Shedding some light on city outages


Terre Haute’s street lighting system is dated and according to officials that makes repairs harder and more time consuming.

Wednesday night we counted close to 50 lights out from I-70 northbound to Maple Avenue. Regardless the lights that are on date back to the early 80s according to city engineer Chuck Ennis. Needless to say, things aren’t too bright. But officials say in the upcoming years there are plans for a much needed upgrade.

“Right now we’re running at getting these lights done in 3 days or less,” Rick Burger, community relations manager for Duke Energy said.

Burger says if you report a street light out, Duke Energy will replace the light in just a few days. However officials say repairs took around a month for a long strip or bank of lights from Hulman to Wabash on 41 last month.

“There was a variety of things, there was some wiring issues, there were controller issues. They had to get these parts to come in to fix big banks of that which is a little bit different than just one light out,” Mayor Bennett says.

He also says there was also an area out on the east side of town.

“Cause I saw it myself and reported them and what we found is nobody else had called them in.”

Both the mayor and Burger say the city isn’t aware of outages until people report them. All of the street lights with this yellow caution tape tied around the pole have been noted by duke energy and await repair.

“You know, as the city’s paying for those lights, we need to be sure that we’re providing that service, but we don’t know when those lights are out until that customer would let the mayor’s office know or let us know online,” Burger said.

The city pays just over 500 thousand dollar each year for the lights. They lease around 37 hundred street lights from Duke Energy and pay for electricity for the city owned, ornamental lights which you can find from the courthouse down Wabash Avenue.

Back to Third Street, Gabriel Casas lives at the University Apartments at Farrington and 41. He says with tinted car windows it makes driving at night even harder to see.

“Just the weather’s unpredictable and there’s people walking all the time, so just gotta be careful,” Cases said.

Lights out or not, it’s pretty dim along Third Street at night which is what you can expect with lights dating back almost 40 years. And that’s the difference the city and duke energy plan to make in the next couple of years.

Discussion is underway to replace all the street lights with led bulbs and even new poles, but officials don’t know how much that will cost just yet, they just say it will be significant.

Until then, what we see is what we get, but the mayor says the parts used to maintain those lights will soon be unavailable.

“They tell me all the time we just can’t get these pieces or those part, controllers or fuses, all the different things that run the system are more difficult to find so at some point we’ll have to do the upgrade because we’ll be faced with unable to repair old things,” Mayor Bennett said.

Duke Energy started inventory in January to count all the lights in the city and note which need repair.

Burger says that should take about 4 months. And Mayor Bennett says in about two months new poles and LED lights will be added to Margaret Avenue so the city can see what will be in store in the next couple of years.

For more information on repairs click here.

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