Is the Smart Grid really smart?

The Tuesday February 15th City Council meeting had some interesting moments including Councilman Boyajian thinking it was Roll Call, when in fact his name was called for a vote. Another Boyajian moment came when he did a quick beat down on a city staff member by saying, “You really screwed up”. Even better than that was when Councilman Furstenau said he drove by Scott Huber’s tent on Ogden and mentioned “It looks like a pretty big house to me.” However the best one-liner of the night was from Grant Wehrli when he stated, “I’ve heard nothing but silence from the Cemetery people”.

One topic on the agenda was whether or not to authorize the City Manager to recruit externally and fill a vacancy for an equipment operator. Councilman Furstenau voted ‘no’ and stated, “What we can do with 45 people we can do with 44”. Wouldn’t that same logic work with Council members? What we can do with 8 we can do with 7.

The main event of the evening focused on the Smart Grid bill of rights, which deals with the rights of Naperville citizens regarding information and options concerning the new system. A number of speakers each presented their 3 minutes worth of concerns to the Council. Watching the Council during this time you couldn’t help but to think they have already made up their minds and this combined 30 to 45 minutes of presentation was an exercise in futility. Some on the Council looked bored, others had little if any eye contact with the speakers, and a few looked restless. To the credit of the citizen-presenters, they made some outstanding points including middle school principal Dave Bendis and citizen Lisa Rooney.
Get Microsoft Silverlight
So why exactly, with all this controversy about Smart Grid, does the City Council want to move this project forward. Here is what the City has on their website regarding the Smart Grid:

“The city had planned on fully implementing smart grid technology over the next ten to fifteen years with a projected cost of more than $22 million. The first installment of this project had originally been budgeted through the five-year Capital Improvement Plan at $8.4 million for the initial phase of the project.

Naperville was the only municipality in the State of Illinois selected for a Smart Grid Investment Grant by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and was selected from more than 500 applicants. Since the DOE awarded the city an $11 million matching grant through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), which requires the entire smart grid to be installed and completed within three years…”

So originally the City had planned to fully implement this grid in “10 to 15 years”, but now they are required by Federal guidelines to complete this within THREE years. What’s the rush? Well as you can see the Federal government is funding half the project ($11 million) with Naperville matching that amount; that’s the rush. So the City is willing to rush the job in order to spend less for a service that they don’t even know if it will work, for a total dollar amount that they don’t know for sure, and with results that they hope will happen. Fellow citizens, if this is the legacy that this City Council is willing to ‘hang their reputation on’ then they are living on thin ice and bringing the rest of us along for an adventure we don’t want or need. We don’t need to be the ‘first kid on the block with a new untested pogo stick’ just because our parents can buy it at half-price.

Take a look at this excerpt from an August 16, 2010 article by Peter Asmus titled “How to Avoid Consumer Revolt on Smart Grid Technology”,

“In the San Francisco Bay Area, several communities – the most recent being Fairfax in Marin County – have successfully stopped Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) from installing smart meters pending further evaluations about accuracy, security and public health.

Some market participants estimated that roll-outs of “virtual power plants” based on demand response (DR) programs could likely be delayed by one year until these consumer resistance issues are worked out.”

When we have City Manager Doug Krieger making a bold statement by saying he ‘guarantees it is not a health concern” and that health concerns for Naperville Citizens are trumped by ‘cost prohibitive’ options, then we do have reason for more than concern. And  when we have a Councilman (Wehrli) stating “Well they must be safe because the Federal Government says they are.”,  then we have a major concern.  When we have a City Council that votes in essence for the ‘Board or Directors for the Naperville Electric Utility’  because they are one-in-the-same, then we have a classic conflict of interest, with the interest of our citizens health concerns being low priority by our City Council.

I am reminded of the Universal Epitaph, which can be used on any headstone, “At the time, I thought it was a good idea.”.  Well the City Council thinks this is a good idea, and it might be, but not at this time.

Part of the City Mission Statement for the Smart Grid Initiative states, “empowers customers to control energy use”, isn’t this something we already have; it’s called an “on and off” switch’.

Show 6 Comments


  1. Lisa

    Would you install a technology in your home that left you open to data security attacks?
    What about one that changed the electrical integrity of your home and put you at risk for electrical shock or fire safety?
    What about one that almost guaranteed increase rates?

    Smart meters can be installed without these issues. We should be urging city council to do just that….

    There are over 30+ cities across the country that are dealing with negative issues as a result of a recent smart meter installation. These include substantial increases in utility rates, public outcry, law suits, citizen health issues, and protests. Communities worldwide are asking for moratoriums and that the smart meters be removed from their homes and business.

