History/Timeline

1870
Belmont enters into contract with the Arlington Gas Company to light its streets using gas and oil lamps.
1888
Somerville Electric Light Company proposes an extension of its lines into Belmont from Arlington. Belmont agrees, and by 1889 Somerville Electric Light Company begins wiring residences in the town.
1891
A new Massachusetts law authorizes cities and towns to buy existing electrical plants and transfer them from private to municipal ownership.
1892
Belmont signs a second three-year contract with Somerville Electric Light Company to provide electricity for 13 arc lamps and 135 incandescent street lights.
1896
Special town meeting votes 50 to one to purchase Somerville Electric Light Company property in Belmont. A second town meeting authorizes Selectmen to begin negotiations for purchasing the lighting system serving the town.
1898
The Town of Belmont and Somerville Electric Light Company execute a bill of sale for all poles and related fixtures and equipment. Adalbert Dailey, an employee of the electric company, was hired to manage the newly-acquired municipal distribution system. At this time there are 34 residential customers who paid 20 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) to light their 20, 24, or 32 candlepower Edison incandescent lights.
1900
Edwin P. "Ned" Taylor, Jr. becomes became Superintendent, leading the department for the next 38 years.
1902
Belmont Municipal Light Department (BMLD) signs a contract with Cambridge Electric Company for the purchase of electric power, which was previously supplied by Somerville Electric Light Company. An agreement is also made to share poles with New England Telephone and Telegraph Company. The bulk of power supplied to Belmont goes to street lighting, however BMLD continues to operate on a “moonlight schedule”-- on cloudless nights, street lights are not lit.
1910
BMLD grows to serve a total of 466 residential customers, 69 commercial customers, and 10 town buildings and departments. The number of streetlights in town doubles, from 158 to 338, in 1910. Rates begin to decline from 1910 to 1912, from 20 cents per kWh to 12 cents per kWh.
1911
Electric street car service from Cambridge and Somerville increases street traffic, and the Selectmen vote to leave street lights on until 1:30 a.m. everyday regardless of the weather.
1914
Selectmen vote to operate street lights all night during the summer months because of the foliage on the trees.
1916
BMLD upgrades its electric power facilities with construction of a three-phase trunt line with heavy copper wire from the meter house through School, Common, and Waverly streets. A new contract with Cambridge Electric lowers rates again and institutes a "utility" rate for cooking and use of appliances.
1919
A substation is constructed on White Street for street lighting transformers, allowing BMLD to turn the lights off and on from a central location. Before this time, a police officer would activate a part of the system in Harvard Lawn, then travel by street car to Waverly to turn on the remaining 675 street lights.
1925
Construction of a substation on Concord Avenue behind the old Adams Store is completed. The town of Belmont purchases the store, which had been a landmark for 60 years, to house the light department.
1933
The town applies for a Public Works Administration (PWA) grant of $16,000 and begins construction of a brick-and-steel, two-story light department office adjacent to the substation.
1934
Dedication of the new BMLD office coincides with the Superintendent Taylor's 70th birthday on August 8, 1934.
1938
Chester L. Howe is named as Acting Manager of BMLD. He is named Superintendent in 1939.
1939
BMLD upgrades its system, including the undergrounding of wires in the Cushing Square and Belmont Center area.
1940
BMLD installs a remote relay system.
1941
War is declared and BMLD begins to institute blackouts and dim-outs. All line extensions are stopped after the War Production Board embargoes materials such as copper.
1950
BMLD installs additional transformers at the substation to handle the load created by the Hittenger and Shaw Estates developments.
1953
Installation of a new primary 2300-volt cable to upgrade the Concord Avenue system from Pleasant to Winter Street is completed.
1954
The BMLD customer base now totals nearly 8,850 customers. A survey verifies that all Belmont homes have electricity. Chester Howe retires as department manager and is replaced by Howard C. Kramer.
1965
Charles Campbell becomes BMLD’s fifth general manager. BMLD continues to strengthen its underground and overhead distribution system.
1973
Power costs begin to escalate, due in part to the Arab oil embargo of 1973 and double-digit inflation. Cambridge Electric files for an increase in 1973 that would raise power costs by 18%; Belmont successfully fights the increase with the Federal Power Commission and is granted a five-month reprieve.
1974
Power supply costs continue to increase from 1974 to 1979, however conservation programs reduce consumption over the same period, and BMLD rates remain 27% to 30% below those paid by customers of privately owned electric utilities.
1978
Joseph Mannix becomes General Manager of BMLD.
1980
Throughout the 1980s, power supply costs and peak demand stabilize, in turn stabilizing electric rates.
1983
BMLD announces Ken Conroy as General Manager.
1988
Belmont purchases 111,423,360 kWh from Cambridge Electric for its 10,545 customers.
1994
Tim McCarthy becomes General Manager of BMLD.
1995
Belmont begins an ambitious program to connect town buildings using fiber optic technology.
2001
BMLD moves its operation to 40 Prince Street in Belmont.
2004
BMLD purchases its first hybrid vehicle.
2010
Jim Palmer is announced as General Manager of BMLD.
2012
Construction of a new substation is approved by the town.
2013
BMLD is renamed Belmont Light and launches new website.