Honoring Hawai‘i’s culture and history through our grid

Hawaiian Electric
3 min readMay 21, 2024


by Robert Yang | May 21, 2024

Does your workplace offer cultural education classes? Hawaiian Electric provides opportunities for employees to learn more about Hawaiian culture, history and language. I attended a “Beginner’s Hawaiian” learning session and learned that some of our newer Oʻahu substations were given Hawaiian names. Previously I had thought that our substations were named after the street or division they’re located in and after carefully examining a list of our substations, that wasn’t always the case.

It turns out that Jacob “Jake” Fernandez, a retired senior supervisor in Switching Coordination on Oʻahu, spent time to carefully research and craft a name that was befitting of our substations. Our company was familiar with Jake’s Hawaiian ancestry and his passion for the culture and language, and in 2016, we asked him if he would be willing to start naming new substations.

So how did Jake pick a name for our substations?

“I narrow my focus to traditional Hawaiʻi, before we made western contact,” Jake had once explained.

His naming process started with researching the following:

  • What was the historical use of the area?
  • Are there any moʻolelo or stories, myths or legends affiliated with the area?
  • What was the traditional Hawaiian name for the area?

When Jake was tasked to name a new substation that may be built in the future to serve Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, his initial research of the area led him to discover numerous loʻi or taro patches along the shoreline of Kaihuopalaʻai (West Loch) back in 1912. He also discovered numerous loko iʻa or fishponds, which moʻolelo states that the gods, Kāne and Kanaloa, constructed and it became the greatest food resource for ʻEwa Moku. After countless hours of research, the following names evolved:

  • Awawalei (Lei of Harbors)
  • Waimomi (Pearl Water)
  • Ke Alahula o Kaʻahupahau (The Paths Frequented by Kaʻahupahau, the Shark Goddess)
  • Ke Awa Lau o Puʻuloa or simply Puʻuloa (The Many Harbors of Long Hill, Puʻuloa is what Hawaiians historically called the area that is known as Pearl Harbor today)
Photo by Kamehameha Schools

Jake ultimately decided on Waimomi as the most suitable name for the substation serving Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. Other examples of Jake’s legacy work include Auiki substation in Kalihi, named after small currents due to the amount of fishponds located in the area and Pōhākea substation near Kunia, named after an old pathway that connects Kunia and Nānākuli, which the route’s base is where the station is constructed at.

Jake started his career in 1985 and retired in 2023. Our company plans to work with the Hawaiian Studies department at The University of Hawaiʻi to continue the naming tradition. “We want those students to do the research, find a name and be a part of the whole process here at Hawaiian Electric. We want the Hawaiian community to be acknowledged and have representation in our company,” Jake emphasized before his retirement.

We’re thankful for the work that Jake has done over the years and hope we can continue the tradition of naming new substations with Hawaiian names to honor Hawaiʻi’s culture.

Robert Yang is a digital communications and social media specialist at Hawaiian Electric Company.



Hawaiian Electric

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