Letter to the Editor: City Manager Addresses Smart Meter Questions, Concerns

Naperville Patch welcomes letters to the editor. Letters may be submitted to Local Editor Collin Czarnecki at collin.czarnecki@patch.com.

Dear Utility Customers:

You’ve been hearing a lot about the Naperville Smart Grid Initiative (NSGI) in the last few weeks, and not all of it has been flattering. I’d like to take a few minutes to set the record straight about this project, the tremendous benefits it will have for our City as a whole and you as a municipal utility customer, and the meter installation process.

First, let me remind you what the NSGI is about. The NSGI is basically an upgrade to our electric network to provide more efficient, cost-effective and reliable service and empower customers with more information on their energy usage. Back in 2010, the City of Naperville’s municipally owned utility was awarded and accepted an $11 million matching grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to complete the $22 million project.

Smart meters are an important component of this upgraded electric network. These meters are the tools that allow us to offer you more rate options that could save you money. The efficiencies we will realize on the utility side through the NSGI are also great.

I’d like to answer some common questions I’ve received both recently and in the past about the NSGI.

Did customers have any say in the NSGI? 
Absolutely. Customer participation was extremely critical throughout this process. We listened to concerns expressed in writing, through 16 public open houses and during numerous public meetings. In response to input from our customers, we created a non-wireless smart meter alternative that has met the needs of more than 250 customers to date.

Where are we at with meter installation, and why do we need to finish installations now? 
We are at 99.7 percent meter installation of the more than 57,000 smart meters.  At this point, the remaining meters left to be installed are due to broken meter sockets, obstructions such as decks or siding, and a few refusals of new meters. We are in the process of installing this remaining less than 1 percent of meters. On an important side note, by replacing these meters, we were able to discover and repair numerous broken meter sockets, which could ultimately have posed a safety hazard. These repairs were done at no cost to customers, even though they are technically responsible for such repairs.

This month, we reached a point where we needed to proceed with meter installation to start realizing the benefits of the NSGI. One of the biggest benefits is called “conservation voltage reduction.” It’s not a common term, so let me explain the concept.

Conservation voltage reduction (CVR) allows our utility to essentially “fine tune” its electric system to better monitor and understand how much power is going out over our lines and make sure that we’re not wasting any of it. By fine tuning our system, we can buy less power and pass along that cost savings to our customers. If we did not have smart meters installed, conservation voltage reduction and its associated cost savings would not be possible. The City will ultimately save an estimated $2 million annually in operations by implementing CVR. Remember, because we are a not-for-profit municipal utility, we pass along cost savings to you.

We’re also in the process of activating smart meters for billing purposes, which is another important reason to finish the installation of all meters.

What has the City done to notify customers about these installations?
Our customers have had several touch points to date, including letters and postcards sent directly to their homes and businesses prior to initially scheduled installation. Currently, the City is continuing to work with customers who have obstructions or broken meter sockets preventing installation. For those customers who refused meter installation, multiple attempts were made to contact the customer.

Why were police present during the installations? 
Police were present for one major reason: safety. Based on previous attempts to install meters, we believed some of these installations would be challenging. For the safety of our employees and all parties involved, including our customers, we wanted to have a police presence available.

Why were the police, City workers and the City’s meter installation contractor able to go onto private property? 
The City owns the electric meters on residential homes and commercial buildings. Our Municipal Code provides us with the right to freely access customers’ property for the purpose of replacing City-owned equipment – including the meters.

Why were two individuals arrested on January 23, 2013, in relation to these meter installations? 
On January 23, we encountered a customer who would not provide our City officials and City meter installer with clear access to their meter. After several warnings, the customer refused to comply with the officer’s requests and the law.  Therefore, this customer was charged with interfering with an officer and preventing access to the meter, both City ordinance charges. Another customer was recording the situation and, after several warnings, that customer also refused to comply with the officer’s requests and the law. After consultation with the DuPage County State’s attorney, the customer was charged with attempted eavesdropping and resisting a peace officer, both state law charges and misdemeanors. 

It’s important to remember that our utility has always had the legal authority to select the equipment that fulfills its mission of providing electric service to its customers. Because our customers do not own the electric meters, we as the service provider have the ultimate authority to do so. Both the standard wireless smart meters and non-wireless smart meters meet the needs of the NSGI and our utility moving into the future.

Almost three years ago, I said that the NSGI is the right thing to do for our customers. I absolutely feel the same way today. Nationwide, utilities are moving toward a smart grid system. Today, 36 million smart meters are installed across the country. In our area, ComEd has begun implementation of a long-range plan to install smart meters. Just as technology has revolutionized many other aspects of our life, such as banking or shopping, technology is modernizing our electric grid. This technology is safe and secure.

We know some people have a different opinion and we respect their right to have that opinion. We have provided our customers with a choice of the non-wireless meter alternative.

