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Hoku Corp. wins partial victory in Idaho dispute

Honolulu-based Hoku Corp. won a partial victory in its quest to reduce the high electric bills threatening the viability of a polysilicon plant Hoku is building in Pocatello.

The Idaho Public Utilities Commission on Friday denied Idaho Power’s request to collect an additional $1.8 million deposit from Hoku, and ordered Idaho Power to renegotiate its contract with Hoku for future electric bills.

Idaho’s largest electric utility had threatened to cut off power to Hoku’s $390 million polysilicon plant because the clean-energy company was behind on its electricity payments. Idaho Power said Hoku’s arrearage included an unpaid November electric bill for $1.9 million due on Dec. 21, and the $1.8 million deposit due on Dec. 31.

The cash-strapped Hoku paid the November electric bill on Friday after receiving approval to borrow up to $10 million from a Chinese bank. Hoku got additional relief when the Idaho PUC ruled that it did not have to pay the deposit, which was in addition to a $4 million deposit Hoku already paid to Idaho Power.

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