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ComEd Gets Creative to sell Chicagoans on Smart Meters

A Smart Meter

Commonwealth Edison has begun informing consumers that it will begin moving from analog meter system which requires a meter reader to come and physically check the stats of meters to the smart grid, where information is sent electronically to a central system and allows for easier meter reading and collection of statistics on electricity use.

In an effort to promote this change and educate consumers, ComEd has deployed ice cream trucks to neighborhoods. One Sunday after church service let out, people were chatting about free ice cream being provided. The church I was attending is large and well known in the city, so it did not seem unusual that a parishioner or organization that had ties to the church would provide a sweet treat on a particularly hot day in Chicago. As I headed outside and approached the truck, the first thing I noticed was several people holding their ice cream. As the crowd thinned out, I observed several people in red shirts holding clipboards and talking to parishioners and handing out literature. My initial thought was that the ice cream giveaway was tied to a local charity. The deployment of individuals was also reminiscent of charities like Save the Children and others that do street canvassing and solicitation for donors. On closer observation of the ice cream truck while considering my options, I looked at the design and writings on the truck itself. It began to become clear to that the truck and ice cream were a front for ComEd. After this revelation, I opted to forgo my ice cream treat and headed back to my car stunned. Why would a company as large as ComEd take such measures to introduce the Smart Grid to consumers? Some might argue that they felt that they were being relational and attempting to provide information via a medium ComEd assumed was familiar to people in that neighborhood and that African Americans would receive the information better via an ice cream man and helpers. Others would argue that ComEd is aware of the strong opposition to the installation of Smart Meters by several national and local organizations and is trying to counter their momentum by attracting vulnerable communities, organizations and groups with political ties and strong influence to and counter their efforts.

Organizations like Stop Smart Meters have held rallies, informational sessions and provided numerous testimonials on their website about the dangers of Smart Meters. Health issues included migraine headaches, nose bleeds, cancer and sleep disorders. Other concerns include disruptions to home security systems, fires and explosions. They also note that once Smart Meters have been installed, electric companies are very resistant to remove them.

For the past few years, Naperville Smart Meter Awareness has been organizing against the installation of Smart Meters and educating their community about the possible hazards related to their growing presence. They are currently offering a film for consumers to watch at a minimal charge called “Take Back the Power” to educate consumers about Smart Meters, risks and ways to educate themselves and others.

For additional information on the ComEd Smart Meter progra, follow the link below:

For additional information from Stop Smart Meters, follow the link below:

For additional information on Naperville Smart Meter Awareness, follow the link below:

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