Rose Hill, Duplin County: - Solar Farms are moving in to eastern Carolina because power companies here are paying more for the sun generated energy than companies on the west side of the state. Brother and sister Wyatt Blanchard and Catherine Blanchard Register, are the first people in Duplin County to lease their land to a solar company.
The ten acre plot of solar panels took about three months to install. It generates enough power to run 1,100 houses. The energy from the farm is sold to power companies, but used in houses surrounding the panels.
Farmer Edward Dail of Dail farms says several friends are taking advantage of the lease. He says with all the uncertainty of farming, a steady flat income could be a perk.
"Whether the wind blows or storms or tornadoes or hurricanes in the fall you always will be guaranteed X-number of dollars off that acre of ground so that the best part of it," said Dail.
But the length of the lease could be a drawback.
"And maybe it is fair today but in 5-10 years before the contract is up it may not be as good as it seems today," said Dail.
Some companies, like Strata Solar give a double bonus. Not only do they pay farmers for the fields, they hire local people to install the panels. The installation won't cost counties much either, because they wont require new roads or water lines to be built.
Spokespeople from Strata Solar say after the lease is up, they will be responsible for removing the panels. Strata uses only "permeable" products when installing their panels, which means no concrete or gravels. This makes removal easy, and gives farmers the option to re-plant crops in the fields if they would like.
Farmers say, they like the option of leasing their land. That way, family owned land can stay in the family. Farmers say they also like the fact they can choose to plant crops once the lease expires if the market changes in 20 years and plants become more valuable.