Progress Energy Carolinas is teaming up with Durham-based to build a 500-kilowatt solar power facility near Roxboro in Pearson County.

The project is the largest to date for Carolina Solar, which has built a 104-kilowatt project at the North Carolina State Zoo in Asheboro and a 75-kilowatt project on the campus of North Carolina State University in Raleigh. The company launched in 2004.

Electricity from the solar photovoltaic complex near Roxboro will be sold to Progress Energy. The utility has signed several other agreements for alternative energy as part of a plan to meet state requirements for producing energy from renewable sources.

The Roxboro plant will cover four acres and include 3,250 solar panels.

Carolina Solar plans to have the site in operation before year’s end. The project agreement came after the Durham firm proposed it in response to a Progress Energy Carolinas request for proposals.

“Photovoltaic solar technology has come a long way in the past few decades and there is no longer any doubt that solar power is becoming a viable investment in North Carolina, and will only improve as more projects are deployed, driving prices even lower," said Carolina Solar Chief Executive Officer Richard Harkrader in a statement.

Added Lloyd Yates, Progress Energy Carolinas CEO: “Solar power is an important part of our balanced energy strategy for meeting the region’s needs. We are continuing to pursue cost-effective solar and other renewable opportunities aggressively, and we expect to announce additional renewable energy investments soon.”

BB&T Equipment Finance Corporation is financing the project.