Lights Out @ Hoku Solar’s Factory $HOKU 0

Hoku (Nasdaq:HOKU), in a case of questionable timing, is looking to open up a long-threatened $400 million polysilicon plant in Pocatello, Idaho.

That’s if it doesn’t get its electricity turned off by the power company first — or if the essentially Chinese company doesn’t have tariffs levied on its product when it ships polysilicon back to China.

Days after an announced grid interconnection with Hoku, Idaho Power, the utility supplying power to the Hoku polysilicon plant under construction in Pocatello, threatened to shut off power to the site if Hoku doesn’t pay its $1.9 million November electric bill, according to AP.

The problem in finding the $1.9 million to pay the electric bill is that, according to its most recent 10-K filing, Hoku “had cash and cash equivalents on hand of $3.2 million and current liabilities of $241.8 million” as of Sept. 30, 2011.

That doesn’t leave the firm with a lot of wiggle room in order to make payroll and pay the bills. The firm has approximately 200 employees according to its most recent annual report. Hoku has appealed to the utility, pointing to the potential damage to the factory and equipment from the elements if left unpowered.

Hoku is a subsidiary of Tianwei New Energy Holdings, which is an affiliate of China South Industries Group Corporation (CSGC). CSGC is a mammoth firm with 191,000 employees. Tianwei manufactures polysilicon, wafers, cells and modules.

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