I remain optimistic about the future of our electric utility and the many benefits of the NSGI that are yet to come. The NSGI is the right thing to do for Naperville. We look forward to the advancements to come in 2013, including an online ePortal for customers to view their energy use. Our City, and its electric grid, are heading into the future, and we embrace and welcome these changes.

Douglas A. Krieger
City Manager, City of Naperville

NaperDad February 07, 2013 at 04:35 AM
I know, how dare the council and audience clap and cheer when they announce the employee of the month and when the woman received award from the fire department. Wait, I thought showing emotion wasn't allowed. Well then how could that be that the chambers weren't admonished at that time? Oh, now I remember, the Mayor is now a censor in the fact that he chooses which emotions can be expressed and when.
Gerard Schilling February 07, 2013 at 10:17 AM
Why didn’t you speak up oh brave advocator of a police state? Could it be the sniveling coward within only can function by hiding behind an anonymous name in a big crowd and taking cheap shots at people who are trying to protect their rights?
Buck Naper February 07, 2013 at 11:39 AM
Different Rules for the Naperville governing elite: Chicago Tribune 12-19-2012 "To celebrate, Wilde and Mayor George Pradel grabbed hammers and vigorously demolished a cardboard mockup of the building during Tuesday’s City Council meeting as the audience clapped and whistled."
Buck Naper February 07, 2013 at 11:49 AM
Make it easier for you Council Pussar http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-12-19/news/chi-naperville-eyesore-to-become-park-20121219_1_president-harold-wilde-eyesore-property
Buck Naper February 07, 2013 at 11:50 AM
39 am on Thursday, February 7, 2013 Different Rules for the Naperville governing elite: Chicago Tribune 12-19-2012 "To celebrate, Wilde and Mayor George Pradel grabbed hammers and vigorously demolished a cardboard mockup of the building during Tuesday’s City Council meeting as the audience clapped and whistled."
Buck Naper February 07, 2013 at 11:51 AM
Make it easier for you Council Pussar so yo don't have to do any research http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-12-19/news/chi-naperville-eyesore-to-become-park-20121219_1_president-harold-wilde-eyesore-property
NaperDad February 07, 2013 at 02:14 PM
Maybe the reporter was just so overcome with emotion that they fainted and missed the part where the Mayor admonished the chamber for clapping and whistling.
Buford Pusser February 07, 2013 at 02:56 PM
If you learn somerhing there is to be no clapping or cheering when an agenda is being spoke about and speakers are addressing an agenda. This is so the rest of the agenda moves forward and speakers can speak w/o delay. I was at Council mettings many times and when there was clapping or cheering, the Mayor addressed the issue and it stopped. No with this immature crowd on Tuesday.
NaperDad February 07, 2013 at 03:33 PM
Please! There is time in between speakers while next one is making their way to the microphone to allow for clapping. The only thing delaying the progress of the meeting was the Mayor making a big deal about it. I too have been to multiple meetings and yes, you are correct, the Mayor does admonish the gallery for clapping, when it's for a topic that he doesn't like. He does not do it when it's for something he likes. Heck, even he claps for the awards and proclamations when he should be moving the meeting along right?
Buford Pusser February 07, 2013 at 03:50 PM
Naperdad It's not about the Mayor not liking a topic. He warns of clapping on all agendas regardless of the topic. When people clap at the Council meetings for awards that's respect for the recipient. Plus the Council meetings are controlled by the Mayor and City Council. Would you disobey the moron Obama if he told you not to clap during his Press conferences or Presidential speeches!
NaperDad February 07, 2013 at 04:03 PM
Buford, you are either flat out lying or not paying attention. He does not admonish the chamber for all clapping. If the rules are in place, they should be enforced at all times regardless of topic or speaker. Showing respect is in the eye of the person showing the respect. If the audience respected what a speaker presented, why should that be treated any differently? If the following speaker has made it to the podium and is delayed in speaking, that's one thing, but to not allow any clapping needs to be enforced equally. Face it, selective enforcement is nothing more than censorship.
Buford Pusser February 07, 2013 at 04:08 PM
Naperdad go to any other town for a Council meeting and they all set the same rules about clapping during and after a speaker,
Buford Pusser February 07, 2013 at 04:11 PM
Plus Naperdad all other Mayors before Mayor Pradel enforced the Council meetings rules as well!
NaperDad February 07, 2013 at 04:55 PM
I understand that. I'm not arguing that point. I'm saying enforce it equally across the board at all times or be a selective censor. And our Mayor has chosen to be a selective censor. I like how you toss out new points to try to derail the specific issue. It's not about who did what in the past or in another location. This is about the current Mayor of Naperville and his specific actions of allowing clapping sometimes and not at others. I'll just give you a heads up. Based on your tagential comments/questions, don't expect answers on all your red herring comments/questions.
