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Sale of Hoku plant delayed indefinitely

The sale of the former Hoku Materials plant property has been stopped in its tracks.

On Wednesday, the Pocatello Development Authority rescinded their agreement with Solargise America, the company based out of the United Kingdom that planned to buy the land for $1.2 million.

PDA board members said Solargise did not live up to the terms of the agreement because they refused to pay the $400,000 in delinquent taxes on the buildings and requested several extensions to close on the deal.

The buildings are currently owned by VA Metals, but the land is owned by the PDA. If VA Metals or Solargise does not pay at least $111,000 in back taxes from 2015 by Tuesday, the buildings could be seized and sold at a sheriff’s auction.

The Hoku plant is meant to produce commercial polysilicon, but was abandoned in 2012. Solargise, the only company to draft a proposal for the property, hopes to employ 450 people at the plant and produce polysilicon for solar panels and semiconductors.

But if the plant goes to auction, that may not happen.

Solargise owner Raj Basu told the Idaho State Journal that his company recently agreed to pay VA Metals’ 2015 delinquent taxes, but said the rest should be their responsibility.

Basu’s company already bought the plant machinery and equipment from VA Metals in 2018. Solargise could not buy the buildings because former VA Metals employees are suing the company over the title to the buildings, according to the ISJ.

The parties involved in the lawsuit are expected to meet in London on Friday to attempt to work things out.

If the plant goes up for auction yet again, anyone can put in an offer before the deadline in 14 months.

“They would have to compete with everyone else, but at that time, all taxes due would have to be paid,” said Bannock County Commissioner Steve Brown. “So, it wouldn’t just be the $110,000, $115,000 that’s currently due for 2015. It would be over $400,000.

“But, it would actually be a lot more than that because you now have 2019 coming up, and you also have fees and interest,” Brown said.”

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