Hearing: protestors talk, attorney stifled
By TIM WEST email@example.com March 7, 2013 8:12PM
Updated: April 9, 2013 11:10AM
One of the good things that the city of Naperville does is to show its various meetings on cable television via its government access channel.
One of the bad things that the city of Naperville does is to show its various meetings on cable television via its government access channel.
Good or bad pretty much depends on how interesting individual residents find this stuff.
I’m all for televising the City Council and the Planning and Zoning Commission because these tend to be the most important and I think residents should watch these so they know what is going on in Naperville — at least from the city’s perspective.
I’m pretty faithful about watching the council and the commission, even if I’m not going to be using what happens at the meeting as fodder for a column.
But it was only because of the everlasting flap some people have raised about smart meters and the smart grid caused me to spend some three hours Monday afternoon watching the pro forma electric utility public hearing on federal standards established by the Public Utility Regulatory Policy Act of 1978 as amended by the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, a topic as dry as the name of the act.
This is where I should dig out the shopworn line about how I watched this so you didn’t have to, but truth be told if more than a handful of you gave a rat’s fanny about the hearing I’d be surprised.
At least that would be my impression, judging from the few people in the audience and they were primarily from the group that opposes the smart meter.
The substance of the hearing, and the purpose of it, was for the city to answer about a billion questions relating to its utility practices.
Coming from the feds, it was an odd format, with one city staff member reading the questions, while Mark Curran, the city’s director of public utilities-electric, reading the city’s answers.
I’m not going to deal with the Q and A here. Check the city’s website for the nitty gritty on this.
Fortunately, for my sanity, there were a few lively moments, which came from the attorney for Naperville Smart Meter Awareness.
Jill Wilger from the city’s legal staff, serving as hearing officer, fended off the continuing objections of Doug Ibendahl, the NSMA lawyer, who by the way is the same guy who is fighting to keep the Yes At Large group from trying to get a referendum on the ballot to overturn the move to wards.
He was there to try to intervene — i.e. put forth objections — in the hearing on behalf of the NSMA, but was told, essentially, the group has no standing.
According to the obscure rationale for intervening, one either needed to be the secretary of commerce, representing another utility whose business interests might be harmed, or a customer of the utility to be able to participate.
Ibendahl tried to make the argument that NSMA is a customer of the utility, but unless it has an electrified treehouse somewhere we don’t know about that is not the case. The residents behind NSMA are customers in their individual homes, but NSMA itself is not.
He interrupted the hearing officer a lot, but Wilger did a good job of keeping order.
As for the speakers from the public, there were only four.
My favorite complained because there were no council members there.
Actually this was a public hearing so one wouldn’t necessarily expect councilmen there anyway.
With all the protests over the smart meters, albeit by the same people pretty much all the time, maybe the council felt it didn’t need to hear a handful of protestors air their arguments yet one more time.
I know that’s the way I felt.
The hearing will continue on March 19.