Smart meter protestors arrested for preventing device installation

This has gone too far.

Naperville smart meter arrest – Chicago Tribune.

Two vocal opponents of Naperville’s initiative to install wireless electric meters on homes were arrested after interfering with the installation process, according to city officials.

[T]he Naperville Smart Meter Awareness group has expressed concerns over whether the wireless meters will affect health, security and privacy. The group has a federal lawsuit pending against the city.

Malia “Kim” Bendis of the 2200 block of Mercer Court was charged with two misdemeanors — attempted eavesdropping and resisting a peace officer.

Jennifer Stahl of the 1400 block of Westglen Drive, received two ordinance violation citations — interfering with a police officer and preventing access to customer premises.

The city, which has repeatedly declared the wireless meters to be safe, offers a non-wireless alternative meter to residents with concerns. There is a $68.35 initial fee for a non-wireless meter plus a $24.75 monthly fee for manually reading it. Stahl said residents who want a non-wireless meter should not have to pay for it, and said she represents other homeowners who were not able to continue to refuse the wireless meter installation.

The Smart Meter Awareness Group cites personal anecdotes about people claiming to become sick from smart meters. They also feel the smart grid poses privacy risks.

Here are the facts. There has been NO study that shows there is a health problem. Advocates against these smart meters disregard those studies and insist there IS a risk. How do they account for the fact that we are SURROUNDED by radio frequencies all the time, smart meters or not? Do they live without televisions, computers, cell phones, wifi and indoor lighting? If they fear the meters, why don’t they fear the electricity itself? It’s all around them.

Electricity isn’t a right. Many people live without it. Also, it’s not free. There is a cost of generating and transmission. Because we must burn fossil fuels to create it, environmental laws constrain its generation and require wise management.Hence, smart meters. There certainly may be valid concerns about this new technology but the current conflagration about them isn’t a productive way to address it.

Protestors demands to “free my electricity” is bogus. It’s not yours. You buy it. Utilities are not quite like other consumer products which is why they are heavily regulated. But latching on to unsupported ideas about health scares and manufacturing paranoia is irresponsible and results in a waste of public resources through these civil actions and lawsuits.

The homeowners were given a choice to install different meters. They could also chose to move or use generators instead. They have no grounds to stand on with their current claims. However, arrest? Not a good move. The electric companies have not been persuasive and now have to bring out the hammer. There are better ways to approach the concern over smart meters. Neither side in this area has done a good job.


Click for Smart meters on Wikipedia

Previous stories:

Fear causes ‘Smart meter’ foes to opt out.

Irrational fears of smart meters cause unintelligence reaction.

Smart meter opponents lose case in British Columbia.

  43 comments for “Smart meter protestors arrested for preventing device installation

  1. Chris Howard
    January 27, 2013 at 10:23 AM

    I’m guessing the utility companies got caught with their pants down on this one.

    I guess in an age of “mass communication for everyone” you have to take into consideration that every crackpot with a half-baked idea has a platform to reach multiple millions of people.

    Whereas in the past you didn’t have to address every crazy idea, in this world you kinda do.

    Unfortunately I see companies and governments following a “mob rules” paradigm. It doesn’t matter what the hard evidence suggest, or what the facts are, or even what’s ethical. The only thing that counts, as far as decision making is concerned, is the bottom line.

    So, if enough people want to believe this nonsense about “toxic” wireless meters the companies would listen, regardless of the truth.

  2. RDW
    January 27, 2013 at 10:30 AM

    Smart meters are considerably more private than the only other option I know of , which would involve someone entering into or onto the property to be able to read meters. With smart meters, the information can be gathered from the street, and is considerably more convenient for both the power companies and the home owners. It’s a little silly for people to have these fears, and not very rational.

  3. One Eyed Jack
    January 27, 2013 at 10:43 AM

    Tin foil hats.

    Problem solved.

    Move along.

  4. One Eyed Jack
    January 27, 2013 at 10:45 AM

    “It’s a little silly for people to have these fears, and not very rational.”

    Fears are rarely rational. Sometimes justified, but rarely rational.

  5. Jack
    January 27, 2013 at 11:26 AM

    I am NOT anti-smart meter. However, as a wireless network engineer, I suppose there could be a thin case made for wireless network snooping. However, it would just be easier for the gubment to get such information from Internet providers.

