More than 150 people came out last month for a Currituck Chamber of Commerce open house at a new 2,000-acre farm solar farm. The event was co-hosted by the nearby Elizabeth City Chamber, home to the state’s first wind farm.
Currituck County, the northeastern most county in North Carolina, will receive $500,000 in annual tax revenue from this project.
The chambers partnered with the project’s developer, SunEnergy1, on the event that also attracted representatives from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which will purchase solar from the North Carolina farm.
“As a chamber, we are committed to fostering a thriving and sustainable local economy—and this new solar project will absolutely help us do that in ways that will enhance our community’s quality of life,” said Josh Bass, President of the Currituck Chamber of Commerce.
In addition to the added tax revenue, the local economy will benefit from locally sourced building materials and added construction and maintenance jobs.
According to a Duke University report, released in 2015, solar-friendly policies have helped North Carolina be a leader in solar investment—providing jobs and economic development opportunities to all parts of the state, including rural ones that have struggled historically to create jobs and businesses.
Moreover, the report found, the benefits of solar energy go beyond the particular communities that host them. “All parts of the solar value chain – investors, solar developers, construction contractors, solar panel and component manufacturers – are creating jobs and providing landowners, workers and towns across North Carolina with income and tax revenue,” the report found.
In February, the Currituck County Commissioners banned future solar development in the country, while grandfathering in the SunEnergy1 project.
Recognizing renewable energy as a driver of the local economy, the Currituck Chamber said it is in the best interest of the region to educate the community about the financial benefits from solar energy.
When fully developed, the project is expected to be the largest solar farm east of the Mississippi.