Michigan Town Shuts Down Street Lights to Settle Unpaid Bills

Thursday, October 13, 2011
After not paying its utility bill in full for five years, the struggling city of Highland Park, Michigan (population: 11,776), is so bad off that it is tearing out the majority of its street lights—and in the process exposing its residents to a heightened risk of crime.
Highland Park officials decided on the drastic move as part of a settlement with utility provider DTE, which is owed $4 million by the city.
About 1,400 streetlights have been removed, leaving 500 scattered around the city. Some corners received new streetlights to help offset the change. But officials admit most neighborhoods will be in the dark at night.
That fact has many residents and business owners worried. They’re concerned criminals will take advantage of the lack of illumination.
Bobby Hargrove, owner of Hargrove Machinery Sales, told the Detroit News that someone stole the air conditioning unit off his roof after the city removed the light outside his business. “I feel like I’m being punished—I’ve always paid my bills on time, but they took the street light anyway.”
A school board official reported criminals broke into three area schools right after the light poles disappeared.
Highland Park Mayor Hubert Yopp dismissed citizen concerns, stating that 90% of burglaries in the town take place during the daytime when residents are away at work.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
DTE Deal Pulls Out Lights in Highland Park (by George Hunter, The Detroit News)

Majority of Highland Park's Streetlights Removed as City Struggles with Monthly Energy Bill (by Tammy Stables Battaglia, Detroit Free Press) 


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