    I wonder if Alex Jones has anything to say on the matter. Maybe I’ll just stick my head in a microwave and find out.

  6. Donna
    January 27, 2013 at 11:53 AM

    I’ve had a smart meter attached to my house for about 2 yrs. the thing is that it wasn’t working until the middle of last summer. I had beautiful shrubs growing in front of it, but after the meter was replaced and activated, the shrubs were dead within a month. Yeah, we are receiving waves from crap from all directions, and all people aren’t affected the same way, if at all. It has an accumulative effect which, depending on how strong our immune systems are, will affect some people quicker and stronger than others. Please wake up and do some objective research.

  7. January 27, 2013 at 12:12 PM

    The second arrest, the one for recording the police officers, shouldn’t have happened. People have the right to record police.

  8. Bobbi Snow
    January 27, 2013 at 12:30 PM

    I have a friend in S/E Canada. Her SmartMeter went in a year ago. First her roses died – the ones which were planted and previously thriving and 5 years; they were in a 20′ radius of the meter. Then she began having headaches whenever she spent more than half an hour in her kitchen which is on the inside of the wall from the SmartMeter. Now she makes morning coffee and enjoys it on the other side of the house, and her headaches have lessened. Oh… and she no longer cooks lavish meals in the kitchen; they all go out for dinner, because her children began experiencing headaches, too, when they were in the front part of the house. She had the house checked for other problems – gas seepage, etc. Nothing could be found. So perhaps there really IS something to this fear of SmartMeters and their energy flow.

  9. One Eyed Jack
    January 27, 2013 at 12:45 PM

    You say, ” Please wake up and do some objective research”, yet you provide none of your own to support your position.

    If you want to be taken seriously, then provide some serious research showing that WiFi waves kill shrubs. Your story is poor evidence since the shrub could have died due to a hundred different reasons that had nothing to do with your meter.

  10. One Eyed Jack
    January 27, 2013 at 1:00 PM

    “First her roses died – the ones which were planted and previously thriving and 5 years”

    Roses are notoriously fragile. They are vulnerable to many diseases and very sensitive to micro-climate changes. They could have died for a hundred different reasons. Correlation does not equal causation.

    ” Nothing could be found.”

    Nothing could be found except her fears. Don’t discount the power of her own fears to account for the mysterious headaches. FWIW, I venture that more than half of those restaurants they go to are open WiFi hotspots. Strange that she doesn’t get headaches there. Now that’s something to think about.

  11. January 27, 2013 at 1:48 PM

    Anecdotes mean nothing. As I said, and pointed to research, there is NO data that suggest these are harmful. HOW RUDE to tell me to “wake up and do some research” when I pointed you to some you didn’t read. Also, try reading the comments policy.

  12. AmSci
    January 27, 2013 at 1:51 PM

    My uncle had a SmartMeter installed six months ago. Since then, he has won the lottery, lost thirty pounds, married a super-model, and regrown all of his lost hair. Aren’t anecdotes great?

  13. January 27, 2013 at 1:51 PM

    It has been mentioned that the security is NOT secure for these devices. That may be true. But the main push against these has not been that issue. It’s been made up fears instead.

  14. January 27, 2013 at 1:53 PM

    Again: Anecdotes mean practically nothing in these cases. There may be people scaring themselves and attributing a cause and effect post hoc but that’s NOT science and it doesn’t hold up.

  15. January 27, 2013 at 1:54 PM

    Sorry for the self-starting video. I don’t like when that happens but I can’t seem to stop it.

  16. AmSci
    January 27, 2013 at 1:58 PM

    If your roses really did die from the smart meter, physics is totally and utterly wrong. Your immune system has absolutely nothing to do with waves– that’s ridiculous. You need to learn something about electromagnetic waves and critical thinking.

  17. oldebabe
    January 27, 2013 at 1:59 PM

    Perhaps now we can use wi-fi (smart meters, computers, laptops, phones, et al) as weed-killers, if it is killing shrubs, etc…. ah, a free benefit….

    Is there anything that someone won’t find to disparage because it’s new or different?

  18. oldebabe
    January 27, 2013 at 2:05 PM

    Yes, it’s quite startling, and a bit disconcerting. I wish I could help you solve the problem, but I’m one of those people who are called `computer illiterate’. Anyway, I just won’t access this site again – problem solved. And thanks for all you do.

