Illinois Residents Fight Back Against Smart Meters

Resisting smart meters installation in Illinois will prompt monthly fines. Residents in the state, much like their peers in other towns across America, are being forced to allow the controversial high-tech devices into their homes. The Obama administration began pushing for smart power and a smart grid in 2009. President Barack Obama wanted to use funds from the taxpayer funded stimulus bill to install 40 million smart meters around the country, according to NPR.

Last fall the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued a $14.3 million Smart Grid Technology grant for the furtherance of smart grid systems in rural parts of America. Smart meters allow instantaneous sharing of electrical usage data with power companies. Opponents of the smart grid devices have cited privacy issues, potential negative health effects, increased cost, and utility company manipulation of electrical usage with the often involuntary installation of the meters. Cyber hacking of smart meters to possibly overload and garner control of significant portions of the power grid is also an often voiced worry about the smart power initiative.

Excerpt from a National Institute of Standards and Technology report about smart meters and the smart grid:

“In the current operation of the electric utilities, data taken from traditional meters consists of basic data usage readings required to create bills. Under the smart grid implementation, smart meters will be able to collect other types of data. Some of this additional data may constitute personal information or may be used to determine personal activities. Because of the associated privacy risks, only the minimum amount of data necessary for services, provisioning, and billing should be collected.”

The latest smart meter battle is being fought by Commonwealth Edison (ComEd) customers governed by the Illinois Commerce Commission. The governmental agency said that customers fighting back against smart installation are merely “deferring the inevitable.” Customers who refuse to allow the smart grid to be placed inside their home will reportedly be charged an extra $21.53 per month. The commission attempted to justify the added fee to cover the salaries of meter readers to determine monthly bills. ComEd has is still arguing that the fee should be much higher.