by Sandy Glass, guest columnist for Take Back Your Power
The City of Naperville (CON), which became infamous in 2013 for arresting two moms protecting their families and homes from the mandatory installation of smart meters, now faces financial hardship at the government owned Electric Utility. According to policy, the Utility needs to maintain $11M in cash reserves for emergencies. Ironically, the missing $11M was the city’s portion of the “smart meter” costs forced upon citizens, with police escorts. CON denies the coincidence, blaming instead power costs.
CON also faces a $14M operating deficit. CON’s highly proclaimed $30 M “savings” that the mandatory smart meters installation promised, has now turned into a $30M loss — a net swing of $60 M.
The publicized consumer benefit of the ability to monitor their power has also vanished, along with $800,000 to a vendor who failed to provide the e-portal, which CON is now suing.
Additionally, CON is now saying that the rate study that the city had contracted was flawed resulting in proposed new rate hikes between 7-10% that will be required to attempt to balance the budget. Customers of CON’s Water Utility had their water and water treatment rates hiked, leaving the Water Utility with a $13M cash surplus. Instead of rebating the excess cash to the water customers, CON is considering lending those excess funds to the financially troubled Electric Utility. Residents now face high water rates, nosebleed electric rates, $8.7 M decrease in capital spending of their infrastructure and implementation time-of-use (TOU) billing for their top 20 corporations (a hospital, school districts, grocery and CON itself among them) to reduce peak usage.
CON states that time TOU billing will financially incentivize users to shift usage to off/peak periods. Reduced peaks, they claim, will improve load factor and save both the Electric Utility and consumers money. Isn’t this economically rationing power so homeowners and business will not be able to use their property according to their needs, unless they pay 2-4 times more for power? Who will suffer the most? The retired, sick, disabled, families with young children, all home during the day – “peak hours.” Most are on fixed incomes or entry level salaries, who will be forced to curtail their necessary daily activities to save their paychecks or pay for their groceries. The wealthy, however, will be able to continue the use of their homes even during the “peak demand” periods.
In 2012, CON fought and won against their own citizens, a non-binding referendum denying over 4,000 citizens who signed a petition to voice their opinion on the “smart meter” fiasco. Instead of listening to the concerned citizens who saw this financial disaster coming, they had police surrounding Council Chambers when they spoke, attended their meetings, treated the citizens abysmally at public meetings, and had police escorts to private property to force the meter installation. CON is gouging consumers who have chosen the non-wireless smart matter option $24.95/month as a penalty against those who want to protect their health, safety and privacy.
During the build out of the smart grid, CON’s website was hacked, shutting it down for almost a month. There has been no public information as to the perpetrator nor reason for the outage.
Will the people of Naperville be continuing pay the price for this incompetence, or will the managers supervising and directing the Utility be discharged?
City of Naperville Electric Utility, IT-ERP update, CPF and Mayor’s Compensation