  19. IAmZeeEggman
    January 27, 2013 at 2:09 PM

    I requested that my SmartMeter be installed adjacent to our dumbwaiter. Now we have a wall of average intelliegence.

  20. January 27, 2013 at 2:14 PM

    I’m skeptical of your “computer illiterate” claim. 😉 You made it here and posted a comment!

  21. spookyparadigm
    January 27, 2013 at 4:37 PM

    Emeters kill plants and cause headaches? I was wondering what the next evolution of fluoride/chemtrails/Morgellon’s would be.

  22. January 27, 2013 at 6:21 PM

    We had a smart meter installed more than a year ago because the meter reader couldn’t make it up our driveway for several months in the winter. Then the company would charge us an estimated amount – often higher than our real amount. We always got it back, but it was alarming to our bank balance.

    The only effect has been that we now get accurate bills. The trees and bushes (including roses only a few feet away) have been completely unaffected. 🙂

  23. Chris Howard
    January 27, 2013 at 7:28 PM

    It depends upon the jurisdiction. Some departments view it as a violation of the suspect/perpetrators right to privacy, and a potential biasing of public opinion which could effect trials involving a jury.
    People can also get in the way, hindering an officer who is attempting to execute his/her duty.
    It’s also possible that the officer is attempting to keep onlookers safe from potential harm, or from contaminating a potential crime scene.
    A lot of jurisdictions will allow ‘x’ amount of feet distance between an officer and the onlooker(s), but it is usually left to the officers descression.

  24. eximius apparata
    January 27, 2013 at 7:28 PM

    whenever i read anecdotes like this i always think, “oh, okay. so this person is an alien from another galaxy who has never been –and WILL NEVER be– sick, who (in this case) brought *perfectly* healthy plants from their planet to ours; and can ONLY be made ill due to electromagnetic waves (or GMO crops, or vaccines, or whatever); because that’s the ONLY thing that could have possibly made them sick.”

    i mean, how many billions of potential things could have affected this person?

    so what if the house was checked for anything… maybe the whole family should see a *doctor*?

  25. January 27, 2013 at 7:28 PM

    Clearly not only do you not know anything about physics (does the term “non-ionizing radiation” mean anything to you?), but also you don’t know anything about gardening, either.

    The more likely explanation for your shrubs was that that the root system was damaged or the main stem was damaged because of careless meter installers. If you didn’t think of that, ergo you don’t know much about gardening.

  26. January 27, 2013 at 7:35 PM

    I am amused that these people want to get the manual-read meters for no cost. They want their neighbours to to pay for the extra cost of the special service of sending a person out to read their dumb-meters. Rather selfish, don’t you think?

  27. Chew
    January 27, 2013 at 7:52 PM

    Try putting water on your flowers instead of Brawndo.

  28. January 27, 2013 at 8:38 PM

    Actually, I beamed psy-waves at her and commanded her remotely to kill her roses. Sorry for the confusion.

  29. January 27, 2013 at 8:39 PM

    Now if you will excuse me, I’m going to massacre my neighbor’s trees with my TV remote.

  30. January 27, 2013 at 8:42 PM

    Oh Bob. Causing trouble AGAIN!

  31. January 27, 2013 at 9:33 PM

    From a privacy perspective, I would be more concerned that with most of my energy and gas usage available as timestamped information, some stranger at the power company, or someone able to snoop a non-secure transmission from the smart meters would be able to analyze that information and determine from that the patterns of my comings and goings, along with those of everyone else. Yes, I know that anyone can sit outside my house and watch me for a period of time to get that same information, but to be able to do it clandestinely with greater accuracy from a remote location for thousands of people represents a risk to my privacy and property on a scale hitherto not possible.

  32. AmSci
    January 27, 2013 at 10:07 PM

    SmartMeters! The emeter is a highly sophisticated thetan detector.

  33. Adam
    January 28, 2013 at 7:49 AM

    There is obviously no health risk though there is a potential (which does not mean actual) risk to security & privacy. e.g. if hackers could somehow obtain usage data they might figure out when people are home or not. Police might search for particular activity such as spikes associated with cannabis growers. etc.

