Industries Economic Development

Top executives of Israeli-based energy company coming to Wise County

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Print this page By Paula C. Squires

Wise County officials and the Virginia Israel Advisory Board are gearing up for an important meeting with the top executives of an Israel firm interested in building a 500-megawatt solar facility in the U.S.

Ralph Robbins, executive director of the Virginia Israel Advisory board, says the CEO and CFO of Energix Renewable Energies Ltd., a public company based in Tel Aviv, are coming to Wise County for a series of meetings with local and state officials that begin Tuesday evening and go into Thursday.

Robbins, who heads the small agency that works with the state in creating business opportunities out of Israel, said about 60 people are expected to attend a main briefing with the executives on Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. at the Inn at Wise Courthouse.

During a recent trip to Israel, Robbins said he spoke with representatives of Energix and that Gov. Terry McAuliffe also paid the company a visit during a trade mission to Israel and the United Kingdom in July. 

“It’s quite exciting,” Robbins said. “We are cautiously optimistic. This would be their first venture in the U.S. … We’re hoping we can all work together to try to find a new power source that’s economically good for everyone and that will satisfy the governor’s goal of racking up more solar power for the commonwealth. “

According to Jack Kennedy, clerk of circuit court for Wise County and the city of Norton and the local contact working with Robbins’ group, the daylong agenda gives local and state agencies an opportunity to meet and greet the executives.

According to that agenda, the day will begin with a welcome from Maurice Jones, the state’s secretary of commerce and trade. After that, Asa Levinger, Energix’s CEO, and Elad Cohen, the CFO, will give a presentation on their company.

Founded in 2009, Energix describes itself as a leading Israeli renewable energy company, involved in both solar and wind energy. It has projects under construction in Israel and Poland.  The firm's parent company is AlonyHetz, an Israeli international real estate company with assets in Europe and the U.S., including several projects in Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C.

After their presentation, the company is scheduled to hear from the Virginia Association of Counties, the Department of Mines, Mineral and Energy, Mountain Empire Community College, the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority and the Wise County Industrial Development Authority. 

The morning session will be followed by a luncheon that will include comments from Del. Terry Kilgore, R-Gate City, chairman of the House Commerce and Labor Committee.

In the afternoon, the executives will meet privately with officials from several utility companies, including Dominion and APCO, said Kennedy.

According to Robbins, a 500-megawatt solar facility, or a combined solar-wind facility, could represent an investment of $500 million to $600 million dollars and create 2,000 jobs during the facility’s construction. “I think we are really fortunate to have such a company look at us.”

During the visit, Kennedy says Energix officials will tour some possible sites, including land near the Mineral Gap Data Center, which is under construction, and the Lonesome Pine Business and Technology Park.

Kennedy, a member of the board of directors of the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority and a proponent of making Wise County a hub for drone aviation, says the area needs jobs, with its traditional staple of coal mining in decline.

A new large, commercial scale renewable energy facility “would give us a chance to begin to find a 21st-century role in energy beyond where we are today and as we transition from the role that has been played historically from fossil fuels.”

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