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15% of town's streetlights going off; Residents can pay to restore service.

Byline: Linda Bock

NORTHBRIDGE - The last time streetlights in town were shut off because of budget deficits was almost 20 years ago. Budget woes have hit hard again this year and the town plans to turn off of more than 15 percent of its streetlights.

The town pays to light more than 1,100 streetlights, and officials plan to turn off 184 of them. Richard R. Sasseville, director of Department of Public Works, said they fall outside the safety criteria established by the Board of Selectmen. A complete list of the streetlights has been posted on the town's Web site at www.northbridgemass.org.

Mr. Sasseville said residents who wish to assume the cost of one or more of these streetlights may establish a private streetlight account with National Grid. They should also contact the DPW as soon as possible and no later than Aug. 13, when the lights are to be turned off.

"We wanted to do this as a courtesy to residents," Mr. Sasseville said. "If they want to keep their streetlight on, they have the right to enter into an agreement with National Grid."

The cost of keeping streetlights on ranges between $8 and $10 a month, with the cost slightly higher in the winter. Mr. Sasseville said the rate structure is provided for in the town's contract with National Grid, which has been approved by the state.

David Graves, spokesman for National Grid, said, "There have been incidents in other towns turning off streetlights, and all customers have the opportunity to rent a streetlight, or to have a streetlight installed."

Mr. Graves said National Grid's arrangements with individual communities vary, and there are a variety of contractual arrangements possible.

Information on establishing a private streetlight account with National Grid has also been posted on the Web site. As required in the electric rates, each customer agreeing to assume the cost of a Northbridge streetlight must submit the request in writing to National Grid. Included in that letter must be the street name and pole number, and any other identifying information. The form is available on the town's Web site.

Requests for private accounts should be submitted as soon as possible, before the lights are turned off to avoid a $25 reactivation fee.

For additional information, call the Northbridge DPW at (508) 234-3581.

ART: PHOTO

CUTLINE: Massachusetts Electric Co., or MECO, pole numbers can be used by residents to identify streetlights they wish to pay for. The number is on a metal tag on the street side of the pole, with the letters "MECO" on the pole above it. Poles are usually numbered in sequence, which is helpful to know if a number is missing.
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Title Annotation:LOCAL NEWS
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Jul 27, 2007
Words:448
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