in 1957. HEPCO is later sold in 1962.
  • The first 138 kV lines are strung from Waiau over the Koolau range. The Pali tunnels and a new highway open Windward Oahu to development in 1958.
  • Hawaii achieves statehood in 1959. A surge in demand for electricity follows as the arrival of passenger jet services (and the opening of Ala Moana Center) brings tourists to the islands.
  • The first unit at Kahe Power Plant goes online in 1963.
  • Hawaiian Electric stock is publicly traded for the first time in 1964.
  • Hawaiian Electric acquires Maui Electric Company on Nov. 1, 1968.
  • Hawaiian Electric acquires Hawaii Electric Light Company on Feb. 1, 1970.
  • Keahole Generating Station and the Airport Substation begin operation on Hawaii Island in 1973.
  • Hawaiian Electric is awarded a $2 million grant for a Department of Energy/NASA test wind turbine in Kahuku in 1978.
  • Hawaiian Electric signs a contract with Windfarms, Ltd. for development of a 80 kV wind energy system in 1980.

1983: Diversification

  • Hawaiian Electric Industries is formed to diversify the company's business base. Hawaiian Electric becomes a subsidiary of Hawaiian Electric Industries in 1983.
  • HEI Charitable Foundation is founded in 1984.
  • Hawaiian Electric Renewable Systems (HERS), an HEI subsidiary, builds the Makani Moae windfarm in Kahuku in 1985.
  • Hawaiian Electric makes a historic decision to purchase power from independent energy suppliers, 1987.
  • Maui Electric acquires Lanai City power plant in 1988.
  • Hawaii Electric Light purchases the Puna Biomass Generating Plant in 1988.
  • Signed contract with Kalaeloa Partners to build and operate a 180-megawatt combined cycle plant at Campbell Industrial Park, 1988.
  • Hawaiian Electric contracts for the first time with three independent power producers in 1989: The Honolulu Program of Waste Energy Recovery (H-Power), Kalaeloa Partners L.P., and Applied Energy Services, Barbers Point, Inc. (AES).
  • Maui Electric acquires Molokai Electric Company in 1989.
  • Hawaiian Electric celebrates 100 years of service to Hawaii in 1991.
  • The first 69 kV transmission lines to carry geothermal power to the Hawaii Electric Light grid are completed in 1991.
  • Puna Geothermal Venture begins providing power to Hawaii Electric Light in 1993.

1995: Changing to Meet Customers' Needs through Energy Solutions

  • Hawaiian Electric wins the Edison Award in 1995 - the electric utility industry's highest honor - for promotion of energy-efficient heat pump electrotechnology in Hawaii.
  • The Electric Kitchen, which was filmed in the King Street Auditorium, starts airing as a televised cooking show in 1995.
  • U.S. Department of Defense - Hawaiian Electric Clean Energy Partnership signed in 1996 to meet DOD's energy needs.
  • Hawaiian Electric begins offering energy efficiency "Energy$olutions" rebate programs, including the nation's largest residential solar water heating program in 1996.
  • Hawaiian Electric inaugurates free electric bus shuttle service offering rides to downtowners under a six-month pilot program by the City and County of Honolulu in 1996.
  • Hawaiian Electric helps install the state's first electric vehicle "rapid charging station" in 1998.
  • Hawaiian Electric received the U.S. Department of Labor's EVE Award for diversity and for outstanding volunteerism and support, 1999.
  • Hawaiian Electric unveils its new e-bill service allowing customers to view and pay their electric bills via the internet in 1999.

2000: Powering our Communities

  • Hawaiian Electric is recognized as Corporate Partner of the Year by Bishop Museum and is presented with the Ulupono award, 2000.
  • The Hawaii Audubon Society presented Hawaiian Electric with the Corporate Education Award, 2000.
  • Hawaiian Electric is presented with the Good Neighbor Award from the American Red Cross, 2000.
  • Hawaiian Electric is named Aloha United Way's Corporation of the Year, 2001.
  • Hawaii's Renewable Portfolio Standard is enacted into law (Act 272) in 2001 setting renewable energy targets of 7 percent by 2003, 8 percent by 2005 and 9 percent by the end of 2010. Net Energy Metering program for rooftop solar customers is established.
  • American Lung Association awards Hawaiian Electric with the Mauli Ola (Breath of Life) award for environmentally responsible operation of our power plants in 2003.
  • Hawaiian Electric is recognized as the 2004 business leader for "Commitment to the Community" by Pacific Business News.
  • Hawaiian Electric completes a 13-mile underground fuel pipeline from Campbell Industrial Park to Waiau Power Plant in 2004.
  • 6,000 residential customers enrolled for the Energy Scout load-control program in 2005.
  • The last The Electric Kitchen television show airs on Aug. 28, 2005. A recurring The Electric Kitchen newspaper feature continues.

