Business

Hoku On Trickle, Zonda Misses The Bus

The Pocatello Hoku plant that was set to make photovoltaic cells is in its death throes as the NASDAQ stock exchange has forced the firm to delist its stock which most recently has been listed for less than a dime.

While it is sad to see any company go under, the GUARDIAN feels we don’t need companies in Idaho that depend on government “incentives.” If a company can’t make it on its own, it probably can’t make it.

The Chinese based firm had a bunch of subsidies, including Pocatello Urban Renewal help, Idaho Dept. of Labor job training grants, and lordonlyknows what else.

They couldn’t pay their electric bill, the CEO quit, bankruptcy is likely, and now local contractors are left unpaid along with Idaho Power. Not much of a boost to the local economy in the end.

The other questionable scheme we have been watching is the Zonda electric bus factory. That outfit doesn’t have anything in Idaho, but claims to have its USA headquarters in Boise. They have an Idaho phone number and not much else.

Like Hoku, Zonda gets a buzz going, local politicos endorse them as did Nampa Mayor Tom Dale when he was quoted saying, “They are the real deal.” They have promised 1,000 jobs and more than a year after declaring Boise as its USA headquarters, nothing of substance has happened.

Comments & Discussion

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  1. That’s ok. we still have the active industrial area being supplied by the rail spur.. and also the solar farm by the airport.

  2. chicago sam
    Jul 14, 2012, 5:04 pm

    With all the power that this plant was going to use guess we don’t need the wind and solar power plants now. Oh, I forgot those are all 20 year contracts with escalator clauses. At least we can depend on Dynamis to honor their agreements

  3. We gotta hire someone that knows what the he!! he’s doing to run this country. An most importantly, someone who wants to see America stand up again. Every time I see BHO I get a sense of a guy who is privately happy about the damage he is doing, and that of GWB before him. We’ve been 11 years now with an economically clueless or malicious leader.

    I don’t see the man for the job yet, but this article was a good read about the days gone by.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303740704577523541037952090.html?mod=WSJ_hp_mostpop_read#articleTabs%3Darticle

  4. Nothing sounds more like bankruptcy when you can’t afford $100 to renew your domain.

    http://www.hokuscientific.com

  5. Karen Ragland
    Jul 16, 2012, 1:26 pm

    This article just solidifies my belief that politicians are just borderline idiots aka bobble heads that have been cleaned up and sold to us. sigh

  6. Hello, this is Gene Fadness from the Idaho Public Utilities Commission. I just want to make sure it is understood that those 20-year contracts with all independent power providers are null and void if the agreed-upon energy isn’t delivered. They also contain liquidated damages provisions to protect ratepayers in the event of default.

  7. Hey G Fadness: Welcome,

    Questions: Why does IP keep asking for rate hikes and getting them. Does IPUC watch out for my welfare or that of the monopoly when reviewing the rate hike? Overall I’m very happy with IP, but THEY seem unhappy with the local rates. They bombard us with loads of junk mail pointing to all the screwed up places in this country with higher rates as a reason to raise ours. IP never points to the public infrastructure which makes our rates low.

    Also, now that so much of the wind power is generated by corporate owners are you going to change that silly rule which makes IP buy from wind at a super high rate?

    How about a new liquids pipeline into Boise to bring energy costs down? Is there some way you can regulated our local pipeline monopoly to push our prices into line with the average?

    I’m thinking maybe you can help with some of these basic things we all deal with every day if you have time to cut a sweet deal with long shot new technology company.

  8. chicago sam
    Jul 17, 2012, 6:50 am

    Gene–Thanks for your input–I am curious how the liquidated damages provisions work. In some of these cases transmission lines, substations etc have to be millions of dollors. Is Idaho Power guaranteed payback if equipment is not used. Seems unreasonable that the money would just be sitting somewhere just in case a company goes out of buisness.
    Insurance coverage?? My reference above to 20 year contracts was to focus on the current contracts given out at fixed rates. It is my opinion rates should be renegotiated every 5 years based on market conditions at that time

  9. Zippo,
    This is a limited space to try and answer some fairly broad questions but I will do my best.
    1) Idaho Power, like almost every other utility in the nation, files annual rate cases to recover expenes they’ve invested. I disagree with the premise of your question that it gets all it asks for. In fact, in the last two rate cases combined, the Commission denied more than 60 percent of the company’s request. We are required by state law to allow them recovery of prudently incurred expense and reasonable rate of return in exchange for their promise to serve every customer in their assigned territory regardless of cost.
    2) “That silly rule” you refer to is the federal Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA) which requires utilities to buy from qualifying small-power producers at avoided-cost rates set by state commissions. We are in the midst of a multi-year case to address avoided-cost issues. Technical hearings are Aug. 7-9 in Boise.
    3) Wholesale, intrastate pipelines are not regulated by the IPUC.

  10. Chicago Sam,
    Most of these projects require fairly simple modifications to transmission and distribution networks, sometimes just distribution. Substations are rarely required. The liquidated damage provisions cover the full cost of whatever expense ratepayers may incur.
    The length of contracts is one of the issues in our current avoided-cost rate docket.

  11. Thanks for the reply. I hope you look closely at the expenses they list. With a company that size it is very easy to shift things around as needed to make a case for whatever they need at the moment. IP does seem to be a fairly good outfit overall, but they are always whining for more money even as NG price is very low and lots of hydro around here.

  12. Dear Guardian, if you don’t support businesses that rely on government subsidy then you don’t support Idaho farmers or companies like Idaho Power who indirectly benefit from government largesse like the Bonneville Power Administration and the Department of Reclamation.

    EDITOR NOTE–You left out the BLM grazing, Mining, state water resources for irrigation just to name a few.

  13. Thanks, Zippo. We pay the same increases and hear from understandably frustrated customers every time rates do go up, so we have every reason to carefully review each expense and no reason not to.

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