BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)- SolarCity’s Riverbend development has become a symbol of resurgence in the Queen City.
In fact, the State of New York has dubbed SolarCity the star of Buffalo in a new tourism commercial.
But after a series of hiccups, including lay offs and late payments, are leaders worried the state has bit off more than it can chew?
Congressman Brian Higgins told News 4 solar is still relatively new, and demands public investment in order to grow.
“The industry is maturing. It’s matured substantially just in the last 18 months, and with new technology will continue to mature. So there’s always some uncertainty; this is business, nothing is guaranteed,” he said.
Governor Andrew Cuomo agreed to use $750 million of state money to see it off, followed by a promise $5 billion private investment from SolarCity.
Last week, the state made good on its late payments to contractors.
Higgins told News 4 he’s “hopeful” that won’t be a regular problem.
SolarCity has been criticized for not following through on job promises before; in 2012, press reports in Oregon said the company took state aid to create jobs, but ended up using prison labor for less than a dollar an hour.
The plant in Buffalo is said to be the largest in the western hemisphere; the state maintains it’s on schedule to open in 2017.
“I was concerned to be truthful, that if the investment tax credit for solar was not approved that that would have an adverse impact on the industry. It was approved in December for a period of five years,” Higgins said.
He added that extending tax incentives for solar was crucial to this project. He hopes by the time they do expire, SolarCity won’t need government subsidies.