NBC Connecticut Responds helped a Brooklyn, Conn. woman get a $1,699.26 reimbursement from Eversource after she realized she paid to power a public street lamp for 14 years.
Susan Strouse has driven past the lamp thousands of times, but never knew she was the one keeping the light on. After all, it’s located across the street, on town property.
“I was shocked when I found this out,” said Strouse.
She says her old electric supplier notified her of the charge back in May, as she switched providers. She called Eversource right away, and a representative confirmed the charge, asking Strouse if she requested a street lamp. She did not—the light was installed in the 1960s, before Strouse moved in.
Strouse then reached out to NBC Connecticut Responds and the state’s public utility regulators, PURA.
Together, we found Eversource started billing Strouse for the street lamp in 2002, after an audit revealed no one had paid for the lamp’s electricity since its installation.
It’s likely the previous, now deceased homeowner requested the lamp and the former Connecticut Light & Power never initiated the payment.
Page two on Strouse’s statement shows a separate section regarding a lamp, followed by various rates and usage remarks. Had she taken a closer look, Strouse would see this charge adds more than 10 dollars to her bill every month.
“I guess I should have [looked at that section],” said Strouse. “But even the way it was worded, it wouldn’t have meant anything to me. I would’ve just thought it was some weird technical term they used.”
A spokesperson for Eversource told NBC Connecticut they sent Strouse a letter explaining what she was paying for, but due to customer confidentiality, they could not elaborate further.
Strouse says she never received a letter.
“I don’t know if it was addressed to me, if it was mass-mailing, but if it was mass-mailing talking about paying for street lights, I wouldn’t have thought it concerned me because it’s not on my property,” said Strouse.
Eversource reimbursed Strouse shortly after PURA and NBC Connecticut Responds started asking questions.
The Town of Brooklyn hasn’t yet decided what they’ll do with the street lamp.
The Board of Selectmen will vote on whether they want to take over the payments for it or shut it off completely.