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‘Smart Meter’ Installations Generate Health Concerns In Naperville

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A new "smart meter" installed on a Naperville home. (CBS)

A new “smart meter” installed on a Naperville home. (CBS)

Pamela Jones Pamela Jones
Pamela Jones serves as a general assignment reporter for CBS 2...
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NAPERVILLE, Ill. (CBS) — It’s a multi-million dollar plan one suburb says will save money and time.

The “smart grid initiative” is already under way in Naperville, with workers installing high-tech electric meters in thousands of homes.

But one group of residents is saying no to the plan, and they’re angry with the city.

CBS 2′s Pamela Jones reports.

“I feel angry. I really feel like the city does not care,” resident Maggie Wood says.

She says she had signs up on her property saying she did not want Naperville’s new smart utility meter. But workers installed it, anyway.

She’s one of many residents upset Naperville is installing some 57,000 new digital utility meters.

City officials say the new meters will benefit consumers.

“What we’re doing with our Smart Grid Initiative Project is taking an old, aging infrastructure and utilizing to create more efficiency, more reliability, more dependability,” city spokeswoman Nadja Lalvani says.

But a group called Naperville Smart Meter Awareness disagrees. They say the program is being pushed on them without regard for their safety or privacy.

“I own the house, so I should be able to say what goes on my house,” resident Kim Bendis says.

The group says the meters continuously transmit information on energy usage, using radio frequency signals that they say could threaten their health and security.

“Knowing these risks, is that something that we should have to incur on our families?” Bendis says.

The city says its plan lives up to federal security requirements and it has tested the devices for safety.

“One would have to sit in front of their smart meter for 100 years to receive the equivalent radio frequency emission from a three minute cell phone call,” Lalvani says.

But that may not be enough for residents watching the meters get installed without their permission.

The city says it has had meetings, and sent out notices telling residents when to expect the new meters. And an alternative meter that doesn’t send a constant signal is being offered to those who have health concerns.

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