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updated: 7/24/2012 5:56 PM

Naperville 75 percent done with smart meter installations

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Naperville electric officials are crediting dry weather and few technical glitches with the rapid pace of smart meter installations in the city.

As of Tuesday afternoon, contractors have installed 42,520, or 73 percent, of the 59,712 meters scheduled to be installed on every residential and commercial building in the city.

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The installation of wireless smart meters is part of a $22 million Smart Grid Initiative in Naperville. Officials say the project is a safe upgrade to the city's $360 million electric network to provide more efficient, cost-effective and reliable service to customers.

So far, city senior electrical engineer Cyrus Ashrafi said the installation has gone better than expected.

"We're on target to reach our October goal, for sure. We'll have some punch-list items to wrap up, but by and large the work will be done," Ashrafi said. "The deployment has gone very well, mostly because our installers have been diligent and professional. The weather has also allowed us to work regularly."

There have been some challenges, however, as 700 customers have sent installers away, declining to accept the new digital meters.

Opponents have, for the past year, cited health, security and privacy concerns about the wireless meters.

In March, the Illinois Appellate Court struck down an attempt by the Naperville Smart Meter Awareness Group to have the installation issue put on the March 20 primary election ballot.

The organization also has an ongoing federal lawsuit seeking to give individual homeowners the right to refuse to have a smart meter installed on their homes.

The group's attorney, Doug Ibendahl, did not return calls Tuesday, but city attorney Margo Ely said the lawsuit is next up in federal court on Aug. 16. The city anticipates a ruling on its motion for the case to be dismissed.

In the meantime, Councilman Robert Fieseler said the city is keeping and cataloging all the wired meters being removed from houses and businesses, "just in case," the judge rules against the city.

Ashrafi, however, said the city's plan always has been to keep the meters for an undisclosed time "in case any issues arise."

Once the undisclosed date passes, Ashrafi said the city will seek to sell the old wired meters. If a buyer is not found, he said, they will be disposed of or recycled.

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