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Convalt passes bureaucratic hurdle to opening solar panel facility

The plan to building a solar panel facility near the Watertown airport took a step forward Tuesday.
Published: Mar. 30, 2022 at 5:39 AM EDT
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - Convalt Energy is still on the move to bring a solar panel manufacturing facility it says will create close to 300 jobs to the Watertown area.

At a meeting Tuesday, the Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency requested a PILOT -- or payment in lieu of taxes -- for both Convalt Energy and sister company DigiCollect.

“What we are proposing is a payment of tax agreement,” JCIDA CEO Dave Zembiec said.

Instead of paying taxes, the two agreements would mean a payout of about $6 million to the county, the General Brown school district, and the town of Hounsfield over a 20-year period. Nothing would be paid in the first five years.

The county Legislature’s finance and rules committee advanced the tax deal for both companies, sending this proposal to the full board of county lawmakers.

As lawmakers motioned a tax deal for Convalt Energy and DigiCollect, the county planning board also met Tuesday in order to make some final recommendations to the site plan.

That includes making sure all Federal Aviation Administration standards are met. They recommend Convalt consider things like parking and outdoor lighting of the building.

“If it’s too bright near the runway, then the pilot has a hard time with the visual aspect of landing,” planning board member Andy Nevin said.

The planning board also suggested using landscape as a buffer for people living across State Route 12.

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