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Woman Arrested While Refusing Smart Meter Installation on Her Property

Posted by on Jan. 26, 2013 at 8:16 AM
  • 42 Replies


Jennifer Stahl has been a strong advocate against the smart meter program in Naperville, Ill., for the last two years. The issue came to a head Wednesday afternoon when she was arrested while refusing to let the utility workers install the controversial device.

“I was protecting my property,” Stahl said in an interview with TheBlaze Thursday afternoon. “I felt my emotion was like a momma bear protecting her babies.”

Stahl was at a friend’s house when she received the call from her husband that the utility workers had arrived. She was home within 15 minutes and saw they were at a neighbor’s house. Her neighbors were not home, but they had signs stating they did not permit the new meter to be installed.

Stahl said she waited on her porch for the workers to arrive at her house. When they did, she refused them access to her backyard through her locked gate. The police — including the police supervisor, a sergeant — were called. Stahl said the sergeant explained the workers had authorization to access the meter, but Stahl stood her ground saying she didn’t approve it. The sergeant continued to try and convince Stahl to comply and said if she didn’t, he’d arrest her.

“The city has always had and maintains the right to access our equipment, and today we were simply exercising that right,” City Manager Doug Kreiger told the Chicago Tribune, which reported Wednesday’s events.

The lock on Stahl’s fence was cut, and when Stahl wouldn’t step away from the meter, she was lead away by an officer, cuffed and waited for a marked squad car to arrive to take her to the department. When asked why she was being arrested, she was told it was for interfering with a police officer.

The local CBS channel has footage of the arrest:

Did she ever think it would come to this?

“It occurred to me,” Stahl said, explaining that she previously had considered how far she would go to maintain her stance.

“I didn’t put my name on a federal lawsuit” to stand down now, Stahl continued.

The group Naperville Smart Meter Awareness has filed a lawsuit, for which there are currently motions to dismiss as well as to grant temporary restraining orders for residents refusing the meters.

Two Naperville Women Arrested While Protesting the Installation of Smart Meters on Their Homes

(Photo: Naperville Smart Meter Awareness/Facebook)

Tom Glass, a member of the Naperville Smart Meter Awareness group, told TheBlaze Thursday he felt the fact that the city is arresting residents for refusing is “completely frightening in this day in age.”

“The city is still sending around people to read these [smart] meters … they don’t work,” Glass continued.

Stahl was one of two women arrested while smart meters were being installed on their property without permission Wednesday. Malia “Kim” Bendis was the second who received two misdemeanors for attempted eavesdropping and resisting a police officer, according to the Tribune.

This video posted to YouTube shows Bendis protesting the removal of her analog meter for installation of a smart meter:

Stahl estimated at the rate the city is going installing smart meters that they’ll be complete with 100 percent compliance by the end of the week. The Tribune reported 57,000 homes (99 percent) have them so far.

“It’s not acceptable that the city can choose for me on my behalf to install this meter that I don’t think is appropriate for myself,” Stahl said. “I choose to keep my analog meter because of all the issues. I can’t believe the city is not providing an alternative option.”

An alternative option of sorts is provided by the city. However, it still requires residents to receive a new meter. According to a Q&A document about the Naperville Smart Grid Initiative, homeowners are able to choose between participating in the smart grid program with a standard, wireless meter. Or they can opt out and will still receive what is being called a “non-standard” smart meter, which has the wireless card removed.

To receive a “non-standard” smart meter costs an initial, one-time fee of $68.35 (this is the cost difference between the two meters) and a monthly fee of $24.75 for manual reading of the meter. The Q&A emphasized that no existing analog meters will be retained by customers and that the new non-wireless, non-standard smart meters installed for residents opting out of the program requires new equipment and special training for workers to learn how to read them.

“Therefore, there is an incremental cost for this service,” the Q&A explains.

The controversy over smart meters has been seen in cities around the nation. Some have concerns about the type of data the smart meters will allow to be collected (and how that data will be used). Others worry about the health risks associated with transmitter in the smart meter, including headaches, insomnia, tinnitus and DNA breakdown.

Here’s video of a third Naperville mother emotionally refusing the smart meter Wednesday fearing her daughter’s health:

As for Stahl, she said when she arrived home later, the smart meter was installed.

