Bright idea brings cost savings to Clinton

Chris Berendt Staff Writer

October 25, 2013

The Clinton Public Works Department, in partnership with Duke Energy, has forged ahead with an effort to better and more efficiently illuminate the streets of Clinton while flipping the switch on approximately $20,000 in annual savings for the city.

Thanks to a no-cost program, Clinton will be able to not only replace aging street lights, and do so with new, more efficient LED (light-emitting diode) lights that will reduce the bottom line.

“There are 593 fixtures that Duke Power will be changing this year that are over 20 years old,” said Clinton Public Works director Jeff Vreugdenhil. “Each light will cost a minimum of $2 a month less than the old one, so that will be over $20,000 a year savings on the city’s street lighting costs.”

Lights have already been replaced on Barris Avenue, Fifth Street, Main Street, College Street and various other locations across the city. Duke will continue to make visits to streets citywide until all the fixtures are replaced — and that cycle is expected to continue, which will only result in more savings, Vreugdenhil said.

“They will be going all over town, wherever they have a good inventory of lighting,” said Vreugdenhil. “They are much more efficient and offer much better lighting.

Through Duke Energy’s Smart Saver Incentive program, businesses, municipalities and other entities receive funding to install high-efficiency lighting, as well as other kinds of equipment such as HVAC and pumps. In Clinton’s case, the use of energy efficient equipment will enable the city to reduce its consumption, while lowering the costs associated with equipment and subsequent upgrades.

“It’s a great public-private partnership,” Vreugdenhil said.

He said one particular light on Barris Avenue was replaced recently and Vreugdenhil, who lives in the area, did not inform any neighbors of the new LED light. They noticed right away, he said.

“It is a brighter light with less lumens (amount of light output) than the ones up there, and it costs less,” the Public Works director pointed out. “It’s just good business.”

It has been found that LEDs convert a given amount of electric current into light, doing so more efficiently than standard incandescent bulbs. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a typical Energy Star-rated LED uses 20 to 25 percent of the energy that an incandescent bulb uses and lasts up to 25 times longer.

Vreugdenhil said he wants to continue to bring that kind of cost and energy efficiency to Clinton.

“Each year, we will submit a list (to Duke Energy) of those that need updating,” he noted. “It will be a significant cost savings to the town.”

Household Hazardous Waste

The City of Clinton’s first-ever Household Hazardous Waste Collection Day was a success, with nearly 80 residents disposing of items they would normally not be able to as part of regular trash or cleanup week collections.

“It went very well,” said Vreugdenhil. “We had about 78 participants.”

The city and the Sampson County Extension Center, in cooperation with the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Pesticide Disposal Assistance Program, offered the household hazardous waste and pesticide collection this past weekend, extending the opportunity not only for residents in Sampson but all surrounding counties.

Among other items, the city offered to collect oil-based paints; outdated medicine; paint thinners and solvents; drain cleaners; cleaning products; rechargeable batteries; pool chemicals; mercury and items containing mercury; old gasoline; antifreeze; fluorescent light bulbs; driveway sealer; and aerosol paints and pesticides.

The city has frequently reminded residents not to include such household hazardous waste and light bulbs in its residential garbage, curbside single-stream recycling or its items placed for pick-up during cleanup weeks. While still not accepting such hazardous items at curbs, the Oct. 19 event at the City Market served as a way for residents to dispose of them at no cost.

During the four-hour collection, experts and other city and agricultural officials asked that residents wishing to drop off items have them in the trunk of their vehicles. They did not have to get out, but just pull up to the Market parking lot and pop the trunk.

Throughout the day, residents dropped off a lot of household cleaners, paint, paint thinners and fluorescent light tubes, among other items, the Public Works director said. He said he hopes to see the partnerships and the event continue.

“It’s just about serving the citizens,” Vreugdenhil remarked. “I would like to make that an annual thing and see the participation rise.”

Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 121 or via email at