In a first step to address "chronic" power outages in neighborhoods along Newburg Road, the Lower Nazareth Board of Supervisors on Wednesday voted to send a letter of complaint to PPL Electric Utilities.
Chairman Eric Nagle abstained from voting, recusing himself because he is employed by PPL. He also chose not to take part in the discussion.
Charles Young, who lives on the 400 block of Heritage Lane, told the board about what he called “chronic” power outages along Newburg Road, noting that his neighborhood and a few others seem to suffer outages more often and for longer periods of time than nearby communities.
To add insult to injury, while enduring heatwaves and throwing away spoiled food from warm refrigerators, Young said he and his neighbors are keenly aware that the power outages don’t seem to be impacting everyone.
“If you look down the street from my house, you can see lights in other communities," Young said, adding that local businesses are also impacted by the outages, including The Newburg Inn and Lafayette Ambassador Bank.
Supervisor Robert Kucsan said he feels for Young. He was also without power -- for 48 hours -- this past weekend.
Kucsan added that, like Young, he too has noticed during outages that others seem to have power while his home on Newburg Road is dark.
“I can see lights across the field," Kucsan shared.
Supervisor Martin Boucher said that while scattered thunderstorms may be to blame in some cases, aging underground lines may also be at fault.
"[PPL] replaced a lot of [underground lines] in the area," Boucher said, adding that lines were replaced along Manor Drive, which intersects Heritage. "And they are currently doing things near Georgetown Road."
The problem, however, goes beyond residential neighborhoods, according to Young. Busy intersections, like Newburg Road and Nazareth Pike (Route 191), are left without working traffic lights.
Young pointed out that this is an issue of safety and asked, “What are you doing to address this situation?”
Township manager Timm Tenges responded to Young’s concerns, explaining that when traffic lights are not working, fire police from Hecktown Volunteer Fire Co. No. 1 install temporary stop signs.
Young pressed the township manager for more, stressing the importance of safety at major intersections -- like Newburg and Route 191 -- where drivers' line of sight is hindered by buildings and other factors.
“They’re all important,” Tenges said of the township's intersections, which include the section of Route 248 along the Northampton Crossings shopping center and Lower Nazareth Commons Plaza.
According to Tenges, the township's newer stoplights are equiped with backup batteries. Some stoplights can also be hooked up to a generator.
For older models, Tenges hinted that there is the possibility for upgrades -- if the township were to be awarded a grant. He said the board would be kept in the loop if and when the grant opportunity becomes available.