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Gov. Bev Perdue backs ‘green’ LED technology

Gov. Bev Perdue spoke Thursday on the increase of environmentally friendly LED lightbulb production at the Durham manufacturer Cree.
Gov. Bev Perdue spoke Thursday on the increase of environmentally friendly LED lightbulb production at the Durham manufacturer Cree.

Cree, a pioneer producer of light-emitting diode products, announced the expansion of the company’s manufacturing capacity and the addition of several hundred jobs within the state at its corporate headquarters in Durham Thursday.

Gov. Bev Perdue and Democratic state Sens. Floyd McKissick and Dan Blue were on hand at the event as Cree Chief Executive Officer Chuck Swoboda announced plans to add 275 jobs by the end of the year, as well as another 300 over the next three years. Swoboda said the company has already started to fill the new positions.

Perdue spoke at the event, indicating her support for the proliferation of environmentally friendly technology and jobs, adding that the state would “do whatever it takes to build this green economy.”

Swoboda, who along with seven other CEOs met with President Barack Obama July 2, said they discussed the importance of innovation and using energy efficiently.

Swoboda added that the conventional light bulb is now “only appropriate for a museum,” and the highly regarded fluorescent light bulb is only a temporary solution, given the high levels of toxic mercury each one contains. LED lighting, on the other hand, is much cleaner and more efficient, consuming half the energy and emitting half the carbon of fluorescent bulbs.

“It’s a logical extension of technology advancing down the road,” Blue said. “This is much friendlier to the environment—couple that with the potential to create jobs of the future, and I feel encouraged.”

Blue, current chair of the Duke Board of Trustees, said in an interview that the switch to LED lighting could be beneficial to the University, particularly in light of an initiative to reach carbon neutrality the Board approved at its meeting last weekend. The 50-year Climate Action Plan sets a goal for Duke to reach a level of “substantive neutrality” by 2024, Blue said in an interview Sunday.

“This is a potential way for Duke to address climate issues, and we’ll see what in the sense of this Duke incorporates [in the effort to become carbon neutral],” he said.

Blue added that LED chips—which cost more up front but last 50 times as long as conventional bulbs—pay for themselves, particularly when an institution has intensive and overnight lighting, as Duke does. He noted that savings in the electric bill from using LED lighting would free up additional power for other utilities.

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