Buford Pusser February 07, 2013 at 05:05 PM
All Mayors enforce the rules and do it at all and any Council meeting. They are the boss and run the meetings. Plus what red herring comments? They are all legit examples. The Mayor isn't selective at any meeting. Case in point! He stopped clapping and cheering at the Council meeting during the Police lay offs and the IVF clinic dispute. Those were very important issues and not this stupid smart meter fiasco!
Justin February 07, 2013 at 05:49 PM
BP you state, "All Mayors enforce the rules and do it at all and any Council meeting.They are the boss and run the meetings" The Mayor seems selective with enforcing the rules and running the meeting. I watch and attend the meetings and see clapping at every council meeting. But it appears he uses the rules to his benefit and whether or not he approves of what the clapping is for. If they are rules to be followed then they should be enforced consistently and not selectively. In his own council rules it states: 6) Audience: Members of the audience shall refrain from applauding, cheering, or booing during or at the conclusion of remarks made by any speaker, staff member or Councilman. http://library.municode.com/HTML/14853/level2/TIT1AD_CH5MACO.html#TIT1AD_CH5MACO_1-5-8-7CIPA These rules seem very clear to me and should be very clear to the mayor as well. "Members of the audience shall refrain from" means EVERYBODY in the audience and at all times.
Buck Naper February 07, 2013 at 10:01 PM
Gerard Schilling February 07, 2013 at 10:50 PM
The issue of expressing in a reasonable manner pleasure or displeasure with a speaker’s position should be a First Amendment right. These codes, rules and regulation just like laws are used to control the peons and to subjugate and intimidate them. They are always used to selectively apply against political opposition. As long as the responses are reasonable and not disruptive (preventing a speakers from speaking or disrupting procedures) then it is total BS and childish for officer friendly to try to berate and treat adults like 2 year old children!
jeff p February 08, 2013 at 01:51 AM
I am interested in knowing who Buford Pusser really is. Does he wear a badge? Does he carry a club? Does he admire the out-of-control cop image? Is he a government employee? BTW, I am Jefferson Perkins.
Buford Pusser February 08, 2013 at 04:25 AM
Jeff P It's me, it's me Ernest T. I support N.P.D.
Buford Pusser February 08, 2013 at 04:30 AM
Gerald all towns with Council meetings all follow the same rule and it's not just Naperville. Plus Gerald if you don't like the City Council meeting rules and regulations, don't go.
Gerard Schilling February 08, 2013 at 10:56 AM
You beat to death the adjective ALL. Nothing in life is all the time right, the same, equal, true or for that matter even seen the same. You continue to demonstrate an inability or tolerance for other people’s core beliefs or are you just a pathetic little man who gets no attention from his family , friends, workers or society and gets off by antagonizing other people?
NaperDad February 08, 2013 at 11:38 AM
The problem is that Naperville doesn't follow its own rule ALL the time. That's the censorship. It has been documented. We have seen it. You even admitted to having seen it. Whether it's out of respect for an award or not, it's against the rule. By not enforcing it all the time the Mayor is a censor.
Buford Pusser February 08, 2013 at 03:13 PM
Naperdad I"m all for clapping and it is excepted for the presentation of any award. That's respect! However there should be no clapping, cheering or booing while someone is speaking or after they are done. Like I said before the Mayor stopped and warned the crowd at Council meetings for Police lay offs and the IVF clinic agendas about the clapping and other unnecessary noises!
Buford Pusser February 08, 2013 at 03:16 PM
Gerald I'm far from being a little man! I'm a lean mean fighting machine. Not a fat and stoutly whiny old man like you! Waa waa! Mommy stop the meters.
Justin February 08, 2013 at 03:28 PM
The message that I have heard is not to stop the meters. Some Naperville residents are asking for a choice...a compromise. As a Naperville resident I don't think that is to much to ask from their city officials. For the life of me, I can't understand why they would rather arrest residents, possibly have more lawsuits filed, instead of just giving a choice. I do not understand it.
NaperDad February 08, 2013 at 06:13 PM
Okay, try just a bit to keep this from getting personal folks. Ad hominem attacks show that you no longer have valid points to make. FYI, "little man" is not a physical description as you interpreted but a mental state.
Buford Pusser February 08, 2013 at 09:33 PM
Hey Gerald there's no snow in my rear yard! It must be the damn smart meters? The meters are here to stay!
Gerard Schilling February 09, 2013 at 01:10 AM
It just caused the snow to go to your brain and time will tell!
Buford Pusser February 09, 2013 at 02:04 AM
Wow Gerald that's a good first grader retort! Plus the other night you said the City Manager, temporary Poice Chief (actually he's full time), Police Officers and public work employees all involved in the smart meter arrest should be fired! The big question is who will fire them? No one! Don't stroke out over this stupid meter situation. You look like a prime candadite.


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