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Monolith Solar loses IDA incentives, faces foreclosure

Monolith Solar loses IDA incentives, faces foreclosure

Financially ailing company has laid off dozens, faces millions of dollars in claims
Monolith Solar loses IDA incentives, faces foreclosure
Monolith Solar Associates installed this array for Schenectady County on Hetcheltown Road in Glenville in 2015.
Photographer: GAZETTE FILE PHOTOGRAPH

BETHLEHEM — Financially ailing Monolith Solar Associates is facing multiple new problems, with foreclosure on its headquarters project and revocation of financial incentives offered for its construction.

Monolith and its affiliate SAE Sun and Earth Technology Incorporated have laid off dozens of people in recent months and not done any work since August on its partially completed headquarters project off Vista Boulevard in the Slingerlands area of the town.

On March 25, Pioneer Savings Bank initiated foreclosure proceedings in state Supreme Court in Albany County, saying it had not received payments since Jan. 1 on a $3.04 million mortgage and a $960,000 loan for purchase of equipment.

On March 22, the town Industrial Development Agency voted to terminate future tax exemptions for SAE and sought to recover previously granted exemptions.

Also in state Supreme Court in Albany:

  • A default judgement for $80,358 was entered Dec. 27, 2018, against Monolith in favor of law firm Couch White LLP.
  • A complaint by Solar Foundations USA against Monolith was filed Nov. 21, 2018, seeking at least $178,138.
  • And a complaint by Consolidated Electrical Distributors against SAE and Monolith was filed Sept. 18, 2018, seeking at least $1.19 million.

Thomas Connolly, chairman of the Bethlehem IDA, said the company appears to have gotten into financial trouble and become unable to meet its committments.

The IDA cited multiple reasons for revoking the incentives, including missed benchmarks for employment levels. But basically, it came down to the company halting the work and not giving the IDA any status reports, Executive Director Thomas Connolly said.

“The main thing is they stopped construction on Sept. 1,” Connolly said Thursday. “So we decided to terminate the financial incentives we gave them.”

The IDA granted sales, use, property, mortgage and transfer tax exemptions to the project. Some of these had not been claimed yet. The IDA said it would attempt to recapture those that have been utilized. Connolly said these were $23,822 in sales tax exemptions and a $30,400 mortgage recording tax exemption, all in 2018.

He said what happens next most likely will be up to Pioneer Bank.

“It’s like all financially distressed properties, it’s got to work its way through the process.”

A Monolith representative spoke briefly to The Gazette last week but did not return a request for comment.

The company on its website says it began with Steve Erby and Niskayuna native Mark Fobare tinkering in a garage and grew to more than 100 employees and more than 43.7 megawatts of installed solar electric generating capacity. 

Erby and Fobare were replaced at the helm of Monolith in September 2017 by a CEO who lasted less than a year at the company.

On Jan. 25, 2019, Monolith filed a notice with the state Department of Labor that it would lay off six of its 23 employees at an unspecified future date. Also on Jan. 25, SAE filed notice that it would lay off 47 of its 58 employees at a date to be determined.

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