Municipal Light Department

  • Municipal Light Department
  • "The Wakefield Municipal Light Department, as it is known today, was formed as a result of a vote of Wakefield citizens at the Annual Town Meeting on August 1, 1894. Because of their dissatisfaction with the Citizens' Gas & Light Company of Reading, South Reading and Stoneham, the citizens voted to purchase the plant, land and all the manufacturing equipment of the firm at a cost of $180,000. At the time of its founding, 18 people were employed by the MLD and the three member Board required to oversee the operation was established. The MLD's progress continued throughout the next three decades and in 1923, an influx of 446 customers brought the total number of electric meters in town to 2,800, compared to the 10,000 meters in use today. Prior to the 1950s, electric current was only generated during the evening hours and the only appliances used in homes throughout the town were irons and fans. Streetlights were extinguished each night at 1 a.m. due primarily to the cost of generating electricity. The MLD, at the time, paid 1.9 cents per kilowatt hour, it was delivered at a cost of 5.6 cents and sold to the customer at 12 cents. But progress soon came to town and Wakefield became the first suburban community in New England to leave its lights on throughout the night. In the mid-1960s there were 8,533 electric meters in use. The cost of generating the electricity was considerably lower than the pre-1950 prices: the electricity cost the MLD 1.23 cents, it was delivered at a cost of 2.1 cents, and sold to the customer at 2.3 cents with a low step residential rate of 1.4 cents (net). Today, 54 men and women are employed by the MLD." -- Text from calendar.;Captions: 1. Christmas lights adorn downtown Wakefield in 1940. -- 2. The Wakefield MLD crew, 1920.
  • Image from the Wakefield Municipal Gas and Light Department annual calendar, 1987
  • [Wakefield, Mass.] : Wakefield Municipal Gas & Light Department


“Municipal Light Department,” NOBLE Digital Heritage, accessed September 27, 2020,


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