Smart meter opponents disrupt council meeting
By Susan Frick Carlman email@example.com February 6, 2013 1:58PM
An old electric meter is compared to the new Smart Grid meter which will be placed at homes around Naperville. Courtesy of city of Naperville
Updated: March 10, 2013 6:07AM
Foes of Naperville’s nearly complete Smart Grid Initiative this week again weighed in with their opposition to the project, many of them homing in on the recent arrests of two leaders of the organization that has been rallying the resistance.
Several dozen anti-smart meter audience members turned out for the City Council meeting Tuesday night, some carting signs underscoring their discontent. They chided officials for their support of the endeavor, part of a nationwide shift to electrical delivery networks that use computer-derived technologies featuring remote repair, automatic monitoring of power use and other amenities.
The objectors at times were highly vocal, calling for the ouster of administrators, public safety leaders and office holders, and at one point prompting Mayor A. George Pradel to order a recess after audience members neglected to heed his mention that cheering, applauding and booing are forbidden during the public comment period.
“Those are our rules, and we will abide by them,” Pradel said.
The opponents represented an unlikely alliance. Organizations that had members come out and demonstrate their aversion to the project included the local chapter of the Holistic Moms Network and the Homer/Lockport Tea Party. Numerous other objectors came in from outside the city as well.
Several of the speakers who addressed the council condemned the misdemeanor charges filed Jan. 23 against Malia “Kim” Bendis, 40, president of Naperville Smart Meter Awareness, and Jennifer Stahl, 40, the group’s secretary.
Bendis, who faces charges of attempted eavesdropping without consent and resisting or obstructing a police officer, is due back in court Feb. 26. Stahl is charged with interfering with a city officer or employee and her next court date is Feb. 20.
The pair were charged at Stahl’s house, where they had summoned local media, after installers attempted to replace the city-owned analog electric meter with the wireless version that is part of the smart grid network. Crews have replaced more than 57,000 of the meters citywide so far.
City Manager Doug Krieger, targeted by many of the critics’ comments, noted that he put a message about the subject to the utility’s customers on the city website.
“I think it will help you better understand the city’s commitment to the Smart Grid Initiative,” Krieger said.
Some speakers vowed to campaign for two smart meter opponents who are among the dozen candidates vying for four City Council seats to be filled by voters in the consolidated election April 9.
Both of them addressed the Council. Jo Malik called the city’s actions a “flagrant abuse of power” and condemned the current council members.Tom Glass, also a candidate, slammed Bendis’ and Stahl’s arrests as well.
Also approaching the podium was candidate John Krummen, who said he supports smart grid technology for its benefit to the economy and does not place credence in opponents’ claims that smart meters pose a health risk.
“There should always be an opposition party. Always,” Krummen said. “But there should never be an obstinate party.”