PA turns lights out to protest proposed power lines

Homes in Clifton, Big Bass Lake, Thornhurst and surrounding areas will turn their lights off this evening to show their opposition to proposed power lines being built on their properties.

Part of a weekend of protesting PPL’s plans to build 57 miles of power lines through parts of Luzerne, Lackawanna and Wayne counties, groups of citizens will begin this evening holding “power down Fridays.”

Frances Page, a Thornhurst Township resident and an organizer of the grass-roots effort to change the route of the proposed power line, encourages people in affected areas to cut back on electricity from 6 to 10 p.m.

“We know we’re not shutting down the grid or lowering anybody’s bills,” Page said. “But the message will be heard.”

Their message: Residents don’t want invasive, 145-feet-tall steel poles and power lines on their property, disrupting the surrounding natural environment.

Also part of the weekend’s protest, the group on Saturday will drive the distance of the proposed power line and on Sunday lead hikes and walks of nature areas affected by it.

PPL spokesman Paul Wirth said every time new power lines are proposed, the company must find a delicate balance between providing more reliable electric power service and limiting impact on landowners and the environment.

“As a practical matter, there’s no perfect route for a power line,” Wirth said. “We understand people are concerned both about it being too close to residences and environmental impact.”

PPL officials say the proposed power line route strikes that balance. However, the citizens’ group has a proposed alternative route that organizers say would avoid more private homes, putting the lines on state-owned land and avoid environmental concerns.

PPL will file its plan with the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission by the end of the year. Afterward, Wirth said, PUC’s approval process will likely take more than a year and includes opportunities for public comment.

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