It’s a good thing that Branford’s is the kind of guy who always keeps his head up – literally.
Walking in his home neighborhood of Pine Orchard in the early morning hours before daylight savings, Hugret said he looked up and noticed a few street lights were out – 10 to be exact.
Knowing the town pays for lights whether they are working or not, he quickly decided to check with Connecticut Light & Power on how to report the outages. He found an online reporting tool* that allows anyone to post a request to have a light problem or outage fixed. After processing his own requests, Hugret added a link to CL&P's reporting tool to the town website on the homepage, should anyone need to do the same.
In the , the town approved $320,000 to keep our streetlights light on; this money comes out of the 's budget, which is a total budget of about $2,112,000. For the town’s 3,953 lamps, it costs about $4.25 per lamp per month or $51 per light, per year. This budget items does not account for the power or maintenance of the green lights that dot downtown – those are the responsibility of PWD.
Of the online reporting tool, PWD Director Art Baker commented, “It helps reduce the amount of calls we get in the office and more important, the response time from CL&P is much greater when you put the request in the website. I encourage every resident to do it because we pay for the streetlights whether they are on or off.”
One cost-savings initiative to lower power bills is to have streetlights turned off at midnight, said Mitch Gross, Spokesman for CL&P. That concept has not been embraced by Branford or any town, reported Gross, due to safety concerns. Branford's lights run dusk to dawn.
To date, Branford is using mostly traditional streetlights, stated Gross, though the entire town is slated for re-lamping to become equipped with high-pressure sodium lamps, which are more reliable than the current bulbs. The new bulbs, not to be confused with energy-efficient LED lights being piloted in towns such as Franklin and Greenwich, are better for the power company and the town as they last much longer than older bulbs. According to Gross, the new bulbs run about six years. If CL&P must re-lamp an individual fixture or repair the pole for any reason, Gross said the new lights are being installed on a per lamp basis. The total town re-lamping date has not been identified yet but is in the works, stated Gross.
For now it looks like Branford’s energy bill will be staying the same for streetlights and it’s up to the community to do their part to help report outages if you see one. With a promise of three-day evaluation – pending due to disasters or other issues – CL&P states that they will get crews out to replace streetlights as quickly as possible. A bulb replacement can be done in as quickly as an hour stated Gross.
“It’s about efficiency,” said Gross. “If the customer has the ability to log on and report and outage, it’s an added convenience for them. Whatever helps us connect with our customer and vice versa, our customers connect with us, it’s a plus," he said of the online reporting tool, which is about one year old.
We’ve decided to put CL&P to the test and yesterday we submitted a report for a out streetlight at the intersection of Ivy and Rose streets through the online reporting tool.
After selecting Ivy Street, I was prompted to a page to fill in more information. It’s mandatory to post nearest house number, cross street, location (is it on a corner, on a private residence, ect…) and type of problem (light out, continuously on, damaged, ect...). It’s optional to add your contact information so CL&P can reach out if they have difficulties finding the light in question. I also selected a request to have the issue resolution e-mailed to me but was never asked for my e-mail address! Oops CL&P. Here’s the tracking number if you want to help me look after this request (1810806). The clock is ticking…
*When using the online tool to report outages be sure to note that the tool does not work in the internet browser FireFox. I had success with Google Chrome (after two tries).
Have you ever reported a light out and found that crews replaced it?