2006: Building Energy through Partnerships

  • Hawaiian Electric completes installation of Hawaii's longest 46-kv underground and undersea sub-transmission cables beneath the ocean floor from Ford Island to the shores of Pearl Harbor in 2006.
  • In 2006, Hawaiian Electric celebrated the 10th year anniversary of the Energy$olutions program with the installation of its 30,000th solar water heating system. The program paid over $62 million in rebates to homes and businesses that have installed energy efficient equipment which translates to a savings of more than 586 million kilowatthours per year or 970,000 barrels of oil.
  • In 2008, the Hawaiian Electric Companies and the state of Hawaii sign a comprehensive agreement as part of the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative that creates a goal for the state to meet 70 percent of its electricity and ground transportation needs from clean energy sources by 2030.
  • Eighty two of Hawaii Electric Light's diesel fleet vehicles complete the switch from straight diesel to a more environmentally-friendly biodiesel mix in 2008.
  • Hawaiian Electric's 110-MW Campbell Industrial Park Generating Station, fueled by renewable biodiesel, goes online in 2009.
  • Hawaiian Electric's Energy$olutions energy efficiency programs are transferred to the Public Utilities Commission's third-party administrator in 2009. During the 13 years they were administered by the Hawaiian Electric Companies, the programs:
    • Installed more than 1.8 million CFLs, more than 50,000 solar water heating systems, and more than 39,000 Energy Star appliances;
    • Reduced electricity demand by 169-MW, equal to the output of a large power plant;
    • Paid $97 million in rebate and other incentives and saved customers more than $640 million over the life of their energy efficiency equipment;
    • Avoided burning an average 1.6 million barrels of oil a year;
    • Reduced emissions of carbon dioxide (a major cause of global climate change) by 864,000 tons a year.
  • The PUC approves a new regulatory model - decoupling - which removes the link between utility revenues and electricity usage and encourages energy efficiency and renewable energy use in 2010.
  • PUC approves a Feed-In Tariff, offering standard rates and contract terms for renewable energy developers in 2010..

2011: Our Clean Energy Future

  • Hawaiian Electric begins buying power from First Wind's 30-MW wind farm, Kahuku Wind in 2011.
  • Hawaiian Electric begins buying power from First Wind's 69-MW Kawailoa wind farm on the North Shore of Oahu in 2012.
  • Hawaiian Electric and Maui Electric Company are honored for Solar Energy Adoption by the Solar Electric Power Association in 2012.
  • In 2012, critical investments to upgrade and modernize electrical systems include replacing 210,000 feet of underground power cable on Oahu (up from 97,000 in 2011), 1300 utility poles (1000 in 2011) and 24 transmission structures (one in 2011).
  • Compared to 2008, when we first set our new clean energy targets, we have eliminated the annual use of 500,000 barrels of oil in our system, the equivalent of $69 million in 2012.
  • In 2012, Going Solar, online solar resource center, was launched to provide customers information on choosing a contractor, financing, siting, and sizing photovoltaic and more.
  • Also in 2012, added a photovoltaic system at our 120 megawatt biofueled generation station at Campbell Industrial Park to help power the facility and run two electric vehicle chargers.
  • Hawaiian Electric introduces a new logo, reflecting its deep roots in Hawaii and signaling a renewed commitment to customers in 2013.
  • Hawaiian Electric develops comprehensive clean energy transformation plans in 2014, which include goals of increasing renewables to 65 percent, tripling distributed solar, and lowering customer bills 20 percent by 2030.
  • Hawaiian Electric deactivates Honolulu Power Plant on Jan. 31, 2014.
  • Hawaiian Electric installs smart meters at 5,000 Oahu homes as an initial phase for its planned smart grid project in 2014.
  • Hawaiian Electric pledges support of the state's new goal of 100 percent renewable energy by 2045, the most aggressive clean energy goal in the country in 2015.
  • Hawaiian Electric opens the first utility-owned and operated DC Fast Charger for electric vehicles on Oahu at Dole Plantation in 2015.
  • Hawaiian Electric and the Navy propose plans for a new 20-MW solar facility at the Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, West Loch Annex in 2016.
  • Hawaiian Electric breaks ground on a new biofuel-capable generating station at Schofield Barracks, strategically located away from the shoreline in 2016.