image description
National Grid's David LaPlante, left, Joanne DeRose and Robert Ide address the Selectmen on Wednesday night. The utility had tracked the flickering light problem to a customer in North Adams, they said.

Adams, Cheshire's Flickering Lights Mystery Solved

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
Print Story | Email Story

Some lights in Town Hall had been strobing so much they have been shut off for weeks now. 
ADAMS, Mass. — The mystery of the flickering lights that have annoyed residents in Adams and Cheshire over the past weeks has been solved — if not completely resolved.  
Joanne DeRose, director of community and customer management for National Grid, told the Selectmen on Wednesday that the problems had been tracked to one "very large" customer in North Adams affecting others "downriver."
"I don't wanna get too technical, but there are things we call harmonics for those who are familiar with electricity and typically we like our electricity to be a nice even wave and what they're putting out into the system is like that, right?" she said, moving her hand in an rolling up and down motion. 
DeRose did not wish to identify the customer but said it did not appear to be purposeful and that "they're doing everything possible to alleviate that, they're working with us."
The Selectmen two weeks ago had requested the utility appear before the board after receiving numerous complaints over flickering lights, including in Town Hall. 
(iBerkshires had contacted National Grid on March 5 and was told it was working "to implement a solution.")
Robert Ide, also from National Grid's community management office, said the utility had also become aware of the problem when customers started calling in and at first thought they were isolated incidents. The electrical company tried switching line feeds without success. 
"But what it did do is it allowed us to identify our scope of area search. So we were able to identify that the source of the problem was coming from the Route 8 corridor and we furthered our investigation," said Ide. "We kind of pinned down it could be one of the few customers that we have in the area. So we put up what was called a recording meter at the location identified and that the customer was the key point for that." 
The customer had added on equipment and increased its load, which it had the capacity to do. DeRose said there were internal fixes that it was working on to reduce the disruption but that National Grid had not been inside to look at its equipment and was not overseeing the work.
Selectman Howard Rosenberg, an engineer, said he assumed there were filters on the higher-distribution equipment to shield other customers. 
"That's what I find is really interesting is that one customer can affect so many different people," he said.
The affects of the harmonic disruption, or "dirty power," has been intermittent and erratic in terms of times and areas affected. One customer who attended the meeting said her house had been "like a disco" the other morning while her neighbor's had not. 
Field engineer David LaPlante said the LED, or light-emitting diodes, used for bulbs are particularly sensitive to voltage fluctuations. Where incandescent light bulbs have electric current heating a filament, LEDs have a semi conductor.
"Semiconductors have a certain pass region where once you hit a certain voltage threshold, they turn off," he said. "Flickering a lot of times with LEDs can occur when that voltage threshold either drops or when you have 'dirty power' per se ...
"Especially if they're cheaper LEDs, they might not have a strong tolerance to fluctuations and therefore my flicker in the process."
Rosenberg responded that "it means also that the power company has to focus more on supplying clean power. There has to be your clean power delivered to our homes."
 "Yeah, it's changing the topology of our system and we have strategies to mitigate and reduce the situations," said LaPlante. "As we start to understand it more we're developing better practices around it associated with standards and associated with best practice for utilities."
 Selectman Joseph Nowak pointed out that a number of residents had called in electricians believing there was something wrong in their homes.
"I'm not sure how many people are saddled with a bill from an electrician because they, you know when you start seeing your lights flickering, and its just illusions of a fire or a short or something like that. So that was my main concern about this," he said.
Several other customers in attendance expressed their own concerns and complaints and what they felt was a lack of response and communication. 
DeRose said National Grid has a claims department that customers can file online here or contact or by calling 315-428-6536.
She also said customers should continue to report any flickering because it may or may not be related this particular issue.
The Selectmen pressed the utility representatives on when the problem would be resolved and what leverage the it had to ensure the customer completed with work in a reasonable timeframe.  
"Over the next few weeks, there may be again, depending on what the ultimate fixes and what needs to actually happen," DeRose said. "I can't give you a definite timeline at this point, but we are urging that this needs to be fixed as soon as possible."
When pushed on a timeframe, she said the utility did have the ability to disconnect. 
"We don't want to do that, obviously there are jobs and everything at stake," she said. "We're working as hard as we can with that. But there will be a timeline and there will be a definite ... so we just don't have that information right now."

Tags: electricity,   National Grid,   

If you would like to contribute information on this article, contact us at

BArT Announces Third Quarter Honor Roll

ADAMS, Mass. — Berkshire Arts & Technology (BArT) Charter Public School has announced the students who made the honor roll for the third quarter of the 2023-2024 school year. 
Students who earned 80 percent or above in all of their classes received the distinction of "Honors." Students who earned 90 percent or above in all of their classes received the distinction of "High Honors."
Academic courses at BArT are aligned with the Massachusetts State Curriculum Frameworks for the appropriate grade level and include all standards deemed necessary for a complete, college-preparatory, middle and high school education.
Students in Grade 6 who earned High Honors are Abigail Betti, Jaydn Bolus-Strawbridge, Majbrit Carpenter, Bailee Cimini, Kason Corkins, Alex Demary, Norah Duffy, Noah Hall, Riley Hitchcock, Kourtney Hoang, Tristan Larkin, Delroy Leard, Morgan Legrand, Ian Lloyd, Allanah McCabe, Dante McClerklin, Joey Nocher, Stephen Nyamehen, Cooper Olimpo, Gustavo Perez, Rufus Quirke de Jong, Isabella Rosales, Armani Roy, Niyah Scipio, Emma Sherman, Isabella Silva, Paige Tetreault, and Kevin Toomey.
Students in Grade 6 who earned Honors are Daniel Aguilar, Liam Connors, Audrey Costigan, Zoey Dudek-Linnehan, David Fernandez, Mason Goodermote, Harmony Greco-Melendez, Sakora Knight, Anelia Lang, Miah Morgan-Enos, Aiyanah Roy, Maxwell Stolzberg, and Patrick Wells Vidal.
Students in Grade 7 who earned High Honors are Mary Mame Akua Asare, Paige Bartlett, Madalyn Benson, Demitri Burnham, Anastasia Carty, Vincente Choque, McKenna Cramer, Kierra Dearstyne, Deandra Hage, Ashley Heck, Callie Meyette, Quinlan Nesbit, Hadley Richard, Jayden Ruopp, Kie Sherman, Gabriel Thomas, Edrisa Touray, and Tyler Williams.
Students in Grade 7 who earned Honors are Samuel Bellows, Joshua Codding, Addison Cooper, Ava DeVylder, Wyatt Drosehn, Emil Gehlot, Roger LaRocca, Hadley Madole, Maddison Moore, Alexis Munson, Leafy Murphy, Chris-Raphael Natama, Anthony Salta, Althea Schneider, Aiden Smith, Jaden Wells-Vidal, Kyler Wick, and Mckenzie Witto.
View Full Story

More Adams Stories