Back To The Drawing Board For Pipeline Proponents.
In a surprise move today, County manager Pat Whitten announced that the pipeline proposal under consideration is off the table. After moving to combine 10 agenda items into one single item, Mr. Whitten announced to a surprised audience that one of the six companies had withdrawn their support of the proposal. This marks the second time in a year that Storey County Taxpayers have dodged a $61 million dollar bullet.
Because the proposal requires the contractual agreements of all six participating companies, the current proposal is effectively dead. The six companies, Blockchains, Switch, Google, Tesla, Reno Properties and Emerald City Empire, were all but home free as the proposal enjoyed clear sailing through the last several Commission meetings and a Legislature Finance meeting, However, at the literal last minute, one of the players decided to pack up their toys and go home.
So Who Backed Out?
Switch and Tesla have invested considerable money and time in this deal. Negotiations with Reno, Sparks, TMWA, and TMWRF have been underway for at least three years. I have seen their attorneys and representatives at Reno City Council Meetings as early as late 2016. It seems unlikely that Switch or Tesla would be the ones to pull the plug.
Reno Land is in the middle of rebuilding the Park Lane shopping center and have other developments in Truckee Meadows. Emerald City Empire, Google, and Blockchains are much more enigmatic. The Google has very little to tell us about Emerald City Empire. The conversations I have had with their principal, Randel W. Aleman have netted little in the way of details save the fact that he has $17 million riding on the deal and he wants to build a big green lake to center his big green desert empire around.
Google has not made any public statements about their plans for the property they bought early in 2017. With 75% abatements for server farms and quadrillions in profits that may qualify for the new “Opportunity Zone”, it seems all but a slam dunk they will invest heavily at TRIC. Google will probably locate their autonomous car company Waymo to Storey County as well. All pure speculation.
Blockchains plans for their 66,000 acres remains even more of a mystery. Checking out the company history, they weren’t even a thing two years ago. Late in 2016, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Facebook, and other digital breadcrumbs started to spread from the two brothers who dabble in cryptocurrency lawsuits. It remains unclear exactly what Blockchains actually does for a living and how Blockchains managed to scrape together $175 million cash to get Roger Norman out of the land business (for now). One thing we do know is that Lance Gilman and Kris Thompson work as government affairs agents for them. Watch your wallets.
Short answer, who even knows?
For now, Joe and Mary Taxpayer here in Storey County can breathe a (temporary) sigh of relief and hoot a little ooorah for this teeny little victory. Next time this deal comes around let’s guard our wallets and make sure it doesn’t need our future tax revenue to get ‘er done.