Earlier this month the City of Naperville began installing smart meters on homes across town, modernizing the electric grid. One group has been very vocal in their criticism of the project over the last few months and have even filed several lawsuits.
Last year, a group of Naperville residents found they shared similar interests, issues with the city’s new smart meters. They banded together, starting a grassroots effort they named Naperville Smart Meter Awareness.
“We’re all regular residents who are comprised of really professions all across the board, engineers, attorneys, medical professionals, you know, moms and dads,” said Kim Bendis, President of Naperville Smart Meter Awareness. “We really are just a composite group that are representative of your average, Naperville family.
Each of the residents had their own concerns over the smart meters. From finances and billing, to privacy and security. From health, to property damage risks. And as they did research, their worries grew.
“Professionals in those fields that say these are risks and we want to share it with our community so they can say they’re really informed,” said Bendis.
The group spoke out at council meetings, and were even forcibly removed at one. At that point, they had a new group of concerns.
“Security and health are what brought me into the debate,” said Lisa Rooney, Board Member of Naperville Smart Meter Awareness. “What has kept me in the debate has been a lot more to do with freedom of choice and the constitutional issues.”
“This was never created to be an adversarial position, or take an adversarial position against our city,” said Bendis. “We all love our city.”
But they fear the officials in the city they love haven’t obeyed the law. They’ve filed a request for review with Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office to look into Open Meetings Act violations.
“These laws are put in place to protect us from meetings being held in secret locations and secret places that people don’t have an opportunity to voice their opinion on, which was the case,” said Tom Glass, Board Member for Naperville Smart Meter Awareness.
They’re also working on adding a referendum question to the March 20, 2012 primary ballot, asking Naperville residents if they want the project stopped.
“When your government says no repeatedly and is not willing to come to the table and come up with reasonable alternatives, we felt like we were left with no choice,” said Rooney.
Resident Bill Dawe challenged their petition, and the Naperville Municipal Officers Electoral Board ruled against the organization, saying they did not have enough signatures belonging to registered voters. They’re appealing the decision in DuPage County Circuit Court.
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