Yan Cohen


UK Labour Party Suckered by Big Energy

Liverpool, UK – UPDATED 15.55 9/10/23 – The opposition Labour Party has launched its policy on modernising the grid.  It plays into the hands of the Energy Industry, and is set to be a disastrous and expensive mistake that will leave the UK dependent on foreign energy for the next decade and beyond.

The wrong-turn on energy policy was announced today at annual conference by failed former party leader Ed Milliband. The proposals will feature heavily in Labour’s election campaign.

The party aims to establish a UK electricity system fully based on clean power by 2030, with the largest expansion of renewable power in Britain’s history, and establish “GB Energy”, a publicly owned energy company announced by party leader Keir Starmer last year.

Labour intends it becomes law soon after a general election win. One source said the act showcased “modern public ownership, working with the private sector without the need to nationalise”. The history of private-public partnership in the UK is that it usually results in cost overuns, excessive bonuses and profits for the private partner, and endless delays in major projects.

In his speech on Monday, Miliband, the shadow secretary of state for energy security and net zero, rightly attacked the Conservatives’ record on energy security, saying the UK was the most exposed economy in western Europe to the energy price spike caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, telling Labour party conference: “You’re paying record energy bills because they left us exposed to Putin’s war. Every time they turn their back on a clean energy future, they leave us exposed to global fossil fuel markets, at the mercy of dictators and petrostates, driving up bills, making us more insecure.”

But the decision to play Big Energy at its own game is doomed to failure because of shortage of supply of the miles of copper cable needed to roll out the national grid to contain up to 300 Gigawatts of renewable energy currently planned, not to mention 150 Gw of new demand from planned housing estates and other developments.  Meanwhile, local energy initiatives, which would bypass the grid and allow much faster rollout of new energy supplies have been sidelined

Milliband’s biggest round of applause came when he announced £1b a year for local renewable power owned by local people. A great initiative, but it costs £30bn to build a nuclear power station currently planned. Why so little for local energy? And over what period is it being budgeted?
A speaker from the floor added that an incoming Labor government would spend £6bn per year on a “Warm homes plan £6bn a year “for the next 10 years, to cut bills, and cut emissions.”

Milliband had already stated where the bulk of Labour’s energy investment will be focused – floating off-shore wind-farms. And that means large centralised, slow-moving projects, dependent on the same utility companies that caused the …

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Maui fires driven by wind but started by power lines

Utility Co. Probable Cause of Maui Fires

Multiple outlets are reporting that Hawaii’s main utility faces scrutiny for not cutting power to reduce fire risks on Maui in the hours before the tragic blaze that swept Lahaina.

Hawaiian Electric did not have a plan — such as those in California — to power down its electric lines in advance of high winds. Doug McLeod, a former energy commissioner for Maui County, said the utility was aware of the need for a regular shut-down system and to bury lines, especially given the “number of close calls in the past.”

“Hawaiian Electric, the utility that oversees Maui Electric and provides service to 95 percent of the state’s residents, did not deploy what’s known as a public power shutoff plan,” reported the Washington Post over the weekend.

Intentionally cutting off electricity to areas where big wind events could spark fires is a widely-used safety strategy ever since what were then the nation’s most destructive and deadliest fires, in 2017 and 2018.

The state’s electric utility responded with some preemptive steps but did not use what is widely regarded as the most aggressive but effective safety measure: shutting down the power.

Hawaiian Electric was aware that a power shut-off was an effective strategy, documents show, but had not adopted it as part of its fire mitigation plans, according to the company and two former power and energy officials interviewed by The Washington Post. Nor, in the face of predicted dangerous winds, did it act on its own, utility officials said, fearing uncertain consequences.

The decision to avoid shutting off power is reflective of the utility’s struggles to bolster its aging and vulnerable infrastructure against wildfires, said Jennifer Potter, who lives in Lahaina and was a member of the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission until just nine months ago.

“They were not as proactive as they should have been,” Potter said about Hawaiian Electric’s fire-prevention planning, adding that there had not been any real meaningful action to “address some of those inadequacies in terms of wildfire.”

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Autonomous village for sale in Colombia

What we are offering…

A unique opportunity to acquire a ready-made Eco-Village / Community farm established over 20 years ago and planted with a variety of fruit trees, medicinal plants of all types; bushes, vines, trees etc.

This farm has been built as a community/Eco-village making it ideal for an eco-community project or as an eco-tourism investment.

It is situated on the edge of the famed “Mazico Colombiano” a scenic highland area where the River Magdalena has its source. This area is home to the internationally recognized World Heritage site of the Statues of San Agustin; hundreds of stone sculptures remains of a pre-Colombian indigenous civilization, on a par with places like Machu Pichu, Peru or Tiwanako in Bolivia, in terms of archeological significance.

The scenery is spectacular in this area with canyons, fast flowing rivers, mountain cloud forests and many more sites of interest for nature lovers.

Despite Colombia’s history of conflict and social unrest, which officially ended in 2015 with the signing of a peace deal between the government and the left-wing guerrillas, the area of San Agustin, Pitalito is peaceful with a vibrant rural economy. It is a center for Sugar Cane and Coffee production, with the coffee beans produced in the area highly recognized for their flavor and aroma.

Furthermore, San Agustin has one of the best local markets for a huge variety of agricultural products of all types from exotic tropical fruits to all kinds of vegetables, beans and grains. There is also a large variety of locally made arts & crafts

Know the area…

San Agustin – Ancestral Center

Photo Gallery

Eco-Village Photos


Access and Transport

The farm itself is situated on a pleasant hillside overlooking abundant coffee plantations. Access is via a secondary road about 2km from the main Pitalito – San Agustin road. The access road is not fully paved but is in a good state of repair and is being constantly improved due to the gestation of the local community.