    Why is our city council willing to add Naperville to the list of cities with these issues?
    We have enough data out there to prove this is an irresponsible decision on the part of our city council.

    Smart meters in their current form are not smart for Naperville. Ask the city council to provide a hard wired meter. It is the only option to eliminate the major concerns with wireless smart meters.

  2. Tammy

    I completely agree with this statement.

    Naperville CIty Council accepted an $11.5 million grant towards the purchase of Smart Meters to be installed at residents homes and business, school and churches in the upcoming months. The total project is $22 million, half of which is funded by the federal government, the other half to be funded by tax payers. Additionally, the city has hired a Chicago-based PR firm to handle the PR of the first phase of this project at a potential total price tag of $347,400.

    This is a wasteful use of taxpayer dollars. Residents should be in an uproar!

  3. Joseph

    Multiple flaws in this technology make this a bad decision at this time. Our council is spending our money inappropriately and we need to demand that is stops!

    I recently read about the 4 major issues with this technology. Having only one of them is reason enough to stop the installation but seeing ALL 4 of the come to fruition in other cities making the continuation of this project ludicrous!

    The issues are as follows:

    1) data security holes have been identified leaving the unit susceptible to hacking
    2) electrical safety concerns leading to potential for electric burns of residents, appliance burnout, and fire hazards to personal property
    3) Inaccurate readings and OVERCHARGING the customers.
    4) Health concerns regarding the effect of wireless radiation and the loss of freedom to control your exposure in your own home.

    This does not make me feel safe in my own home. I am against the installation of these meters.

  4. Sandy Glass

    For the past year, my family has been in contact with City Council and filing FOI requests for the NSGI. It is our belief that council should have had a referendum on the mandatory placement of a smart meter on each of our homes. These data collection devices will inventory, collect, store and share (according to law) each of our family’s minute to minute energy use, allowing a profile base to be established. When we get up, go to bed, leave for work, vacation, stay at home, work at home etc. It is also establishing a “time of use” pricing, voluntary for now, that will economically ration energy use between the hours of 2PM-7PM, affecting the most fragile of the community, the elderly, ill, home hospice, young children and lower economic levels. I have the “safety” information that city manager relied on, and there are NO studies on the 24/7, accumulated exposure of the EMR on the unborn, infants, children, elderly. All of our children will be, in my opinion, lab rats for these devices until studies regarding long term exposure are completed. Furthermore the city has granted West Monroe Partners close to 4 million dollars and Jasculca-Terman about $150,000.00 for among other things PR, yet no homeowner has received any complete information about the mandate about to happen. Act first, and apologize later?

  5. Sandy Glass

    A lot of speakers went to Council meeting Tuesday night and spoke about this issue. Council has made a big decision, and has spent lots of taxpayer money without involving the community on this decision. Basically, big business/big government is taking taxpayer money to enhance their profits. Instead of the energy companies serving the community, they are taking big money to install monitoring devices on our homes, so that they can charge more for their services, without improved quality of service. Fieseler and Wehrli, who have spear headed this project, are mandating that the community give up their privacy, health, and security and work for the energy companies by changing their family life. The citizens are going to work for the energy complex , instead of the energy complex building out their infrastructure so that they can provide reliable energy for business and families when they need it.

    We as citizens, are digging into this mess. The city has been requiring us to file FIO for all of the documents, instead allowing easy access to the contracts and work papers so that we can shine some light on this.

  6. Sandy Glass

    I went to Thursdays Smart Meter Steering Committee meeting, which is open to public (public can’t speak) and found out that Monroe Partners is in charge of designing the safety tests for the smart meters, rather than an independent engineering firm. Also that Monroe Partners has sent to a “Dave” at the Dept of Energy a “CD” of City Council Meetings where opposition spoke. Is this intimidation to “quell” dissent, per the JT proposal? Also, Curran stated that the city wanted to “help” consumers manager their electricity. As Milton Freeman said, if the government tried to manage the Sahara Desert, they would run out of sand in 4 years. The city can’t manage their own budget, let alone families energy use. Managing a families energy (via economic rationing) they are then managing family activity. The city needs to leave families alone to manage their lives and budgets. Smart meters must be voluntary, for those who think they need the governments help. One of your reps might consider attending the meetings to observe how decisions are made. Council and staff going down the same path, spending taxpayer monies for their projects. Like the emergency radio system, they paid little attention to those urging caution, denying citizens participation regarding the spending of their money and mandates for their families.

    Meetings usually on Fridays at 8:30 AM

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *