broome county

Emily/via Flickr

The Broome County Legislature has temporarily shelved a deal with California company, SolarCity, to build a solar panel project for the county. Some legislators are concerned because the company is under investigation by the federal government.

The deal with SolarCity would help reduce energy costs for the county. The deal got unanimous approval in the county’s Economic, Education, and Culture Committee, before it was known that the company was part of a federal investigation.

The Broome County Legislature recently approved a new Office of Energy Development, but the purpose of the office is not clear.

During her 2012 campaign for county executive, Debbie Preston promised to create an office for the promotion of natural gas development in Broome County. Two months after winning the election, Preston unveiled the Office of Energy Development.

"I want to make clear, this is not just gas drilling, that's not what it is, this is not a cover up for it," she said.

Matt Richmond / WSKG

The Innovation Trail is taking a closer look at New York State's industrial development agencies, or IDAs. Follow our coverage by subscribing to the IDA RSS feed.

Richard D’Attilio is the executive director of the Broome County Industrial Development Agency.

Any project awarded tax breaks by the IDA comes across his desk. And any project that is rejected comes across his desk too.

D’Attilio started with the agency 18 years ago, turning it into - basically - a developer that gives away tax breaks.

“We are revenue-driven. We are independent and autonomous from the county, the government,”  says D’Attilio. “Once the board of directors has been put in place, they are the final word on all activity.”

That means only the nine member board of directors has a say in how the IDA spends money.

It’s not clear that the board, which meets once-a-month, actually gets involved in any meaningful way.

A review of more than a year of board meeting minutes found no projects that were rejected by the board after getting the OK from D’Attilio.

Jessica N. / via foursquare

The Innovation Trail is taking a closer look at New York State's industrial development agencies, or IDAs. Get up to speed on what IDAs do - and what they don't do - by reading this primer, and subscribing to the IDA RSS feed.

In an audit released Wednesday, state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli cited Broome County's Industrial Development Agency (BCIDA) for a conflict-of-interest.

The problem: George Akel, the IDA's chairman of the board, is also part owner of a company involved in one of the agency's big ticket projects.

The comptroller says that's a no-no.

Emma Jacobs / WSKG

Recently a reader sent us what seems like a fairly straight-forward question:

What does New York actually stand to make from hydrofracking?  How much money, for the state, and for individual landowners/secondary businesses/drilling firms?

Unfortunately, in the Marcellus Shale, there are no simple answers.