Thursday, July 31, 2014         

 Print   Email   Comment | View 0 Comments   Most Popular   Save   Post   Retweet

Hoku files complaint against Idaho Power

By Associated Press


POCATELLO, Idaho » Hoku Materials, a division of Honolulu-based Hoku Corp., has filed a complaint with the Idaho utility regulator accusing Idaho Power Co. of overcharging on its electric bills.

Hoku Materials included the allegation in its response filed Monday with the Public Utilities Commission, the latest development in the Hawaii company's squabble with the state's biggest utility.

Hoku officials say Idaho Power is charging them for more power than is actually being used at its polysilicon plant, part of which is under construction.

Hoku executives also say they have paid more than $11 million to Idaho Power since April 2011, even though the facility wasn't even connected to the grid until November and had paid $65,000 a day for power despite using less than $1,000 of power each day during commissioning activities.

"We believe that Hoku is being treated unfairly by Idaho Power, and we are asking the Idaho Public Utilities Commission to help us resolve this inequity," Scott Paul, CEO of Hoku Corp., told the Idaho State Journal in a story published Tuesday.

The company has asked the state regulator to help resolve the dispute and amend its contract with the utility.

The commission is expected to hear oral arguments in the case today.

Idaho Power has threatened to shut off electricity at the plant because Hoku missed a $1.9 million payment in November. The company said it has told Idaho Power that it can't pay its November power bill until January due to financial problems.

Idaho Power officials say it's unfair to treat one customer different from all the rest who pay bills on time.

"We're not in the business of turning off power to our customers, and we don't relish doing that," said Stephanie McCurdy, spokeswoman for Idaho Power. "But Hoku hasn't paid their bills and lived up to their contractual obligation, and there are consequences to that."

Hoku officials are asking the PUC for relief by eliminating their minimum monthly payments and charging only for the amount of power that is actually being used, reducing their deposit and refunding some of the money that they've paid to Idaho Power. Hoku also wants the PUC to keep Idaho Power from turning off the facility's electricity until an agreement is reached.

Southeastern Idaho hopes that Hoku's $390 million plant will eventually add hundreds of green-energy jobs to the local economy. Idaho Power signed a contract with Hoku to provide power at a cheap rate in 2009, which was a big reason the company picked Pocatello for its new solar panel plant.

But when the economy declined, polysilicon production went into surplus and prices dropped significantly, creating economic hardship for the company.

 Print   Email   Comment | View 0 Comments   Most Popular   Save   Post   Retweet

You must be subscribed to participate in discussions
By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. Because only subscribers are allowed to comment, we have your personal information and are able to contact you. If your comments are inappropriate, you may receive a warning, and if you persist with such comments you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, email commentfeedback@staradvertiser.com.
Leave a comment

Please login to leave a comment.
Latest News/Updates
The Green Leaf
Marine debris art

Political Radar
`Toss up’

Political Radar

Political Radar
Hilton; Plaza Club

Political Radar
Direct mail