Solar Energy in Rural North Carolina – PBS North Carolina

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“And so this really brings our team members or our families here in our service territory into a level playing field to be able to have access and actually participate in solar ownership,” Marshall says. 

“Here in northeastern North Carolina, particularly Roanoke Cooperative service territory, we’re about 60% African American,” says Cherry “Some of the most marginalized communities in North Carolina are right here in Bertie, Hertford, Northampton, Gates, Halifax Counties, the counties that we serve. 

The value of land 

Land ownership is a powerful mechanism for families to build generational wealth. 

“The privilege of being able to have something that you own is not only a financial asset, but it’s also a mindset,” Ajulo says. “It’s a way of thinking about your place in the world and your ability to achieve your dreams. Ultimately, [you] always know you have a place to come back to, where you can plant a little bit if you need to or build a home for your family.” 

To Ajulo, it’s important that rural landowners, especially people of color and their families with smaller acreage, can hold on to their land for future generations. 

“We know that land is a source of wealth for people. The question is how are they able to maintain it from one generation to the next?” Ajulo wonders. 

The fact that the pilot projects are supporting two Black landowners is no accident. Ajulo sees the importance of helping Black landowners retain their land. 

“The history of land retention in the African American community is actually a sad story,” she says. “Many African American landowners have lost their land, millions and millions of acres over generations, which is amounting to billions of dollars’ worth of wealth that’s been stripped away in one way or the other.” 

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