ASK ELi: Streetlights Out?

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Friday, August 28, 2015, 12:30 am
Alice Dreger

A reader asked us to find out: “What is the appropriate way to report street lights that are not working in East Lansing? On Spartan, between Albert and Synder there are 3-4 lights (all along the two block section) that are not working. What is the city doing about keeping streetlights working? How do street lights play into city's effort to keep residents safe in light of the recent break-ins?”

Who maintains the streetlights in East Lansing?

Streetlights are owned and maintained by the two companies that provide electricity in East Lansing: Consumers Energy (CE) and the Lansing Board of Water and Light (LBWL). The City of East Lansing does not have an organized system for checking streetlights, so it is up to East Lansing residents to alert CE or LBWL when they see a streetlight that needs maintenance.

Which company should you call?

According to Steven Roach, Design Engineer for East Lansing’s Department of Public Works (DPW), “The maps on file indicate that the LBWL maintains areas north of Grand River and Michigan Ave., CE to the south of these streets.”

If you’re dealing with a CE streetlight problem, you can go to their website and file the report online. Their system even allows you to check in on handling of your report.

With LBWL, you have to call in to (877) 295-5001. Alternatively, you can email a problem to

You can also call the City’s DPW:

Roach says, “In either case [CE or LBWL], the public can also call the [East Lansing] DPW and report the area where a light or lights may be out and we will be sure to contact the appropriate agency. The City does not maintain the street lighting so we would simply ask that if someone does call our office, that they provide a location.”

You can reach East Lansing’s DPW at (517) 337-9459 during normal business hours, and for emergencies, dial (517) 351-4220 and choose option 1.

Traffic lights are a different issue:

Just to be clear, by “streetlights,” we mean the lights along the sides of roads meant to light roads and sidewalks. These are not the same as traffic lights; if you know of a traffic light malfunctioning, you should immediately dial 911 and report it.


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