Convalt Energy’s planned plant hits snag

Published: Oct. 7, 2022 at 5:40 PM EDT
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TOWN OF HOUNSFIELD, New York (WWNY) - The groundbreaking for a new manufacturing plant in Jefferson County has been pushed back again.

This isn’t the first time Convalt Energy’s planned solar panel plant has hit a snag. Initially, officials planned to break ground over the summer.

Despite the setbacks, Dave Zembiec with Jefferson County Economic Development says things are moving along as smoothly as they can.

“We’d like to see it moving ahead faster than it is. The bottom line is things are still moving forward. We’re seeing lots of good signs. It’s been delayed but it’s a big project. There’s a lot of complicated pieces to bring together between the planning, funding, and financing that’s going to be involved,” he said.

As of now, The groundbreaking is slated for November. According to Zembiec, financing is the hold-up. He says Convalt is currently trying to secure a $25 million low-interest loan through the Department of Agriculture and the vetting process is taking a while.

“You look at $25 million in financing, it can be pretty significant. But because you have the government loan guarantee coming in there it takes a little bit more time for the vetting process,” said Zembiec.

When things are finalized, the plant is set to sprout up at an 88-acre plot of land right next to Watertown International Airport in the town of Hounsfield. That location gives the airport a unique opportunity.

“They’ve got business going on overseas. It’d be great to have the local airport there for customers to fly into and people to fly in and out of. That might spur business at the airport. It’d be an advantage to the company to have the airport right next door,” said Zembiec.

He says more than just the airport will benefit. The over 300,000-square-foot facility is set to bring in a lot of jobs.

“It’d start out probably employing about 150-160 employees first year. By the end of year 3 we expect to see 400 employees and continue growth beyond that,” said Zembiec.

According to Zembiec, delays like this aren’t exactly uncommon. He says he’s confident that the groundbreaking will take place this November. The plant itself should be open by mid-2023.