Smart meter foes voice opinions at hearing
By Susan Frick Carlman email@example.com March 19, 2013 5:46PM
Updated: April 21, 2013 6:32AM
Tuesday’s conclusion of a two-part public hearing focused on proposed federal energy guidelines drew testimony from nearly a dozen Naperville residents.
Although the session provided a forum for input on nationwide standards involving eight varied topics, the 11 speakers all confined their comments to their objections to just one of them: smart meters — specifically, those newly installed citywide.
Offering commentary that was at times emotional, the opponents outlined concerns over anticipated loss of privacy and security and the belief that the wireless transmitting devices would endanger their health. Several read passages from research alleging dangers from the wireless technology used in the metering system the city recently put into place in some 57,000 homes and businesses as part of the Naperville Smart Grid Initiative.
The issues have been raised repeatedly over the 3 1/2 years since the initiative was launched, but opposition to the project has gained volume since the Naperville Smart Meter Awareness opposition group was formed nearly two years ago. The group, which tried unsuccessfully to place an advisory referendum addressing the matter on the April 9 ballot, has encouraged opponents of the project to speak out at public meetings.
“What they’re allowing government to do is take our homes, our privacy and our family security away from us for their own purposes,” said Sandy Glass, one of several who objected at the six-hour hearing. “They’re not paying for our homes, they aren’t paying for our appliances, they aren’t paying for our property taxes, they aren’t paying for our health.”
Glass asserted that the smart grid technology will enable the city-run utility to shut down residents’ appliances, using the time-of-use data collected through the wireless meters.
Speaker Laura Winclechter characterized as “false” the research that has concluded exposure to electromagnetic radiation at the level emitted by the smart meters does not pose an elevated cancer risk. Winclechter questioned the methodology of the studies and asserted they were funded with industry money.
Administered by hearing officer Jill Wilger, a member of the city’s legal department, the hearing included no response from the city, and no action was taken. Transcripts from the two sessions will be provided to the City Council before it votes on which of the guidelines it will adopt.
Of the nine discretionary federal standards proposed, utility staff recommend adopting four and waiving the other five, in most cases because the city already has comparable standards in place. The recommendations and background information can be viewed at www.naperville.il.us/emplibrary/DPUE-ReviewofFederalStandards.pdf.
Planned for implementation over a 10- to 15-year time frame, the smart grid project was accelerated when Naperville won $11 million in matching stimulus funds, channeled through the Department of Energy, early in 2010.
Among the stipulations of the grant award was that the system be installed within three years.