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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 (electricalpollution.com) 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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RE: Waste of money
By FaaR on 1/25/2013 8:12:07 AM , Rating: 0
quote:
But after a few months, they revert to their pre-smart meter usage patterns. Largely because it’s a royal pain to schedule your life around off-peak usage. People just pay the higher rate.

...So what you're saying is that people should simply be allowed, for their own ease and convenience, to be lazy, because...well, because they're lazy. Is that it?

I can't really tell if you have a valid point somewhere in your post, but this seems to be what you're stating. Unfortunately many americans seem to reason the way you do these days, you're complacent and selfish, and protest vigorously as if you've been insulted or greatly harmed if asked to adjust your squandering way of life, because doing so would require the slightest bit of effort.

BOO F'N HOO! The rest of the globe inquires if we should call you a waahmbulance.

There are quite a few people on this globe that would like electricity period you know, even if they had to put up with the horrific burden of living under the yoke of a smart meter... *rolleyes*


RE: Waste of money
By arazok on 1/25/2013 10:50:57 AM , Rating: 2
No, what I’m saying is that the smart meters have failed to do what they claimed they would do – encourage people to change their behavior.

If you want to advocate using a hammer to force people to do what you want them to, that’s one thing. But don’t tell me these things accomplish anything, because the government’s own research has shown they don’t.

If you can tell me why it’s worth $1.5 billion dollars to invest in something that results in nothing, I’m all ears.


RE: Waste of money
By JediJeb on 1/25/2013 6:31:41 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
...So what you're saying is that people should simply be allowed, for their own ease and convenience, to be lazy, because...well, because they're lazy. Is that it?


Has nothing to do with being lazy. As for me I have switched to LED lighting, turned back my thermostats and during the summer I do not use a cloths dryer but instead put them outside to dry. I don't do it to save the planet, I do it to save money. Why should I though have to rearrange my whole schedule just to save a few kWh of electricity by washing cloths after 8pm when I need to be in bed by 10pm so I can get some sleep before I have to get up for work. If that is the case, why not just make all of society sleep during the day, and have the stores and restaurants all open after 8pm until 6am? Or why not force half of the worlds workforce to work a day shift and the other half to work a night shift, along with having children split between a day and night shift for schools. Maybe that would help balance the energy loads.

quote:
I can't really tell if you have a valid point somewhere in your post, but this seems to be what you're stating. Unfortunately many americans seem to reason the way you do these days, you're complacent and selfish, and protest vigorously as if you've been insulted or greatly harmed if asked to adjust your squandering way of life, because doing so would require the slightest bit of effort.


Calling people lazy for not wanting to walk goose step to some government ideal of how we should live is insulting. To think that governments know more how we should live than the citizens do is outright ignorant thinking because guess what, governments are made up of citizens too, not some group of all knowing uber intelligent super moral gods like they want us to believe they are.


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