Illinois Appellate Court dismissed Naperville Smart Grid Initiative Referendum Appeal
City continues to respond to Appeals, Federal Lawsuit filed by Smart Meter Awareness Group
NAPERVILLE, Ill. — The Illinois Appellate Court issued a decision today upholding previous legal rulings that found a proposed advisory referendum regarding the Naperville Smart Grid Initiative (NSGI) was ineligible to appear on the March 20, 2012, Illinois primary ballot.
NSGI opponents filed the appeal with the Illinois Appellate Court challenging the decision of Naperville’s Local Electoral Board, which found a referendum petition submitted in November 2011did not include the required number of valid signatures to be placed on the primary ballot. The proposed nonbinding referendum question stated “Shall the City of Naperville immediately and permanently stop the implementation of the $22 million smart meter project and dismantle all related equipment?”
The Local Electoral Board’s decision was initially upheld by the Eighteenth Judicial Circuit Court prior to the opponents filing the Appellate Court appeal. Arguments made to the Appellate Court included allegations that the Local Electoral Board was biased and violated the Open Meetings Act and that reversal of the decision to remove the referendum question was necessary to ensure proper proceedings would occur in the future. The Appellate Court dismissed the appeal as moot since early voting for the Illinois primary is already underway.
“What the order does not say is as important as what the order does say,” Local Election Board attorney Margo Ely said in the press release. “It is apparent that the Appellate Court did not view opponents’ allegations of misconduct, bias and improper procedure as meritorious. The Appellate Court made the right decision, as did the Circuit Court and the Electoral Board.”
The City continues to respond to eight appeals and a federal lawsuit filed by representatives of the Naperville Smart Meter Awareness Group. The appeals are pending with the Illinois Attorney General; one matter specifically being reviewed is a complaint that the Local Electoral Board violated the Open Meetings Act by allegedly meeting in secret to review voter records. The Local Electoral Board has filed a response to this complaint stating specific dates and times that individual board members reviewed submitted evidence, which is not a violation of the Open Meetings Act.
“The Board members legally reviewed the evidence submitted,” Ely said. “The allegations have no merit and in due course, justice will again prevail. I remain confident that the federal lawsuit will also be dismissed by the court system.”
To date, the City has responded to almost 130 FOIA requests from the Naperville Smart Meter Awareness Group, providing thousands of documents and e-mails and hearing their thoughts at more than 18 City Council meetings within the past year.
“We are currently responding to complaints filed with the Illinois Attorney General, the Illinois Pollution Control Board, federal court and, until today, the state appellate court,” City Manager Doug Krieger said. “We remain confident that this project is the right thing to do for our customers. It is time to agree to disagree.”
The NSGI is an upgrade of the City’s $360 million electric network to provide more efficient, cost-effective and reliable service to customers and empower them with more information on their energy usage. The City reports that the project remains on time, within budget and on course. Naperville has received several accolades for its leadership in the nationwide move to automated electric grids, including the creation of the NSGI Customer Bill of Rights, the NSGI Ambassador Program and the Customer Privacy and Advocacy Handbook.
For more information on the NSGI, visit www.naperville.il.us/smartgrid.aspx.
For more information on the City of Naperville, visit www.naperville.il.us. Sign up to receive the latest news on the City of Naperville’s projects and initiatives via e-mail at www.naperville.il.us/enews.aspx.
—Received March 6, 2012
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About Naperville: Located 28 miles west of Chicago, Naperville, Ill., is home to approximately 145,000 people. This vibrant, thriving city consistently ranks as a top community in the nation in which to live, raise children and retire. The city is home to acclaimed public and parochial schools, the best public library system in the country, an array of healthcare options and an exceptionally low crime rate. Naperville has ready access to a variety of public transportation, housing and employment options. The city’s diversified employer base features high technology firms, retailers and factories, as well as small and home-based businesses. Residents also enjoy world-class parks, diverse worship options, the opportunity to serve on several City boards and commissions, a thriving downtown shopping and dining area, a renowned outdoor history museum known as Naper Settlement and an active civic community. For more information, please visit our website at www.naperville.il.us.
About the Naperville Smart Grid Initiative: The Naperville Smart Grid Initiative (NSGI) will prepare Naperville for an increased demand on the City’s electrical grid and the future of energy conservation. This an investment in Naperville’s City-owned utility that will modernize the electric grid using current technology to give residential and business utility customers more choices about how they use electricity and more control over what they pay for it. It will also provide increased reliability, reduced operating costs, improved efficiency and reduced waste.