GREENSBORO, N.C. — Gov. Roy Cooper (D-NC) announced Monday Toyota will invest nearly $1.29 billion into a battery manufacturing plant at the Greensboro-Randolph Megasite. The plant will create at least 1,750 new jobs.
"We're encouraging more electric vehicles on our roads and in our state government's fleet," Gov Cooper said. "As all of this progress is happening, the world will look at North Carolina as a hub of clean energy and clean energy jobs."
Toyota said it picked the Megasite for the project for numerous reasons, including the state's access to renewable energy.
The North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center at North Carolina State University said North Carolina is in the top four states in the country for solar energy. It already has the largest land-based wind farm in the southeast. The state is sure to become one of the leaders in offshore wind energy production.
Steve Kalland, Executive Director of the center, said North Carolina's political demographics helped push the state forward in renewable energy.
"A lot of these issues required some bi-partisan partnership to drive the trains forward," Kalland said. "Energy is a funny thing. It's probably the most regulated sector of the economy if I had to guess. So politics matters. North Carolina has a long history of having people from across the political aisles work together to find legislation and policy that helps to make clean energy possible."
In 2018, Gov. Cooper signed an executive order mapping out his goals for green energy in the state. He said he wanted the state to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and boost the production of emission-free vehicles. He signed another executive order in June 2021 pushing for more investment in offshore wind production.
The Megasite isn't the first time the Triad has gotten national attention for making electric vehicles. Back in April, Vice President Kamala Harris visited Thomas Built Buses in High Point, a plant that makes electric buses.
We spoke with the Electric Transportation Policy Director at the South Alliance for Clean Energy about green energy's future in our state. He said North Carolina is set up for future success.
"The jobs we create and the economic development that comes from Toyota and other manufactures are just a drop in the bucket of what's possible," Electric Transportation Policy Director Stan Cross said. "Right now nationwide, we've only seen about 2-3 percent market penetration of electric vehicles. As that grows, the number of businesses is going to be growing exponentially."
All of this comes as scientists continue to warn about the effects of climate change. Climate Central is a nonprofit organization made up of nonpartisan scientists who study the environment.
Right now, North Carolina averages about 10 dangerous heat days each year. The group defined a dangerous heat day as one in which the heat index goes above 105 degrees. According to a Climate Central study, that number could jump to nearly 60 by 2050.