And rural areas are getting a large slice of that pie:
A new report shows the economic impact of more than a decade of clean energy investment in the state. The study from the North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association finds clean energy development projects generated more than $28.2 billion dollars statewide since 2007.
Clean energy projects can be a boon to rural, low-income counties. The report finds rural Eastern counties have benefitted the most. Duplin and Robeson counties lead the state with more than $650 million dollars of clean energy investment apiece.
In place of my normal long-winded spiel, I'll quote myself from almost four years ago:
One of the most difficult issues facing lawmakers and rural advocates is how to bring some level of prosperity back to areas that used to have textile mills and lucrative tobacco farms. Our consumer-based economy, which generates so much revenue in densely populated regions, fails miserably where populations aren’t so dense. And the very thing that makes these areas attractive to many who live there, the lack of bustling crowds and traffic jams, is the very thing that’s killing them.
Some lawmakers see the redistribution of N.C. sales taxes as a possible solution, but it would come at the cost of destroying the budgets of communities all along the I-85/40 corridor, which will be forced to raise taxes or reduce police patrols and other needed public services. That’s not a solution, at least not one we can live with.
What many lawmakers fail to realize – one answer to the rural economic conundrum – is the proliferation of solar farms in North Carolina. Near an Interstate? Doesn’t matter. Got an airport, banking headquarters, adequate parking, retail market penetration? Doesn’t matter. The sun is shining, and that’s all that matters.
The genius of this approach is the ability of farm families to multi-purpose their land. Somebody with a couple hundred acres can set aside 1/3 of that for a Solar farm, which will generate a stable monthly income from leasing, and still cultivate the other 2/3 to produce fruits/vegetables or raise stock. That reliable monthly income is critical in preserving farmland, something many Republicans still don't understand.