Officials say ‘no public money’ released as Li-Cycle pauses construction of Rochester hub

Officials say ‘no public money’ released as Li-Cycle pauses construction of Rochester hub

The News10NBC Team details breaking News, Traffic and Weather.

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — A company that promised to bring 275 jobs to Rochester in exchange for millions of dollars in taxpayer loans has now halted the project.

Lithium battery recycler Li-Cycle announced Monday that the construction of a major expansion at Eastman Business Park has been suspended. The pause will remain in effect pending completion of a comprehensive review of the “go-forward strategy for the project” according to the Toronto-based company.

In a statement, Li-Cycle says while engineering and procurement for the project are largely complete, it has recently experienced escalating construction costs Accordingly, the Company expects the aggregate cost for the current scope of the project to exceed its previously disclosed guidance and in light of that, the Board of Directors decided to pause construction work.

In February, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced the company had been selected for a $375 million loan to turn Rochester into a hub for recycling lithium-ion batteries, used to power electric cars, phones and other items. Li-Cycle says it continues to work closely with the U.S. Department of Energy with respect to that previously announced loan and will have additional updates on the Company’s near-term plans and the project review process on November 13.

Local leaders seemed to have no indication that trouble was brewing with the hub, just last week, Monroe County Executive Adam Bello tweeted from the facility saying, “Honored to tour @li_cycle North America Hub being built at Eastman Business Park!”

On Monday, Bello told News10NBC Investigative Reporter Jennifer Lewke he was given no indication of any issues. “Actually, we toured the site last week and I was notified this morning, just as everyone else, was that there was going to be a delay now in the construction — obviously that’s disappointing.”

When asked what kind of commitments Monroe County made to Li-Cycle for the expansion, “on the COMIDA side, the property tax abatement that would have resulted in a PILOT does not kick in until after the project is complete and they received their Certificate of Occupancy and that hasn’t happened yet, and they also need to create 100 jobs there,” Bello says.

Rep. Joe Morelle says the first he heard of any issues at Li-Cycle was Monday morning. “This is frankly shocking,” he told News10NBC. 

Morelle confirmed that the Department of Energy has not released any of the $375 million loan set aside for Li-Cycle. “People should be assured, no public money has been involved, no public money is going to be involved until we get answers, until we get back to the point where we’re doing the construction and back on line,” he says.