Electrifying Hawaii Island
The thirties had seen tremendous growth and for the utility. Company engineers were contracted to design and oversee construction of new on-site power plants and motors for several large industrial businesses: Hawaiian Cane Products, Ltd. Plant in Hilo, and the sugar mills on the east side of the island at Honokaa, Onomea, Olaa and two at Kau.
By an act of the U.S. Congress, power distribution franchises previously granted to mills at Hamakua and Olaa, were turned over to Hilo Electric. In many cases, the entire distribution system of the plantations had to be completely scrapped. Poles were of poor quality and when inspected were found to be badly decayed and of practically no value. The company had to build nearly 150 substations.
In Kona, a large trading company that was heavily into the production of coffee supplied some of the finances to start Kona Light and Power Company. The year was 1932.
In Kohala, enterprising men dug a ditch to irrigate the sugar cane files, and the success of sugar led to sugar companies generating electricity for their purposes and for the needs of the people who worked for their companies.
And so in 1934, the Kohala Ditch Company took over the distribution and sale of electricity in North Kohala from the Kohala sugar companies.