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updated: 11/16/2011 1:25 PM

Naperville Smart Grid opponents seek referendum

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Members of the Naperville Smart Meter Awareness Group say they've been ignored long enough.

In an effort to show their support ranges beyond the half-dozen or so regular members who attend city council meetings, volunteers presented officials with a 4,199-signature petition Tuesday asking to place an advisory referendum on the March 20, 2012, primary ballot to "immediately and permanently stop the implementation of the city's $22 million Smart Grid project and dismantle all related equipment."

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The city's plan to install 57,000 smart meters in residences and businesses has drawn consistent opposition from the group, which has questioned the health risks of a system emitting radio frequencies, the security of the system against hackers and the cost to those who want to "opt out" of having the Smart Meter.

"I represent 4,200 people who signed petitions so their voices could be heard on Smart Meters," resident Jo Malik said. "I oppose spending $22 million to fix something that isn't broken. I believe it's fiscally irresponsible to commit to an expenditure of this size."

Resident Tom Glass said he believes people are appalled by the city's decision to move forward with the initiative it adopted in April 2010.

"I've personally talked to hundreds of people that are outraged," Glass said slamming the thick packet of signatures on the overhead projector. "I've also heard the city council members sit here and say there's a lot of misinformation being spread by residents of Naperville. The only misinformation that I'm aware of is being perpetuated right here."

City officials have maintained the installation of Smart Meters is safe and will be an effective tool to help both the city and its residents better monitor their electricity use and encourage them to change bad habits.

The city also is providing a nonwireless option for a one-time fee of $68 and monthly fee of $25 for residents who have concerns about privacy and the potential for cancer-causing radiation they believe can be emitted by the wireless models scheduled to be installed throughout the city beginning this month.

City Manager Doug Krieger said the group's petition was "still too fresh," to know how the city would proceed.

"If it were to be an advisory petition, the clerk would typically review the paperwork," he said. "I also know that our city attorney has not yet had time to review the documents but that would be required also."

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