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A storm has to end somewhere

Lately, I’ve had a lot of friends comment on how freaky it is that it’s storming where they are, but just to their south, east, west, or whatever direction, they see blue skies and sunshine. If you think about it, though, it’s really not that odd.

PowerSecure buys Connecticut lighting company

PowerSecure International, an energy services company based in Wake Forest, said this morning it bought a Connecticut lighting company for $15 million.

PowerSecure intends to continue to market the acquired product lines under the Solais Lighting brand. Solais has about a dozen employees, while PowerSecure while PowerSecure employs about 700 in Wake Forest, Raleigh, Morrisville and elsewhere.

Efficient lighting through LED technology is one of PowerSecure's specialities, particularly for display cases in grocery stores and other retail applications. The company also supplies maintenance crews for electric utilities as well as emergency backup power generators for grocery stores and other institutional customers.

PowerSecure CEO Sidney Hinton said in a statement that the Solais acquisition "will provide us with catalysts to accelerate the growth and profitability of our LED lighting business."

Cree to donate $1.5 million of LED lights to Habitat

Cree plans to donate $1.5 million worth of energy efficient LED lights for kitchens of homes built by Habitat for Humanity.

The three-year partnership was announced today by Chuck Swoboda, CEO of the Durham company, during his keynote speech at the N.C. CEO Forum in downtown Raleigh.

The company's lights are designed to reduce electricity use and energy costs. But the Habitat partnership also will further Cree's efforts to encourage awareness of its LED lights, especially for residential use.

"I love things that are good for the environment, but they've also got to be good business," Swoboda said. "This is good for our business."

Cree's LED lights are more expensive up front, but save money in the end because they require less power and last much longer than traditional light bulbs.  

The Cree lights that Habitat will use in new homes are designed to last more than two decades and use 55 percent less energy than compact fluorescent bulbs.

Cree's LEDs are increasingly being adopted for commercial use, including in street lights from Raleigh to China, in more than 650 Walmart stores and more. The company employs more than 2,000 people in the Triangle and continues to hire locally.

PowerSecure shares surge 18 percent

Shares of PowerSecure International popped 18 percent today after the Wake Forest company reported positive news about its division that sells energy efficient light cases for retailers' refrigerated cases.

The EfficientLights division's revenue is expected to reach $20 million this year, up 650 percent from 2008, as retailers install the lights "at a rapid pace," PowerSecure reported.

The light fixtures are made using LEDs from Durham-based Cree. The lights reduce energy costs, last longer and improve the quality of lighting in refrigerated sections of Walgreens and other retailers.

While still a small percentage of PowerSecure's total revenue, the EfficientLights division is one of its fastest-growing.

PowerSecure shares rose $1.37 to close at $8.80. The stock has more than doubled this year.

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