SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The Springfield City Council and Maintenance & Development Subcommittee held a discussion Tuesday on repairing street lights in the city, mainly from State Street onto Main Street.
A Springfield business owner, Roger Zepke owns businesses across Oak Street and Main Street and says he has been trying to get street lights relit in front of his businesses for three months. Zepke expresses that he saw almost 21 street lights not lit up on State Street and about another 10 were out on Main Street.
Now into the fall season, daylight hours will be changing. Ward 8 Springfield City Councilor, Zaida Govan, brought up how children will be walking home in the dark if the issue isn’t resolved.
“We certainly understand that coming into the fall, when the street lights become a more present issue for the residents here with the light hours getting shorter,” added Eric Falcone, Manager, Electric Operations at Eversource in Springfield. “We’ve spent the past month, really putting a lot of emphasis and a lot of our resources both internally and externally into getting these numbers down and getting these issues resolved.”
According to DPW Director Chris Cignoli, the city pays Eversource $3.58 million for about 14,5000 street lights. The average light is approximately $230 or so a year. “That cost is made up of electric use as well as maintenance costs,” said Cignoli. “When lights go out, we don’t get charged for a replacement of light.”
When there is a notification of a street light being out whether it is in the city’s or Eversource system, he indicated that the city doesn’t track any reported 311 calls into the city and are forwarded to Eversource. Eversource then conducts an analysis on whether or not they are dealing with bulb, wiring problems, or underground problems.
Falcone clarifies that there have been underground wiring issues. In which excavation and a lot of investigations will be required. This could cause delays.
Eversource has agreed to an installation process of the street lights. This is scheduled to start on January 1, but until then a plan to make residents feel safe is being brought on by the city. “It’s a safety and economic development issue, as infrastructure continues to age and fail,” said City Councilman, Jesse Lederman.
There are decorative lights on specifically, State and Main Streets, that serve some purpose and are long-leave items. However, Falcone says they are looking to replace equipment with some more standard items as well, in order to get the lights up quicker. “We are spending a lot of our time and a significant amount of our resources to addressing these street lights especially,” said Falcone.
Eversource claims to track numbers and outages that are reported. “If a resident either calls or puts in a street repair request online, they are provided with a work order number, in which they can go to our website and they can track that, and we’ll evaluate it whether it is on schedule or in progress,” explained Falcone. “To our own tracking, we reduce the number of outstanding repair work from well over 300 requests and we are down to about 120 at the moment. We need to get that even lower before we even get to the actual daylight savings time.” If street lights aren’t reported, DPW crews will navigate them in order to get a direct work order into Eversource’s system.
“The more information we get in, the quicker we can get to it,” said Joe Mitchell, Community Relations and Economic Development Specialist at Eversource Energy. He says providing a direct street address helps to narrow down which particular lights need fixing.
Cignoli adds, “I’m going to guess there’s probably 100 plus in the city that is out that either us or Eversource knows about.” Govan hopes LEDs will solve some of these problems.
Eversource is to maintain ownership of switching out ordinary street lights with 3,000-degree Kelvin LED lights, but taking a five-length time span to complete the retrofitting and rewiring, according to Cignoli. Eversource and DPW will be discussing with each other, where in the city they will start the project to warn residents ahead of time. Materials have been ordered. The brightness of the lights will be similar to indecent lights that have already been installed in the past.