UPDATE: New York officials announced Wednesday that all of the $82.4 million owed to SolarCity factory contractors will be paid by Wednesday's end, according to the Buffalo News.
The project's main contractor, LPCiminelli, said it has received its owed payment and told its subcontractors they will be subsequenly paid. Officials expect all of the workers who were forced to leave the job to return by Monday.
- After 200 workers were laid off, the state of New York said it will pay contractors more than $82 million in late payments on the SolarCity project, which is part of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Buffalo Billion program, according to the Buffalo News.
- Contractors have not been paid for 90 to 120 days, and some companies, who cannot afford to carry unpaid expenses that long, are being denied credit by their material suppliers for unpaid bills and cannot meet payroll obligations.
- New York lawmakers are scrambling to figure out how they could have fallen so far behind on payments, but some officials have chalked up the delays to the flow of money for Buffalo Billion projects, according to the Buffalo News. At least one other project under the initiative has also experienced payment delays.
"Payments are being processed and all stakeholders agree this project will remain on schedule," Empire State Development Corp. spokesman Jason Conwall told the Buffalo News. Some laid off workers have already returned to the job, according to WKBW Buffalo.
How to prevent similar problems in the future, though, is now a priority with some lawmakers, as an additional payment will be due in a few weeks.
"I do think this is something we need to look into, so this does not happen again, because this is a very important project for our community," state Assemblyman Michael P. Kearns told the Buffalo News.
The SolarCity facility is part of The Riverbend project, a key piece of the Buffalo Billion initiative, which officials are hoping will breathe new life into the Western New York economy through jobs and investment. The 1-million-square-foot solar-panel manufacturing facility is expected to produce 10,000 solar panels per day — enough to generate one gigawatt of electricity annually.
The SolarCity project, as well as all the other Buffalo Billion-funded construction projects, include project labor agreements that mandate the use of union labor. SolarCity announced in October that its Buffalo project workforce had exceeded its minority hiring goals.