Print 112 comment(s) - last by skildner.. on Jan 30 at 1:39 PM

City "exercise its right" to remove those looking to stand in the way of "progress"

In an incident that's sure to draw national attention, two women were dragged from their own backyards and arrested by police in Naperville, Illinois (a town located approximately 30 minutes west of Chicago) after they tried to block installation of the city's new smart meters.

President Obama has been pushing for a "smart grid" for some time, with more high-tech meters that can access more detailed information on power usage.  Proponents argue the high-tech meters cut down on waste and mistakes.  Critics cite a variety of concerns ranging from national security to health.

The two arrested women -- Jennifer Stahl and Malia "Kim" Bendis -- were leaders of an anti-smart meter group dubbed "Naperville Smart Meter Awareness".  The group's website links to a critical article on the project which points out its $23.6M USD cost, only $11M USD of which came from a federal grant.

Even Mark Curran the Naperville director of electrical utilities admits that the meter rollout has taken "longer than we anticipated", after being fraught with technical delays.

smart meter arrests
Arrest photos of Jennifer Stahl (left) and Malia Bendis (right) [Image Source: Naperville PD]

Aside from finances, though, there appears to be a relatively strong luddite component of the group's campaign to block the meters.  The group links to a number of speculative websites that compile information on the supposed "health risks" of smart meters.  The commentary on one site ( echoes the medically unfounded claims that similar campaigns have leveled against cell phone towers or Wi-Fi networks.  Comments the site:

This is of great concern because the exposure to microwave and radiowave radiation from these meters is involuntary and continuous. The transmitting meters may not even comply with Federal Communications Commission (FCC) "safety" standards ... However, those standards were initially designed to protect an average male from tissue heating (cooking) during a brief exposure. These standards were not designed to protect a diverse population from the non-thermal effects of continuous exposure to microwave and radiowave radiation. Therefore, these "safety" standards were not designed to protect the public from health problems under the circumstances which the meters are being used.

To date, there has been no comprehensive peer-reviewed work supporting the notion that Wi-Fi or cell phone signals cause cancer or other health effects, but that hasn't stopped critics from suggesting that undiscovered risks may indeed exist.

Smart Meter protesters
Naperville Smart Meter Awareness Board of Directors (L-R): Jennifer Stahl (Secretary), Kim Bendis (President), and Board Members Amanda Rykov, Lisa Rooney, Tom Glass
[Image Source: Naperville Smart Meter Awareness]

Despite the shaky science, one must wonder whether the city's strong-arm tactics are justified for citizens who don't want the meters.  Ms. Stahl's arrest came at 4:30 when police invaded her backyard with the installation crew after cutting the bicycle lock she used on her fence gate.  When police found Ms. Stahl standing in front of her old-fashioned "dumb" meter refusing to move, they arrested her and charged her with interfering with a police officer and preventing access to customer premises.

Ms. Bendis's arrest proceeded similarly.  She was charged with attempted eavesdropping and resisting a peace officer.

A defiant Ms. Stahl told reporters, "It was forced on my house today.  It was really a violation. I violated something, but I’ve been violated too so I guess we’re now in a society of violating one another.  I have not done the work of attempting to educate the community and advocating for the right of anybody in Naperville to refuse the smart meter just to stand off to the side."

Ms. Bendis declined to comment to reporters, citing advice from her lawyer.

Both women were released within hours.  City Manager Doug Krieger defends the arrests, commenting, "The previous installation attempts were met with some resistance and we wanted to ensure our employees’ safety.  The city has always had and maintains the right to access our equipment, and today we were simply exercising that right."

Smart Meter
The Elster Rex2 smart meter (left) is being installed in homes, supported by wireless stations attached to poles and other infrastructure (right).
[Image Source: Naperville Smart Meter Awareness/Elster]

While the cost is one reasonable criticism against smart meter projects, another more ground criticism is security.  Prominent sources, including defense contractor Lockheed Martin Comp. (LMT), have suggested that Chinese or other sophisticated rivals of the U.S. could "hack into" smart meter networks and use attacks to cripple or otherwise interfere with the U.S. power grid.  If this premise holds true it would represent a tremendous new national security risk.

