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Cuomo: Solar City late payments were a "foul up"

Posted at 8:28 AM, Mar 23, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-23 08:28:18-04

Governor Andrew Cuomo says last month's late payments to the contractor working on the new Solar City site were the result of a "foul up" by several state agencies.

Speaking Tuesday after a presentation in Niagara Falls, Cuomo said the $82 million owed to LP Ciminelli got caught up in the bureaucratic "checks and balances" that have to be followed when there are several state agencies and a large sum of money involved in a project.

About 200 construction workers were temporarily laid off from working at the RiverBend Solar City site in February because the Economic Development Corporation was late making payments to LP Ciminelli.

Cuomo says the agencies involved have taken responsibility for the incident and are taking measures to make sure it doesn't happen again.

"That's what we call a foul up, because they fouled up," Cuomo said. "When one agency transfers money to another agency they have to go through a whole bureaucratic process, and it got late, and it was a mistake."

The state is investing $500 million in the project ($350 million in capital and $150 million in tax credits) through the Buffalo Billion and $250 million in other state resources.

Despite the setback, state representatives say the project remains on schedule. Empire State Development spokesman Jason Conwall told 7 Eyewitness News that the project is slated to be open in the third quarter of 2017, and it will bring nearly 1,500 new jobs to Western New York.

The facility will be the largest of its kind in the Western Hemisphere with more than 1 gigawatt of annual solar capacity when it reaches full production.