Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Somerville Calls on Residents to Report Non-Working Streetlights

Big changes are coming to the City’s streetlights, but we really need your help first. To save on costs, in early 2012, the City will purchase all 4,006 streetlights in Somerville that are currently owned by NSTAR. We estimate that simply assuming ownership of the lights will save us approximately $370,000 per year in maintenance costs. But we also plan to convert the existing sodium lightbulbs to energy-efficient LED lightbulbs. Once the City switches the streetlights over to LED bulbs, the cost savings will increase and we expect significant energy savings as well.

But before we buy, we need the lights fixed—and that's where you come in. 

Please comb your streets for non-working lights, check for the nearest address to the light or the pole number (instructions below), and then report all non-working lights (such as, broken lights, dead bulbs, or flickering lights) to NSTAR. You may report to NSTAR either by calling 800-785-4837 or filling our their online streetlight repair form at http://ow.ly/7BScV.

Then (and this is important) please ALSO call 311 or message them via Twitter (@311somerville) or Facebook (www.facebook.com/311Somerville) so that the City can also track which streetlights you report and follow up to check if NSTAR made the repairs. 

So again, we need you to take these three simple steps, sooner rather than later (before the end of the year):
  1. Look for non-working streetlights
  2. Report them to NSTAR to request a repair
  3. Contact 311 to tell us which lights you reported
How to Find the Pole Number of a Streetlight
When noting the location of a streetlight, you may either report the nearest street address, or you can check the streetlight pole number. To find the pole number, look at the pole at about head level. There should be a metal number nailed to wooden poles or reflective number stickers on concrete poles (some, however, may be missing).

To the right are examples of what the pole number for a streetlight looks like.

Streetlight photo courtesy of Dennis Yang, pole photos courtesy of NSTAR.


  1. If a broken streetlight is missing its number, is 311 the place to call to find out the pole's number?

  2. First, thanks for reporting damaged lights! If a pole is missing its number, you can do two things: you can report the light simply using the closest street address or if you like you can also check the next poles closest to the unnumbered pole. The poles are usually (but not always) numbered consecutively, so if you tell NSTAR it's between poles 9 and 11 on a particular street, they'll know it's pole number 10 or they will be able to see that it's a poll with another out-of-sequence number that is positioned between those poles.

  3. Hi. Why are these two comments not shown in the right column under 'Recent Comments' ?

  4. Doesn't low pressure sodium offer up to 4 times the lumens per Watt compared to LED (200 lm/W vs. 50 lm/W)? See: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sodium-vapor_lamp

  5. Do you know of any street-side lights on private property that we shouldn't bother reporting?

  6. Thank you for this post, this answered all of my questions! I didn't want to report a flaky light unless I was sure a low-light-pollution lamp would be used, time to scour my neighborhood :)


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