“I choose to rise above. I’m not going to worry about what I’m going to do [about the meter] at this point. I’m going to focus on my energy into mobilizing the people of Naperville and around the country … to do something to take a stand as well,” Stahl said.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include information about the option for customers wishing to opt out of the smart meter program.

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by on Jan. 26, 2013 at 8:16 AM
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Replies (1-10):
Ms.KitKat
by Platinum Member on Jan. 26, 2013 at 8:19 AM

 This is the problem with easements. and this is why I would never buy a home with an easment. (granted I did not read the whole article) but she had to know! when purchasing her home it included the easemnt to the town.

katy_kay08
by on Jan. 26, 2013 at 9:45 AM
2 moms liked this

The service requires equipment if she doesn't want the equipment, then stop providing the service.  

DSamuels
by Gold Member on Jan. 26, 2013 at 10:45 AM
I didn't see anything about an easement in the article.

The company providing power owns the meters on houses, not the homeowner, and you have to provide them access to their meter. The homeowner owns the equipment hooked up to the meter like the furnace, hot water heater, etc.


Quoting Ms.KitKat:

 This is the problem with easements. and this is why I would never buy a home with an easment. (granted I did not read the whole article) but she had to know! when purchasing her home it included the easemnt to the town.

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Veni.Vidi.Vici.
by on Jan. 26, 2013 at 10:53 AM
1 mom liked this

Smart meters are optional here, for now. A few of our neighbors had them installed last spring. I know that one of our neighbors experienced 20%-30% increase in her electric bill. According to her and the paperwork left by the company they were supposed to experience 10%-25% decrease in monthly bill. After the first bill our neighbors called to question the increase and send a tech. The tech said that the equipment wasn't faulty ad suggested that they had somehow tried to alter the settings. As if. Month two showed and even higher increase and they called the company to have it removed. The neighbor also requested the company remove the excess in the charges, and the company refused.

yourspecialkid
by Platinum Member on Jan. 26, 2013 at 11:00 AM
2 moms liked this

 

Quoting Veni.Vidi.Vici.:

Smart meters are optional here, for now. A few of our neighbors had them installed last spring. I know that one of our neighbors experienced 20%-30% increase in her electric bill. According to her and the paperwork left by the company they were supposed to experience 10%-25% decrease in monthly bill. After the first bill our neighbors called to question the increase and send a tech. The tech said that the equipment wasn't faulty ad suggested that they had somehow tried to alter the settings. As if. Month two showed and even higher increase and they called the company to have it removed. The neighbor also requested the company remove the excess in the charges, and the company refused.

 ^^ This is why I can't really blame the woman in the article.  I don't care for the meters myself.  It allows the company to change the prices every single day!  The cost of natural gas goes up..so does the charge...even though the supply they have on hand was bought at a cheaper price.  It allows the company to gouge the consumer and gives the consumer no recourse.

Our house has a smart meter, we had no choice.  I don't have a big issue because we are part of a co-op that works to keep prices low to start with and distrubutes any profit at the end of the year.

 

unspecified42
by Bronze Member on Jan. 26, 2013 at 11:07 AM

It was her property, but it was THEIR equipment. In order to be in the right, she should have removed it from HER property.

Sisteract
by Whoopie on Jan. 26, 2013 at 11:11 AM

In our community you had the option of opting out- which some people did. We did not opt out and our bills have remained unchanged. We are frugal users though as we live in a temperate climate and our house is not overly large, has no pool/spa, and all energy efficient appliances.

We lived in Naperville, IL in 2008- we did not have the meter when we lived in that community.

lga1965
by Ruby Member on Jan. 26, 2013 at 11:11 AM
1 mom liked this

 Our townhomes all have "smart meters". I didn't give it a second thought when they installed it about 6 years ago. My bills haven't gone up or down. I certainly would not be worrying about it "collecting data"....I wouldn't be refusing to let them install it like this loony woman.

Holy moly. Reynolds aluminum is really making big bucks nowdays, aren't they?

poietes
by Bronze Member on Jan. 26, 2013 at 11:16 AM
Well I guess they can just stop getting power then.
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btamilee
by Silver Member on Jan. 26, 2013 at 11:16 AM

You could opt out of smart meters where I live, but if you did opt out...you would be charged a surcharge every month, because then they would have to send someone to your home to read the meter every month, instead of being able to do it all electronically.  Our bill has decreased almost every month since our smart meter was installed last year.

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