Clayton seeking $2 million for electric system

ndunn@newsobserver.comApril 21, 2014 

To help keep pace with resuming growth, the Town of Clayton wants to borrow $2 million for its electric system.

Developers continue to launch and restart residential building projects, which typically require the framework for electricity service.

Dale Medlin, head of Clayton’s electricity system, said the town can typically stretch its budget dollars to pay for new or improved infrastructure. However, that’s hard during a period of aggressive building.

“The economy has picked back up, and we have an accumulation of a lot of projects that are going to happen within a small time frame, and it takes a considerable amount of revenue to pay for it,” Medlin said.

Clayton leaders have applied to issue $2 million in electric system revenue bonds. Those types of bonds would require the town pledge to pay off debt with the money customers pay for electricity service. The borrowing is subject to approval by the state’s Local Government Commission.

Town Manager Steve Biggs said the borrowing would not require increases in electricity rates. “We expect the expanded customer base to cover the cost of the debt service,” he said.

Medlin said several recent, ongoing and future projects include:

•  Phases one and two of the Front Street extension, which will eventually connect Front Street to N.C. 42 East.

•  The Arbors at East Village, a new 192-unit apartment complex on the Front Street extension.

•  Creekside Commons and Bristol at Cobblestone, two residential communities off of Champion Street behind Burger King.

•  Improvements in Glen Laurel subdivision.

“We have subdivisions coming in with as many as 200 units in one subdivision,” Medlin said. “There is a lot of potential growth that can happen.”

Town leaders say the borrowed money will also pay for improvements to existing infrastructure and an automated monitoring system that will provide real-time status updates and controls over the electric system.

“We have to manually monitor everything now,” Biggs said, adding that crews also physically investigate each issue.

In Johnston County, the towns of Clayton, Benson, Selma and Smithfield own and operate their own electricity-distribution systems.

Also, as members of the N.C. Eastern Municipal Power Agency, the towns own a small percentage of the generating capacity at the Sharon Harris nuclear power plant. In February, Duke Energy Progress announced plans to purchase the Power Agency’s shares in regional power plants. The deal could relieve towns like Clayton of millions of dollars in debt accrued while building and maintaining the plants.

Dunn: 919-553-7234, Ext. 104

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