FILED IN: Safety

Illinois moms arrested for refusing 'smart meters'

Jennifer Stahl (left) and Malia “Kim” Bendis (right) arrested in upscale Chicago suburb for protesting and preventing installation of smart meter. Mug shot via Naperville Police.

Two Naperville, Ill. moms were arrested on Wednesday after protesting the installation of smart meters, the electric company’s new meter technology which allows the utility company to monitor electric usage though wireless technology.

Jennifer Stahl was one of the moms arrested after she reportedly interfered with a police officer after she stood in front of her old meter to prevent the utility company from installing the new one. Stahl reportedly kept her back yard locked down with warning signs throughout her property in effort to stop the installation of a smart meter.

Another neighborhood mom, Malia “Kim” Bendis was also arrested for eavesdropping and resisting a police officer. Bendis also video-taped the incident.

It is not clear why the women are so adamantly opposed to the meters, but several groups have organized throughout the U.S., opposing the meters for several reasons. Opponents believe the new devices are a violation of privacy, allowing the electric company to spy and micromanage their electric usage at any given time. Other complaints have to do with health concerns. Opponents also believe the devices carry a high level of radiation from the RF (Radio Frequency) technology, which they claim to be a carcinogenic. These claims have been disputed by several studies which determined the radio frequency exposure to be below FCC guidelines.

An organization called the Naperville Smart Meter Awareness group has filed a federal lawsuit challenging the forced installation of these new meters. Ms. Stahl is a part of the lawsuit and believes the utility company should wait until the court hears their case before proceeding with the rest of the meter installations.

Jen Stahl claims that she has a right to refuse the new meters, as the device is on her property. Naperville police say that Ms. Stahl needs to take her objections to court or file a complaint with the city, but she cannot prevent utility workers from doing their jobs, as she has been doing for the last two years in the upscale community outside of Chicago. The utility company says that they have jurisdiction over their equipment in any given community and that residents agree to allow for equipment upgrades, maintenance and access when they buy their homes.