Another interesting criticism comes from security researchers [PDF], who report that smart meter data, if carefully analyzed, could reveal intimate details of one's life.  For example, a house hooked up to smart water and electric meters could allow a third party to track when people shower, whether a home alarm is on, and how often people use their televisions.

Sources: Chicago Tribune, Daily Herald [Naperville]

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Nothing to see here...
By daveinternets on 1/24/2013 3:14:19 PM , Rating: 2
... just more fucking nut jobs from the fly over states / the bible belt.

RE: Nothing to see here...
By 91TTZ on 1/24/2013 3:24:02 PM , Rating: 1
Yeah, they were crazy. But since deregulation the power companies are private. Why should a private company be allowed to force something on your own property?

RE: Nothing to see here...
By Kefner on 1/24/2013 3:28:43 PM , Rating: 4
That's fine, take them off the grid then!

RE: Nothing to see here...
By dgingerich on 1/24/2013 3:35:51 PM , Rating: 2
Fine. Take me off the grid. I'll build my own Thorium Salts reactor and make my own power. :)

RE: Nothing to see here...
By Reclaimer77 on 1/24/13, Rating: 0
RE: Nothing to see here...
By George Karadimas on 1/25/2013 7:20:15 PM , Rating: 1
The US Constitution is kept at the Smithsonian in Washington DC along with other relics of Antiquity.

But Have no Fear, it is in a steel case behind BULLET proof Glass.

All your Elected officials swear to it ,to uphold it, but NOBODY pays attention, and many would be hard pressed to spell the word or explain it's meaning.

It is something ceremonial they have to do...BUT search them if they know why??

RE: Nothing to see here...
By 91TTZ on 1/24/2013 4:48:35 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, that would have been a better outcome. If they don't want the electric company's power meter then the electric company doesn't have to sell them power.

But to have the police arrest them just seems ridiculous, as if the desire of the power company to install the meter at their house overrides the landowner's request not to put it there.

RE: Nothing to see here...
By Samus on 1/24/2013 3:31:07 PM , Rating: 2
If you want service you must agree to use their equipment. Same goes for most industries.

RE: Nothing to see here...
By othercents on 1/24/2013 3:37:46 PM , Rating: 2
Your contract with the electric company allows them access to your premise. However if you deny them access then they can shutoff your service, but I don't believe the contract says that they can force-ably enter your property.

RE: Nothing to see here...
By Brandon Hill on 1/24/2013 3:39:44 PM , Rating: 2
Well, I know that AT&T can and will enter your property without permission and tear your *&^% up according to this poster!! :)

And its LEGAL.

RE: Nothing to see here...
By Camikazi on 1/24/2013 3:57:04 PM , Rating: 2
When they have an easement it's not really your property and they are supposed to put it back when they are done.

RE: Nothing to see here...
By 91TTZ on 1/24/2013 4:52:41 PM , Rating: 2
If you want service you must agree to use their equipment. Same goes for most industries.

Right, they didn't agree to use the power company's equipment so they should have had their power cut off. But that's not what happened- they were arrested on their own property.

RE: Nothing to see here...
By Samus on 1/24/13, Rating: 0
RE: Nothing to see here...
By Argon18 on 1/24/2013 3:33:48 PM , Rating: 2
"we live in a radioactive world. Our bodies have evolved to comply with low level radiation."

Lol what? Huh? What does this mean??

RE: Nothing to see here...
By JasonMick on 1/24/2013 3:44:37 PM , Rating: 1
"we live in a radioactive world. Our bodies have evolved to comply with low level radiation."

Lol what? Huh? What does this mean??
I assume he's referring to background radiation:

It's true our bodies are adjusted to deal with a certain amount of radiation damage.

However, his context is somewhat confusing/misleading as BR is ionizing radiation. By contrast nonionizing radiation (e.g. EMF) has not been definitively shown definitively in peer-reviewed studies to cause any health issues. So whether it's a health hazard at all, much less whether our bodies have "adapted to it" is an open debate.

