Monday, 22 August 2016 09:40

Industry Leaders Learn Rail Safety

The Halifax County Economic Development Commission hosted a NCDOT program focused on rail safety for local business and industry that rely on highway transportation. Dr. David Robinson, NCDOT's BeRailSafe Outreach Consultant, Dr. David Robinson, presented important information on rail emergency contacts, how active crossing signals operate, and methods of stopping train movement in emergent situations.

Every three hours, a person or vehicle is struck by a train in the United States. Trains cannot stop quickly enough to avoid a collision as it takes the average freight train traveling 55 MPH more than a mile to stop. While North Carolina's incidents are not that frequent, the numbers are not insignificant. In 2015, 66 grade crossing crashes resulted in 9 deaths and 88 injuries and 41 trespassing incidents resulted in 20 deaths and 16 injuries.

CSX Transportation operates a Class A rail line in Halifax County with a total of 50 grade crossings and 35+ trains a day.

For more information on rail safety, visit

From the Roanoke Rapids Daily Herald - With years of restaurant experience, Lake Gaston resident Buddy Myers said he’s close to opening a new establishment in the former Lone Star Steakhouse & Saloon location on Premier Boulevard in Roanoke Rapids. Myers told The Daily Herald his upcoming restaurant is Angus Prime Rib Steak House, which he emphasized uses Angus beef because of the meat’s high quality.

“Angus is the best you can get,” he said. “That’s top of the line.”

He said the building is an excellent location, noting the facility hasn’t been used in six years since the prior restaurant closed.

Myers, who previously owned steakhouses in Goldsboro and Williamsburg, Va., said his newest venture is set to start business in about four weeks. The restaurant will feature prime rib, as the name implies, from the Midwest, as well as other steaks, seafood and chicken, he said.

Solar Company Will Manufacture Photovoltaic Panels

Halifax, N.C. – Governor Pat McCrory, North Carolina Commerce Secretary John E. Skvarla, III, the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina (EDPNC), and Halifax County announced today the arrival of SWELECT Energy Systems LLC to Halifax County. The company intends to build a 155-person workforce and invest than $4.7 million at a manufacturing site at the Halifax Corporate Park and adjacent solar farm.

“This announcement is another example of North Carolina’s competitive business climate, talented workforce and strong economic comeback, especially in manufacturing,” said Governor McCrory. “SWELECT also fits in to our all-of-the-above energy strategy to contribute to our country’s energy independence and create jobs in North Carolina.”

The company is the U.S. unit of SWELECT Energy Systems Limited, a leading name in power electronics and renewable energy based in Mylapore, India. The publicly-held parent company (NSE: SWELECTES) has installed more than 1,700 solar farms since its founding in 1983. Its buyers include major corporations seeking to adopt solar energy systems into their operations.

“SWELECT’s choice of Halifax County highlights all the factors that have made North Carolina the Southeast’s #1 state for manufacturing jobs,”said Secretary Skvarla. “A competitive cost-structure, highly productive workers and ease of access to North American markets all will play a part in this company’s success.”

SWELECT Energy will hire 155 workers at its Halifax County operations. Positions will include skilled operators, quality control specialists, logistics personnel and others. Annual salaries will vary by position but will average at least $30,419.

“Producing modules at the Halifax County facility allows us to help North Carolina meet its renewable energy goals and further support the U.S. market,” said R. Chellepan, SWELECT’s managing director. “Our partnership with North Carolina and Halifax County presents the opportunity for SWELECT to leverage 30 years of world class experience in solar manufacturing. We are delighted that our products will be ‘Made in the USA.’”

SWELECT engaged Bridge Consulting to guide them through the establishment process. Bridge Consulting, a Raleigh firm specializing in Business Management Consulting and foreign direct investment, secured SWELECT’s site location and is providing ongoing business acceleration services.

“Halifax County is proud to welcome SWELECT Energy Systems to the Halifax Corporate Park,” commented Vernon J. Bryant, Chairman of the Halifax County Board of Commissioners. We look forward to a strong corporate partnership with SWELECT and the positive economic impact this project will have for the citizens of Halifax County,”

The project was made possible in part by a performance-based grant of up to $600,000 from the One North Carolina Fund. The One NC Fund provides financial assistance, through local governments, to attract business projects that will stimulate economic activity and create new jobs in the state. Companies receive no money up front and must meet job creation and investment performance standards to qualify for grant funds. One NC grants also require and are contingent on financial matches from local governments. Halifax County will construct a manufacturing facility that will be leased to the company for its U.S. manufacturing operations.

