Naperville woman talks about Smart Meter arrests

January 24, 2013 3:16:29 PM PST
They were arrested for interfering with the installation of so called Smart Meters at their homes.

Thursday evening, one of the two Naperville women arrested is speaking out about their opposition to Naperville's utility program that the city says will make its electric system more efficient and economical.

Controversy in Naperville this week as citizens, armed with video cameras, fight workers, and ultimately, City Hall.

Some residents are upset because the city is replacing analog electric meters with Smart Meters, which can be wireless or non-wireless. The city says the new electric system will save citizens money.

"The system is safe and we will be installing, replacing 100 percent of the meters that are out there," said Naperville City Manager Doug Krieger.

But there are holdouts. Jennifer Stahl was arrested and charged with two misdemeanors on Wednesday. She says she could only watch as workers broke her gate lock, entered her backyard and changed the meter.

"I completely feel violated and my property has been modified without my permission," Stahl said.

Police also arrested Kim Bendis. She was charged her with two misdemeanors after she challenged workers. The two women are part of the Naperville Smart Meter Awareness Group, which has filed a federal lawsuit against the city.

They are concerned about privacy, security, health and financial issues, and personal property rights. So what's most important?

"That's like asking me to pick my favorite child," Stahl said. "All the issues are important to me."

Overall, city officials say 99 percent of the Smart Meters have been installed and most residents comply.

"It really doesn't matter to me," said Naperville resident Brian Barkstorm. "I'm just one of those guys who pays the bills and tries to get by."

Ultimately, however, the courts will decide who stands on the right side of the law, the city or the citizens who are fighting.