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Eversource will convert Springfield streetlights to LED bulbs beginning in 2023

Jul 14, 2023

Failing streetlight infrastructure in Springfield, Massachusetts is going to be replaced, but it will take several years.

City Councilors hailed plans to modernize the city of Springfield's street illumination with energy efficient LED technology while calling for diligence in reducing a backlog of streetlight outages that pose a heightened public safety risk as the end of Daylight Saving Time approaches.

City Council President Jesse Lederman said it is "excellent news" that all the city's streetlights will be replaced with LED bulbs.

"This is a change the City Council has advocated for many years," Lederman said.

As part of the conversion work, he said a survey should be done to identify areas of the city where additional illumination is needed.

Eversource, the utility company that owns the streetlights in Springfield, plans to begin the upgrade to LEDs in early 2023 said Eversource spokesman Joe Mitchell.

"We have a number of capital initiatives that Eversource wants to accomplish in any given year and based on the feedback we received from the city, we now want to prioritize this effort and put it at the foremost in our capital plan for fiscal 2023," he said.

There are more than 14,000 streetslights in Springfield and it will take 5 years to retrofit all with the LED bulbs said DPW Director Chris Cignoli.

"Wiring for these street lights which is up on poles or underground, I hate to use the word, is ancient, but they are going to run into neighborhoods where the work is going to take a lot longer because of the wiring they’ll have to do," Cignoli said.

Supply chain issues prevent the conversion project from taking place faster, said Mitchell. The total cost for the work is unknown, he said.

Because the LED bulbs use less electricity it is not expected the city will pay substantially more to operate and maintain the streetlights once the upgrades are completed, said Cignoli. Currently, the city pays $3.3 million annually to Eversource keep the streetlights on.

Speaking at a meeting Tuesday of the City Council's Maintenance and Development Committee, Eric Falcone, Electric Field Operations Manager for Eversource, said there is a current backlog of 120 non-working streetlights in Springfield.

"We aim to get that lower before we get to (the end of) Daylight Saving Time," Falcone said.

He said in some instances all that is required to get a streetlight turned on again is to replace the bulb, but repairs can take much longer if there is a problem with the underground wiring or the light fixture.

City Councilor Zaida Govan said she's heard from constituents about streetlights they say have not been working for months.

"October is here and that means the sun is going to go down sooner." She said. "Our children are going to be walking home in the dark and that is not a safe situation."

Cignoli said the city does not track streetlight outages reported to the city's 311 call center. He said the information is just passed directly to Eversource.