Agriculture

ConEdison calls county’s solar project reaction ‘vitriolic, ‘unfair’

After Board of Supervisors threatens to stop solar project and file a lawsuit, developer acknowledges tax allocation "difficulties," but says project will continue

James J. Dixon, Senior Vice President & Chief Operating Officer of Con Edison Development, sent a response to the San Benito County Board of Supervisors on July 20, a day after a BenitoLink story reported that the county is considering cancelling the Panoche Valley Solar Project and suing the company after learning the county can expect to receive no sales tax revenue from the project.

The letter, sent via email and FedEx to the county and shared with BenitoLink by the company, is titled "Con Edison Development's Continuing Commitment to its Obligations."

Below is the letter, in its entirety:

Gentlemen:

I am writing to express to you my deep disappointment with the report in Benitolink of the July 18, 2017 San Benito County Board of Supervisors meeting.

During our face-to-face meeting in May, I confirmed to each of you that Con Edison Development would live up to its commitments to San Benito County. During our meeting, I also explained that the rationale for the settlement that Con Edison Development entered into was to ensure that the Panoche Valley Solar project moved forward and provided the County with as much benefit as possible. We truly believe, then and now, that without the settlement the alternative is that there would be no project and, consequently, no benefit to the County.

Despite the vitriolic rhetoric and unfair characterizations of Con Edison Development, we are going to follow through on our commitments to the County to maximize the tax benefits from the solar generation project that will be built in Panoche Valley. We are experiencing difficulties in regards to how sales and use tax are allocated to the County, but as I explained to your County Administrative Officer, Ray Espinoza, we are using our best efforts to address the issues that have caused the taxes paid by the project’s contractors and suppliers not to be allocated to San Benito County. We will continue in this effort and hope that, where necessary, the County will cooperate and assist if needed.

I recognize that only action, and not words, will convince you of the sincerity of our commitment. I will do all I can do so convince you.

Respectfully,

James J. Dixon

Adam Breen

Adam Breen has been a San Benito County resident since 1980 and graduated from Sacred Heart School and San Benito High School before earning a bachelor's degree from California State University, Fresno. A father of two sons, Adam has taught newspaper, English and yearbook at SBHS for the past decade, after six years as a magazine editor for Santa Clara University. He previously was editor of the Hollister Free Lance and content director for BenitoLink.