Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Q&A: Why are lights left on in vacant buildings?

When President Richard Nixon was in office, the national debt was $358 billion, according to the Bureau of Public Debt. Today the national debt is $10.6 trillion.

Associated Press (1969)

When President Richard Nixon was in office, the national debt was $358 billion, according to the Bureau of Public Debt. Today the national debt is $10.6 trillion.

Lights on in empty buildings?

As companies go out of business or go bankrupt, how or why do they keep the electricity on in the buildings they stop using? Who is paying these electricity bills?

Many stores, vacant or not, leave lights on around the clock for safety reasons, particularly special emergency lights designed to illuminate an area if there's a fire.

Sometimes, the lights remain on to prevent crime and break-ins. And keeping lights on in, say, a shopping center or a mall, helps draw shoppers to neighboring stores. (A dimmed storefront can deter shoppers from venturing to a particular area, even if other shops are open.)

Other times, keeping lights on is akin to mounting a giant "For Rent" sign outside a store. That's because illuminating a site helps landlords promote the space to prospective tenants.

And in the case of a complicated bankruptcy or liquidation, sometimes the lights stay on simply because that's how they were left when the last employee walked out of the building and locked the door.

Most retailers lease their space, so a landlord typically foots the bill for the utility costs when no one is occupying the space.

Debt's growth since Nixon

What was the national debt when each president took office, starting with Richard Nixon? And what is the source?

The Bureau of Public Debt, under the authority of the U.S. Department of the Treasury, keeps monthly statements of public debt online dating to 1963. All these figures are as of the inauguration month of January, except for President Gerald Ford, who was inaugurated in August.

• President Richard Nixon, 1969: $358 billion

• President Gerald Ford, 1974: $481.7 billion

• President Jimmy Carter, 1977: $653.9 billion

• President Ronald Reagan, 1981: $934 billion

• President George H.W. Bush, 1989: $2.69 trillion

• President Bill Clinton, 1993: $4.16 trillion

• President George W. Bush, 2001: $5.7 trillion

• President Barack Obama, 2009: $10.6 trillion

Hawaiian musician identified

I recently watched a summer program called The Philanthropist and was impressed with the story line and the acting. Near the end of the episode Kosovo, a man sang Somewhere Over the Rainbow. His rendition blew me away. Could you identify the artist and tell me if he has a CD that includes the song?

That was the often-used rendition of the song by Hawaiian music legend Israel "Iz" Kamakawiwo'ole. Although Iz died a decade ago, his music lives on in many CDs, including Facing Future, with the song you are looking for.

Q&A: Why are lights left on in vacant buildings? 08/31/09 [Last modified: Monday, August 31, 2009 5:37pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Meet 'rave pops,' the EDM-loving, hard-dancing 72-year-old who went viral via the Sunset Music Festival (w/video)

    Music & Concerts

    Alan Grofé is a 72-year-old, semi-retired entrepreneur and former tech executive with frost-white hair, two grown children and five grandchildren.

    Alan Grofe dances at the Electric Daisy Carnival festival in Orlando in 2016. [aLIVE Coverage for Insomniac]
  2. Humana adding 200 telemarketing jobs in Tampa Bay

    Economic Development

    TAMPA — Health insurance company Humana Inc. is hiring more than 200 workers in Tampa Bay. The Louisville, Ky.-based company said Wednesday that the new positions will focus on phone sales for Humana's direct marketing services department.

    Humana is adding 200 positions to its Tampa office. Theo Sai, chief medical officer for seniro products at Humana, is pictured in the company's Tampa executive office in 2015. | Rachel Crosby, Times
  3. Congressman wants Trump to pay for Mar-a-Lago travel


    WASHINGTON -- This bill won’t go anywhere, but give Rep. Alcee Hastings creative points with the TRUMPED Act, aka Taxpayers Require Urgent Mandatory Protection from Egregious Debt Act of 2017:

  4. U.S. President Donald Trump and Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel walk together during arrival at Melsbroek Military Airport in Melsbroek, Belgium on Wednesday. US President Donald Trump is in Belgium to attend a NATO summit and to meet EU and Belgian officials. [AP photo]
  5. If Tony Dungy sticks around, he'll broadcast the 2021 Tampa Super Bowl for NBC


    Lost in the Super Tuesday news of the Super Bowl coming back to Tampa was this nugget:

    Pictured, from left, Dan Patrick, co-Host, Tony Dungy, studio analyst, Aaron Rodgers. [Ben Cohen/NBC]