Another green energy boondoggle.
A Treasure Valley company is out millions of dollars after a huge Chinese-government affiliated project went belly up in eastern Idaho.
The project received a $2.2 million federal grant and incentives from Idaho and the city of Pocatello.
The contracts from a company called Hoku seemed great to local subcontractors. Millions of dollars of work at a Pocatello plant that was put to make polysilicon, which is used to make solar products. The project was valued around $700 million.
Big project, big contracts, big promises
Lea Electric, a Meridian company, found out about the project and approached North Carolina general contractor Industrial Piping, Inc. (IPI) about getting involved for electrical work. IPI won the contract, and Lea Electric and a number of other Idaho companies signed on. Lea initially got a $1.5 million contract.
“It was a great deal. It was great work, and the Chinese really liked what we were doing,” Lea Electric President Dave Lemarque said. “They kept giving us more work and more work, and before you know it, a $1.5 million contract grew into an $8 million contract. They paid regularly, and it was great. For a while.”
He said they then stopped getting paid. Once Lea and other subcontractors traced Hoku’s business structure, they realized they were ultimately dealing with the Chinese government at the top level.