Las Vegas Sun

December 11, 2018

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Boulder City halts spending, freezes hiring while awaiting $3 million payment

Boulder City is still waiting for $3 million in lease payments, more than six months late, from a renewable energy firm that planned to build a solar panel plant in the Eldorado Valley.

City Manager Vicki Mayes had added an item to the agenda for Tuesday’s city council meeting to discuss a guarantee by Advanced Energy Innovations, Inc., to take over the lease from SolBio Energy for the 2,200-acre piece of land and pay the balance. But she withdrew it at the meeting’s outset.

The unpaid bill has left a $3 million hole in Boulder City’s $22.7 million budget for the 2011 fiscal year, which began in July. The $2 billion project was approved in December 2009, and SolBio planned to break ground in early 2010.

Mayes announced three phases of freezes and cuts at the city council’s Aug. 24 meeting to address the gap if the revenue doesn’t come. She confirmed Tuesday that the city had implemented the first phase on Sept. 1: a freeze on capital spending and a freeze on hiring vacant positions, such as an empty police sergeant slot.

The next phase, set for Oct. 1, would include layoffs of part-time employees and a reduction of non-essential services. The city council would have to approve any layoffs.

Mayes said she plans to bring a guarantee from Advanced Energy Innovations to the Sept. 28 meeting to avoid those cuts. Mayes withdrew the agenda item, she said after the meeting, because she wants to conduct more research on the company’s corporate structure, personnel and financial soundness.

Mayes had said at the Aug. 24 meeting that she and City Attorney Dave Olsen had a tentative agreement with the company’s attorney to assume responsibility for the lease, but said Tuesday that no documents were ready for the council’s approval.

According to its website, Advanced Energy Innovations is a California company, founded in 2003. It is a member of the U.S. Green Building Council, joined in 2009, and specializes in renewable energy and consultation.

The company could not be reached by phone for comment.

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