Idaho Public Utilities Commission

Case No. IPC-E-11-28, Order No. 32431

January 5, 2012

Contact: Gene Fadness (208) 334-0339, 890-2712

Website: www.puc.idaho.gov

 

Oral argument is Jan. 11 on Hoku complaint

 

State regulators will hear oral arguments Wednesday on a Hoku Materials Inc. complaint over Idaho Power Company’s intent to terminate electric service to the new polysilicon manufacturing plant in Pocatello. 

 

Hoku was to have paid Idaho Power its $1.9 million electric bill by Dec. 21 or have service terminated on Jan. 3.  Hoku filed a complaint with the Idaho Public Utilities Commission asking the commission not to allow Idaho Power to terminate service and instead allow the payment to come out of a $4 million deposit Hoku has provided the utility.  Service cannot be terminated while the complaint is pending. 

 

Hoku acknowledges it has not paid its November bill because the plant is not yet “operational and producing revenue” and must draw on various reserves or loans to pay its operating costs.  Hoku claims that termination of service will prevent completion of the plant’s construction, possibly freeze sensitive electronic equipment and threaten 160 jobs. 

 

Idaho Power claims it has “gone out of its way to accommodate Hoku,” by modifying its original contract and delaying implementation, but Hoku “has failed to provide Idaho Power any assurance that such a payment will be forthcoming.” 

 

The loss of revenue from such a large customer poses “imminent financial harm,” to Idaho Power’s other customers, who may not receive their share of a tax benefit the commission just approved, Idaho Power claims. [1]  

 

To meet the revenue shortfall caused by Hoku’s failure to pay, Idaho Power claims it may have to use some of the accelerated investment tax credits that were to go to customers. 

 

The commission’s Rule L does not contain provisions for other customers using deposits to pay monthly charges, Idaho Power claims.  Further, Idaho Power states, Hoku owes another $1.8 million deposit that was due Dec. 31, but the utility agreed to extend to March 2 so long as Hoku remained current on its payments. Because it has not done so, the utility alleges, that the remaining $1.8 deposit is now due. 

 

Hoku will file a response to Idaho Power’s claims by Monday and the oral argument will begin at 2 p.m. Wednesday in the commission hearing room at 472 W. Washington St. in Boise. 

 

Documents regarding this case are available on the commission’s Web site at www.puc.idaho.gov. Click on the electric icon, then on “Open Electric Cases,” and scroll down to Case No. IPC-E-11-28. 

 

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[1] Link to press release about accelerated tax benefit to customers:

http://www.puc.idaho.gov/internet/press/122811_IPCoADITC.htm