This article was originally published on The Fayetteville Observer.
North Carolina is emerging as a national leader in renewable energy. We generate more solar energy than all but a couple of states. We are home to the largest wind farm in the Southeast, now generating power near Elizabeth City.
But North Carolina’s clean energy industry pumps out more than electricity: It creates jobs. It creates much-needed local property tax revenues. It delivers economic development dollars to rural communities that too often lose out to their big-city counterparts.
According to RTI International and the N.C. Sustainable Energy Association, major renewable energy investments since 2007 have totaled $277.6 million in Cumberland County. The projects are diverse: there are solar panels atop the Target store on Skibo Road in Fayetteville; south of Dunn, there is a $12 million, large-scale solar farm that was built by Strata Solar.
While the investment number is impressive, the stories behind the statistics are what make renewable energy such a vital part of North Carolina’s economy. Those investments put food on family tables and money into county budgets for schools and roads.
Sept. 25-29 is National Clean Energy Week, which provides an opportunity to celebrate the positive economic impact solar and wind energy is having on our state’s economy. Renewable energy is responsible for nearly 35,000 full-time jobs across North Carolina.
I know that with continued foresight and leadership at the local, regional and state levels, these opportunities will continue to grow.
Mark Fleming, CEO and president, Conservatives for Clean Energy, Raleigh