Halifax County is fortunate to have a Board of Commissioners and community and business leaders who are committed to promoting economic growth in our community,” said Frank Avent III, Chairman of the Halifax County Economic Development Commission. Avent added, “This is another example of the strong collaborative efforts between our state and local economic development representatives and proof that Working Together Works.”

“Halifax County welcomes this leading-edge alternative energy company,” said N.C. Senator Angela Bryant. “We look forward to SWELECT Energy Systems becoming a valued member of our business community.”

“Congratulations to this global manufacturer of solar equipment on its choice of Halifax County for this exciting investment,” said N.C. Representative Michael H. Wray. “I am proud of the collaboration between our local and state economic development organizations and educational and utility partners for bringing this significant opportunity to us.”

Joining EDPNC and N.C. Commerce in supporting SWELECT’s new location are the North Carolina General Assembly, the North Carolina Community College System, Halifax County, Halifax County Business Horizons, Inc., and Roanoke Electric Cooperative.

  • $100,000 gift to the Center for Energy Education will provide local teachers with training, resources and programs to enhance science curriculum 
  • Will help train professionals for the state's solar industry 

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Duke Energy Renewables has awarded $100,000 to the Center for Energy Education, a nonprofit organization whose mission encompasses research, education, and training workers for North Carolina's growing solar industry.

Created by the solar development company, Geenex, LLC, the nonprofit will be located at the former Halifax County Airport, near Roanoke Rapids, N.C., adjacent to the 20-megawatt Halifax Solar Power Project owned by Duke Energy Renewables.

The center's campus and 5,000 square-foot facility are under construction and expected to be complete in October 2016. 

"Duke Energy Renewables' support will enable us to take several big steps this year," said Georg Veit, CEO of Geenex and chairman of the center's board of directors. "Energy education has to start early in students' lives, which leads to better professionals in the renewable energy industry." 

A portion of the funds is dedicated to a partnership with North Carolina State University's The Science House, part of the school's College of Sciences. The Science House will locate its Eastern North Carolina satellite office at the center and will work with local schools to provide resources, programs and teaching materials to K-12 educators.

In addition, the center will expand a professional development training program for N.C. science teachers that helps them integrate energy education into the established science curriculum. With Duke Energy's gift, the middle-school program will expand to elementary and high school teachers. 

"Duke Energy's investment will enhance the ability of the Center for Energy Education to motivate educators and students toward study and work in renewable energy," said Vernon Bryant, chairman of the Halifax County Board of Commissioners. 

"Halifax County looks forward to partnering with the center in building a foundation of skilled, knowledgeable workers for this growing industry sector as well as opportunities for interactive experiences for residents and visitors through walking trails and energy exhibits," Bryant added.

The vision for the Center for Energy Education was based on a strong relationship with Halifax County and long-term commitment to the area. 

"Through the solar projects we've built in Eastern North Carolina, we've brought jobs and economic development to the region," said Greg Wolf, president Duke Energy Commercial Portfolio and Duke Energy Renewables. "Many communities have welcomed us, and we're pleased to participate in a program that benefits these communities and will help local men and women gain the skills to qualify for jobs in the solar industry."

The donation also will be used to develop a quarter-mile walking loop that will connect the center to outdoor exhibits on campus. 

"The concept of the walking trail was developed in response to community interest in more spaces for physical activity that can also be an inspiration for sustainability," said Veit. "We envision the walking loop as a first step toward further campus development that will incorporate healthy lifestyles, sustainable living and education about the positive impacts of renewable energy."


2015 marked a banner year for solar power in North Carolina as Duke Energy companies set a record for the amount of solar energy they added in the state -- more than 300 megawatts (MW), enough to power about 60,000 average homes. The U.S. Energy Information Administration says North Carolina should be second only to California for utility-scale solar construction in 2015.

Since 2011, Duke Energy Renewables has built 25 solar facilities in North Carolina, representing 270 MW and an investment of about $700 million. 

News editors: map and solar photos available upon request

About Duke Energy Renewables

Duke Energy Renewables, part of Duke Energy's Commercial Businesses, is a leader in developing innovative wind and solar energy generation projects for customers throughout the United States. The company's growing portfolio of commercial renewable assets includes 18 wind farms and 35 solar farms in operation in 12 states, totaling about 2,500 megawatts in electric-generating capacity. Learn more at

Headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., Duke Energy is a Fortune 250 company traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol DUK. More information about the company is available at: Follow Duke Energy on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.

About the Center for Energy Education

The Center for Energy Education is a non-profit organization, located in Halifax County, N.C., whose mission is to be a cutting edge space where education, research and industry-leading professionals work and learn side by side. It is a space where the local community finds the inspiration and opportunities to become the energy professionals and advocates of sustainability of tomorrow. The Center will serve citizens throughout eastern North Carolina and beyond. Learn more at

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