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Photo: O2 Energies/screenshot

Renewable energy is growing fast in North Carolina. Just last week, Duke Energy announced a $500 million investment in new solar capacity. And on Thursday of last week, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack visited a Franklin County solar farm to announce $68 million of support from the USDA for 540 new energy effieciency and renewable energy projects. Importantly, for NC, both Time Warner Cable and WRAL are reporting that $55 million of that money will go to North Carolina projects in the form of grants and loan guarantees.

Here’s more from the USDA’s own announcement on the initiative:

In North Carolina alone, Vilsack announced $55.3 million in new REAP program loan guarantees and grants for 22 solar energy projects. For example, USDA is awarding a $3 million loan guarantee to Broadway Solar Center, LLC to help finance a 5 megawatt solar array in Columbus County, a $4.9 million loan guarantee for a similar project in Hertford County and a $2.1 million guarantee for a project in Warren County.

Vilsack’s choice of venue for the announcement—a Progress Solar installation in Bunn, NC—is significant, not just as a working example of clean energy. As we reported previously, the site also serves as a working example of how solar can be combined with grazing land, minimizing the impact that the push for clean energy has on the productivity of farm land.