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State is late paying Riverbend contractors again

The state once again is late paying contractors for work on the Riverbend solar panel factory.

Contractors working on the $900 million project haven't been paid for work that was done beginning in July and continuing through the fall.

State officials said contractors will be paid, but the 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 Buffalo contractor LPCiminelli to manage construction on the Buffalo Billion's signature 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," said Howard Zemsky, the president of Empire State Development, in a statement.

He did not say when the next payments would be made.

Contractors working on the project have complained that the late payments have created a financial hardship for them, forcing them to wait far longer than normal for work that was completed months ago. Normally, payments would be made within 30 days of the work being completed and the state receiving an invoice for that work.

Unlike this spring, when delayed payments led to layoffs of some construction workers on the project, this delay has had no impact on finishing work underway at the nearly complete factory.

The state in May received authorization from the Public Authorities Control Board for the $485 million in funding needed to complete the construction of the solar panel factory, which will be operated by Tesla Motors and will be the largest in the Western Hemisphere. Shareholders approved Tesla's $2.1 billion acquisition of SolarCity earlier this month.

The last payments to contractors were made in September for work that was completed in June. No payments have been made for any work done since then.

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