If EMF does pose any sort of health risk, one could expect our bodies have evolved a certain amount of protection against it. People tend to view living organism as these poor frail, fragile things. If you take biochemistry or cancer biology course work, you will realize differently -- living organisms are incredibly robust with amazing capacity to self-repair and an impressive amount of redundancy.

I find it unlikely a smart meter will kill you, much less make you sick.

RE: Nothing to see here...
By JediJeb on 1/24/2013 4:55:46 PM , Rating: 2
I have never really bought into the cell phone radiation scare but did experience something recently that make me wonder. I carry my cellphone in my shirt pocket and directly over it are my Sharpies in my lab coat pocket. The other day I put my hand on my pocket and noticed they were hot to the touch on the lower end that is directly over the phone antenna. My phone though was cool to the touch. I had a co-worker put my phone in her shirt pocket behind her pens and the same thing happened, the pens became hot while the phone remained cool.

Just one of those odd occurrences I guess.

RE: Nothing to see here...
By Samus on 1/25/2013 12:39:44 AM , Rating: 2
You put any energy absorbing object around a cell phone (metal, ink, etc) and it will warm up. There is energy going through it.

However, most non-ionizing radiation doesn't penitrate our skin, and the ionizing radiation that does is neither here nor there. It hasn't been shown to cause measurable damage to organs or genetics outside of a lab where they eliminate many anatomical barriers (usually skin, which obviously protects us in many ways)

RE: Nothing to see here...
By mpx on 1/25/2013 2:50:49 PM , Rating: 2

Radiation exposure can limit fertility, sperm counts etc.

RE: Nothing to see here...
By Azethoth on 1/28/2013 2:14:41 PM , Rating: 2
Not all radiation does. Ionizing radiation can. So UV-B can, infrared can not.

RE: Nothing to see here...
By omgwtf8888 on 1/24/2013 3:48:53 PM , Rating: 2
I hope the evolution includes an adamantium skeleton along with the faraday cage under the skin.

RE: Nothing to see here...
By 91TTZ on 1/24/2013 5:06:42 PM , Rating: 2
You're focusing on the wrong things here. Sure, these people are wackos. But they have a right to their own property.

If they were afraid of electricity it would be their right to go without electricity service. Amish people do it all the time. And I guarantee you that if they didn't have a contract with the power company that company wouldn't be installing a meter at their house for free.

The fact is that these crazy people didn't want the meters. The correct course of action would have been to cut off their power and wait for them to call back and agree to the new meter so they can get their electricity back.

RE: Nothing to see here...
By half_duplex on 1/24/13, Rating: 0
RE: Nothing to see here...
By mmatis on 1/25/2013 11:46:31 AM , Rating: 3
This is Illinois. What do you think their chances are of finding a judge who is not totally corrupt?

"Forget it, Jake. It's Chi-town."

RE: Nothing to see here...
By Samus on 1/26/2013 12:09:49 AM , Rating: 2
All of you guys missed the point of my post. If you read the article , it clearly states (in addition to other reasons) they didn't want the meters installed because they have wireless transmitters. Both photographs focus on wireless transmitters as well.

That gives the reader the obvious assumption they are concerned with radiation, hence the entire basis for my post.

And being concerned with radiation is ridiculous because a fraking banana emits more radiation than most household electronic devices.

RE: Nothing to see here...
By George Karadimas on 1/25/2013 9:59:26 AM , Rating: 1
They could also have paid the EXTORTION SIZE OPT-OUT FEE as WELL!


RE: Nothing to see here...
By Shadowmaster625 on 1/25/2013 10:34:02 AM , Rating: 1
The nut jobs are the people who go and vote for this federal scumbags who give grants to eliminate jobs and install stupid meters that have 1 digit past the decimal resolution making them completely useless for anything other than centralization of control. Why the hell would you want to give these frickin sadistic control freaks a centralized electric grid, especially when it is paid for with lost jobs and tax dollars. You stupid useless brainless piece of trahs. You think you are so much smarter than these "flyover country" people but you dont know JACK .

"Google fired a shot heard 'round the world, and now a second American company has answered the call to defend the rights of the Chinese people." -- Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.)

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