    But on the other side, smart meters have the potential to notify users of their usage and encourage them to minimize it, saving them money.

  34. Jack
    January 28, 2013 at 11:40 AM

    I get exactly what you are saying. My point, perhaps explained poorly, was that I could see the black helicopter crowd proposing a conspiracy where the smart meters are used to snoop on a home wireless network. It honestly did not occur to me that the fear would be someone snooping on the wireless meter.

    Hacking the wireless meters would take a bit of skill, but I suppose a program could be written and distributed. Nothing that relies on processing and then holding data in memory is hackproof. Even hard-wired PCs can be wirelessly monitored through EMF and transmission line proximity.

    Yes, all of the main arguments against them have been silly. Plus, if as other replies have stated and these produce a powerful enough microwave radiation to kill plants in a certain radius, wooden homes would be drying out and falling apart. There would be arcing on ungrounded metal bits… The radiation required would be just a hair below that produced by your average mobile phone signal relay tower.

  35. Jack
    January 28, 2013 at 11:47 AM

    That’s a great deal of work and data collection just to set up. Maybe this would happen. However, if I wanted to monitor your comings and goings clandestinely, I’d just install a wireless camera with motion detectors and point it at your doors. I’d hack a local wireless network* and have the camera feed transmitted to a random server on a free website host. Then, I’d be able to get the same information from a relatively small activity report.

    *NOTE* As far as I know, these smart meters require a vehicle to drive by to collect the data. I suppose the next phase would be installing local nodes to allow for truly remote data collection.

  36. January 28, 2013 at 12:04 PM

    When I installed wifi in my home, my sister-in-law would not sleep in the house due to concerns about health effects and she claimed to be able to feel it when she came in the house. She slept on my front porch instead. Interestingly, she slept peacefully on the porch, where the wifi signal is much stronger than in the guest room. How’s that for an anecdote?

  37. January 28, 2013 at 12:51 PM

    Brawdo, It’s What Plants Love!

  38. Chew
    January 28, 2013 at 1:15 PM

    Brawndo has electrolytes.

  39. One Eyed Jack
    January 29, 2013 at 12:56 PM

    I am SO getting a meter today!

  40. January 29, 2013 at 2:45 PM

    Point taken.
    However, if you were employed by the power company, and had access to the potentially behavioural data they are collecting about everyone, and if you had a malevolent inclination, sifting the existing data for patterns would be relatively easy, and cost you nothing in terms of equipment. It would even be more anonymous than the less-than-scrupulous power company employee that has twice used my credit card information fraudulently, since it would appear merely to be a random event until a huge number of homes had been broken into.
    of course, not knowing how they secure their transmissions or their data, this is simply a speculation at this point.

  41. Rick
    January 30, 2013 at 11:34 AM

    In Inkster, Michigan (a suburb of Detroit) the City Council is requiring Detroit Edison to do “thorough testing” to make sure the WiFi signals do not affect people’s health.

    When I read it, I wondered if they were also going to ban the radio and tv transmissions in town?

  42. Daniel
    January 30, 2013 at 1:28 PM

    I work for a company that contracts with utility companies and does analysis on smart meter data. We use the data to try and identify patterns in usage, and provide information to the utilities and their customers to help drive efficiency. So while I can’t speak to the security of the devices themselves, I can tell you that even if someone manages to harvest this data it’s not so easy to use it.

    How most of these meters work is they read and store a value every 15 minutes (30 minutes in some cases but most are 15). So for a single day a meter will have 96 intervals, so around 35000 intervals in a year (DST and such will change exactly how many, but thats a whole different ball of wax). Anyway, that’s a pretty large data set. Now consider that you need to analyze that data to discover patterns and that you need months worth of data to do so. Monitoring thousands of customers and you quickly get a data set in the millions and billions of records. So you need a system that stores and analyzes a massive data set, and I can tell thats not cheap, because I do it for a living.

    And it gets ever harder, there are all sorts of patterns to consider in energy data, weather for example play a huge role in people energy use, so when doing analysis you have to take that into account. We employ mathematicians to figure out the equations that analyze interval data, so unless we see a rash of unemployed scientists that turn to thievery, I don’t think you’ll need to worry too much about people stealing smart meter data and using it to track you. It’s simply too expensive and too difficult to be a desirable means of spying on someone.

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