Naperville to host Smart Grid open house

Few Naperville projects have been under the public microscope in recent months as much as the city’s $22 million Smart Grid Initiative.

The city will sponsor a public open house from 4:30 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, April 26, at the Electric Service Center, 1392 Aurora Ave. It will allow residents to ask questions they may have regarding safety and privacy concerns as well as learn how the system is expected to help the city better regulate its power supply.

Proponents believe getting on the Smart Grid will better prepare the city for increased demand and the future of energy conservation. Opponents have been asking the city to put the brakes on the planned November installation of Smart Meters until more research is done on the safety of the wireless emissions and privacy concerns stemming from the meters collecting data on how each household uses energy.

“There will be demonstrations and posters and videos and countless information on all of those topics,” said Smart Grid steering committee member and Councilman Bob Fieseler. “Representatives from the U.S. Department of Energy and all of the involved vendors will also be on hand to answer those questions.”

The Smart Grid is a $22 million upgrade to Naperville’s nearly $360 million electric utility that officials believe will cut energy costs for the city and its residents.

Naperville is one of roughly 100 communities nationwide to pursue the new technology and the only municipality in the state selected for a Smart Grid Investment Grant by the U.S. Department of Energy from more than 500 applicants.

When completed in 2012, it will include more than 57,000 “smart meters” that will help the city and residents track energy use. Officials hope the ability to monitor such use will encourage residents to consume less energy or use it during off-peak hours.

Additionally, customers will have access to new tools, if they choose to use them, that will empower them to better understand and manage their energy use. A new ePortal website soon will be launched to allow customers to view their energy use while learning about energy and money-saving options, additional voluntary rate programs that provide incentives for shifting energy use and enabling home electric vehicle charging stations.

All attendees must bring a photo ID and sign in because the open house will include tours of sensitive electric utility operations.

More information on the initiative and the future of electricity is available at