MECO’s Suzuki’s job expands to include Big Island

HELCO’s chief retiring

SHARON SUZUKI, Big Island added to job

Maui Electric Co. President Sharon Suzuki’s area of responsibility has increased to include Hawaii Electric Light Co., parent company Hawaiian Electric Cos. announced Friday.

At the helm of MECO for seven years, Suzuki will take a new position as president of Maui County and Hawaii Island Utilities, a HECO news release said.

The leadership change was triggered by the retirement of Hawaii Electric Light President Jay Ignacio, who has led the utility since 2008.

Suzuki will be overseeing 157,000 customers on four islands — Hawaii island, Maui, Molokai and Lanai.

The new position is part of the Hawaiian Electric Cos.’ “One Company” transformation strategy, which combines the best practices of Hawaiian Electric on Oahu, Maui Electric and Hawaii Electric Light to reduce duplication, share resources and maximize efficiency to reduce costs, the news release said.

“Our commitment to these islands isn’t changing,” said Alan Oshima, president and CEO of HECO. “As anyone who has worked with Sharon knows, she is a tremendous advocate for customers and the communities on Maui, Molokai and Lanai.

“Our business is undergoing a fundamental transformation and so is our organizational chart. Like many other jobs in our company, the duties of the president are changing to meet new expectations, and this is an opportunity to reduce costs and look at new ways of working.”

Oshima touted MECO’s use of renewable energy — at nearly 40 percent of production — “so Sharon is the right person to continue that work and build on the clean energy leadership of Hawaii Electric Light.”

Suzuki has been with MECO for more than 25 years and has been president since 2012. She holds an MBA in finance from California State University at Fullerton and a Bachelor of Arts in economics and Japanese from the University of Michigan.

Active in the Maui community, Suzuki serves as treasurer on the board of the Maui Hotel and Lodging Association and vice chairwoman of the county Civil Service Commission. She is also on the boards of Maui Economic Development Board and Boy Scouts of America Maui County Council.

Suzuki succeeds Ignacio, who is retiring effective Feb. 2 after 28 years with Hawaii Electric Light. The Hilo native joined the utility as a substation design engineer and was promoted to superintendent of construction and maintenance in 1994 and later as manager of the transmission and distribution department.

He was named president in 2008 and in 2015 took on additional responsibilities as senior operations adviser to the president and CEO of Hawaiian Electric.

“I want to thank Jay for his tireless service to the people of Hawaii island and for his steady, decisive leadership of Hawaii Electric Light through some of the most challenging situations any of us can remember, including earthquakes, tropical storms and two volcanic eruptions,” Oshima said. “No matter how complex the issue, Jay always brought the question back to what was best for the customers.”