Naperville PURPA Hearing “Summary Comments”

Documentation provided by this webpage consists of an excerpt of written comments provided to the City of Naperville, Illinois, as part of a public proceeding conducted by the City of Naperville, Illinois (the City) in March 2013 held pursuant to Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978.  This type of public proceeding is commonly referred to as a “PURPA hearing.”  Comments pertain to the Naperville Smart Grid Initiative (NSGI).

Summary Comments

What will the City do with my comments and the comments of others submitted as a part of the PURPA hearings in Naperville?  Since it has already spent millions of dollars on a project with little or no formal public accountability, one approach for the City will be to rationalize away well-founded concerns and comments.  There will be a natural tendency for the City Council to continue moving forward, maybe even first thanking people for their comments provided during the PURPA hearing process.  Maybe the City Council will decide that somehow “the end justifies the means.”

I am reminded at this time by statements made by the Naperville City Manager, on February 21, 2012, after he listened to several residents voice concerns over the smart grid system at a City Council meeting:

“Differences of opinion are OK.  You have heard a lot of, kind of, one side of the story here.  There is another side to the story and that has been provided.  One of the things that I think is important to understand that is when you look at some highlighted passages it is very easy to take something out of context.  The concerns that were raised tonight are serious.  They are being taken seriously by City Council, but we are not really hearing new evidence that would cause myself to recommend a change to the City Council at this time.”

At some point, we have to ask, “How much new evidence would it take for the City Council to ‘change’ its course”?

Based upon the City Manager’s prior comments, he and other fellow City Council members may likely state that my PURPA hearing comments are a series of highlighted passages taken out of context.  The problem with that possible assertion, however, is that I could continue to write ad infinitum on this subject.  For purposes of “brevity,” I have managed to limit my total comments during this hearing process to something like 30 pages or so.   Through links provided as a part of my comments, there are probably hundreds of additional pages of “evidence” that could be reviewed by the City Council that would support my claims and assertions.  At some point, I would hope that a prudent person would finally agree that the arguments I have put forward have gone well beyond the threshold of excerpts taken out of context.  Moreover, it is not that the Naperville City Council needs to “hear new evidence,” it just needs to properly evaluate and assimilate existing evidence and then enthusiastically implement measures that are necessary to address plausible consumer concerns and to restore and uphold the personal rights of its residents.

So rather than listening to its Legal Department on how to limit liability or asking for advice on how to continue to move forward on its current ill-advised course, I ask the City Council to do what is truly fair and in the best interest of its residents.

Actually, I could ask that the City Council to just apply the advice given in an article written by [City Council Member] Robert W. Fieseler.  Mr. Fieseler wrote an interesting article in “Appliance Design,” in September 2012.   The content of his article included the following statement:  “Despite the tendency … to dismiss these [smart meter] opponents as tinfoil hat-wearing paranoids, some of their concerns turn out to be quite legitimate.”

What was somewhat surprising about the article was its balance in discussing the smart meter-related issues which Mr. Fieseler listed as health risks, rate gouging, privacy, and security.

On the issue of health risks, it was stated that “For every study that shows smart meters and smart appliances produce a fraction of the radiofrequency emissions of microwaves … and other wireless devices, there’s a study that shows they’re just as or even more dangerous.”

On the subject of privacy, Mr. Fieseler, for example, mentioned that smart meter “data has value in legal proceedings, when evidence of a customer’s activities can prove or disprove certain propositions.”

On security, Mr. Fieseler stated that “it’s easy to see that those same portals and communication paths could be hacked into by those intending to cause mischief and worse, those intending to cause damage.”

Advice given to appliance designers by Mr. Fieseler was that “Marginalizing the opponents and disputing their reasoning accomplishes nothing more than turning them into non-customers.”  Appliance designers were advised to “listen to smart grid opponents and accommodate their legitimate concerns.”

Sounds like good advice.

In trying to reconcile Mr. Fieseler’s article with his past positions as a member of the City Council regarding the AMI deployment in Naperville, I am drawn towards the use of the word legitimate.  He explains that some smart meter concerns are quite legitimate and that legitimate concerns should be accommodated.

Possibly Mr. Fieseler has a different definition for the word legitimate than myself.  Based upon the context and usage of the term in his article, I would expect the definitions that would apply for legitimate would be:  “based on logical reasoning; reasonable” and “authentic; genuine: as in a legitimate complaint.”  Synonyms for the term legitimate include: acknowledged, appropriate, cogent, consistent, fair, genuine, just, justifiable, lawful, logical, natural, normal, official, on the level, on the up and up, proper, real, reasonable, recognized, reliable, rightful, sensible, sound, verifiable, warranted, and well-founded.

As an electric consumer in Naperville, I am currently seeking relief for genuine and warranted concerns regarding an AMI deployment that subjects the consumer to additional burdens and risks to which I have not given consent.  I have provided well-founded and reasonable arguments based upon cogent and logical reasoning with the intention of reaching a sensible and sound solution.  I have consistently used terms in my arguments that have included prudent, fair, and appropriate.

In conclusion, I have demonstrated a “legitimate complaint” and am seeking a proper, just, and “legitimate accommodation.”

As I have shown from previous correspondence from March 4, March 13, and now March 18, 2013, as we review each possible relevant topic, whether it be issues related to invasion of privacy, data security, RF emissions, consent issues for smart meter installations, opt-out fees, overall health impact, and the accuracy and reliability of the societal benefit calculations, there are serious questions to be resolved before the City can consider itself in compliance or even meeting the spirit of what is expected by the Federal Energy Standards.

The City should immediately suspend activities related to its smart grid initiative until all issues are adequately addressed to the benefit of the consumer stakeholders.  In particular, the current [Advanced] Metering Infrastructure (AMI) must be completely reconsidered in order to ensure adequate conformance with the EPACT and EISA Federal Standards as well as address consumer stakeholder issues.  In the meantime, upon request of consumers, and as a remedial action, it is necessary that analog electrical usage meters be returned to those requesting them.  Continued usage of analog meters or the non-wireless meter alternative (NWMA) must be done without imposition of any associated fees.

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