Contractors at Tesla-SolarCity factory await payment from State amidst scandal

Tesla-SolarCity plant at Riverbend in South Buffalo. [Source: Derek Gee/Buffalo News]
Tesla-SolarCity plant at Riverbend in South Buffalo. [Source: Derek Gee/Buffalo News]

Contractors working on the Tesla-SolarCity plant outside of Buffalo, NY might be out of shopping money this holiday season after reports that the State of New York is late on paying for work on the $900 million solar panel factory in Riverbend.

With the promise of employing 1,500 people at the factory and create 1,400 jobs to companies that supply materials and services for SolarCity’s manufacturing process, New York had a vested interest in subsidizing $485 million for the construction of SolarCity’s factory and buy most of the equipment to be used.

New York employed Buffalo Niagara region’s largest contractors, LPCiminelli who has a winning history with bidding on state contracts, to oversee the construction of SolarCity’s solar panel factory. However, recent scandal involving corruption and alleged bribery of state officials by LPCiminelli’s CEO Louis P. Ciminelli, has put a damper on the state’s ability to pay on time for work performed at the plant.

According to reports coming out of local news outlet The Buffalo News, state officials said payments have been held up because of extra scrutiny they are receiving in the wake of the corruption charges that have been filed over the process used to select LPCiminelli as the general contractor for the SolarCity project.

However, all is not lost. President of Empire State Development Howard Zemsky issued a statement reassuring contractors that work will be paid for on the project. “Everyone will get paid for their work, but in light of the investigation, the payment process has extra layers of review and takes additional time,”.

As of today, the last payment made by the state was in September for work that was completed in June.

Back in May of this year, New York received authorization from the Public Authorities Control Board for $485 million in funding needed to complete the construction of the solar panel factory, which will be operated by Tesla after the recent shareholder approval to acquire SolarCity for $2.1 billion.

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