Hoku Scientific says it wants to remain a Hawaii company
Expansion in Idaho doesn't mean the company will move, its chairman says
Hoku Scientific Inc. reaffirmed its commitment to Hawaii yesterday a day after the alternative energy company said it was exploring the sale of its Kapolei facility and canceling plans to put in a solar manufacturing line there.
Those announcements came in conjunction with Hoku's signing of another multimillion-dollar supply contract for the $260 million-plus polysilicon plant it is building in Pocatello, Idaho.
Hoku said it will increase the plant's capacity to produce polysilicon -- the material used to make solar modules -- to 3,000 metric tons a year from 2,000. The news sent Hoku's stock soaring 38.1 percent, or $2.65, to $9.60 yesterday on heavy volume of more than 24 million shares.
Hawaii has had a history of technology companies that were founded here later relocating to the mainland, but Dustin Shindo, chairman, chief executive and president of Hoku, said yesterday that he wants to remain in Hawaii even though the bulk of the company's operations will be on the mainland.
He said that even though Hoku no longer plans to manufacture solar panels, the company is committed to its solar installation business in Hawaii.
"Like any business in Hawaii, our presence in Hawaii is dependent on our success in Hawaii," Shindo said. "We are having success in the solar installation business. Winning the bid in the competition for a 167-kilowatt Hawaiian Electric Co. solar installation is one indication of that."
Hoku, which has been in its 14,000-square-foot facility in Kapolei since 2005, said Wednesday it is exploring the sale of its headquarters that sit on 2.2 acres of land in Kapolei. The company also had planned to install a solar module assembly line there.
"While we are considering selling the Kapolei facility, if we do that we're looking for office and warehouse space closer to town," he said. "You can take that as the best indication that we are committed to stay here. Like any good business, we have extra space and unused assets, and have to convert that to cash."