The main Pitalito – San Agustin road is well serviced by public transport. From Pitalito it is a 10 hour bus journey to Bogota and 4 hours to Neiva the departmental capital.


Our farm is located at 1400 meters above sea level, in the foothills leading up to the Macizo Colombiano.  The climate is warm and tropical usually with a refreshing breeze thanks to its height.  The dry season is December to February, the wet season is May to July but in reality most of the time there is a good mix or rain and sun. Temperatures are on average between 18 and 22 °C in the day except when there is more rain when it gets cooler. Night-time temperatures rarely drop below 10 °C and often can be pleasantly warm without it ever being uncomfortable.


The community houses have all been self-built in a variety of …

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A smart meter unable to display the correct data

Smart Meters – Dumb Install

From 2010 onwards, off-grid.net ran stories about smart meters – like this one –  predicting that the meters would be an expensive failure.  Finally the world is  coming around to our way of thinking.

The introduction of smart meters was bungled pretty well everywhere – but especially in the UK and Australia – where weak and incompetent regulators were at the mercy of lobbyists, and any talented opposition was quickly hired by the Utility companies.

Even the Financial Times now agrees that the UK “has made dumb mess of (the) £13.5bn smart meter scheme.” Calling it a  “vital project for future of energy,” the FT says  it isone of the UK’s most expensive infrastructure projects, is four years behind schedule and is expected to exceed its initial budget.

The UK government announced in 2008 that energy suppliers would be responsible for fitting smart meters. Fifteen years later, 32mn of  57mn meters in UK homes and small businesses are smart devices. The government initially estimated it would cost £13.5bn for energy suppliers. Companies would recover their costs via customer energy bills and deliver £19.5bn in benefits. Those estimates were in 2011 money and do not account for recent high inflation.

The problems with the smart meter rollout have been many and varied. Some early models stopped working. Others displayed false and very high readings. They are not suitable for certain areas and buildings where there is poor mobile coverage. The list goes on. Ministers wanted the programme to complete in 2019. Even before the pandemic, the government admitted the finish date could be as late as 2024. Earlier this year, ministers consulted on revised targets for suppliers to install meters in at least 80 per cent of homes, and 73 per cent of small businesses, by the end of 2025.

Those in charge of smart meter programmes at energy suppliers think even the revised targets are unrealistic. Households that are inclined to make the switch have mostly already done so, they say. They are now faced with trying to persuade sceptical households or those that have yet to even engage with their inquiries. Adding to these difficulties, some smart meters will need to be updated when 2G and 3G networks are phased out in the early part of next decade.

Energy companies will increasingly be able to offer households with smart meters tariffs that are cheaper if energy is used off-peak. Smart meters could be made a requirement for all new homes. Remarkably that is not the case. They could also change the rating system for energy performance certificates to include smart meters, which could tempt homeowners seeking to sell their property.

Smart meters have become emblematic of the incompetence and inefficiency of the electricity industry both in the UK and worldwide.

But there is one further criticism that we did not think of in 2009, and in fact only occurred …

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Biden turns away from community-owned energy

Biden turns away to Build back better signA new video from the US Department of Electricity has confirmed the Biden Administration is committed to keeping the existing Utility companies in business with huge subsidies.

The Inflation Reduction Act is trying to cement the present power structure in place – with large companies and the government owning and operating 90% of the country’s electricity supply, according to the new video. (Story continues after the video..)

But out in the real world huge numbers of food plants, server farms and community groups are doing their own thing. And in many cases they are unable to connect to the grid . There is a long waiting list in the USA, and in most countries – up to 10 years in some cases.

Meanwhile, people want to reduce their energy bills now, and control their own power supply. The best way is to keep a small foothold on the grid, and provide most of your energy locally.

These “microgrids” can and should trade directly with each other outside of the wider grid.

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UK Energy Policy – No Boost For Prosumers

London – 29 March – The UK government will reportedly unveil new proposals on “Energy Security Day” tomorrow, aimed at hitting net zero by 2050. Sources say Prime Minister Sunak will unveil plans for more oil licenses and Carbon Capture schemes, and a revamped net zero strategy in Aberdeen, the UK’s oil capital. The event has been renamed from “Green Day” to emphasise a reduced commitment to carbon reduction in the short term.

Energy Secretary Grant Shapps will announce a consultation on a new system of “carbon border taxes” to protect UK manufacturers from countries with lax environmental rules, but this will hobble the British economy unless it is accompanied by subsidies for the UK’s own local battery production plants and solar panel manufacturing.

Off-Grid.net has come up with detailed plan to launch initiatives in this area, but the UK government is ignoring the role of households in the energy security plans and focusing solely on “Big Energy.”

Off-Grid.net calls on Shapps to recognise that 100,000 local projects serving a few hundred homes each can produce far better results, far more quickly and easily, than a handful of huge projects serving millions of homes each.

The government’s carbon border taxes will initially target energy-intensive products like batteries and solar panels, as well as hydrogen from non-EU countries, to ensure a “level playing field” for domestic producers and encourage other countries to switch to renewables. But there are no domestic producers of solar panels or batteries.

The government will also offer grants worth hundreds of pounds to middle-income households to make their homes more energy efficient under the new “Great British insulation scheme”. That is a welcome contribution to reducing consumption. But energy production is being reserved for the larger players, companies like National Grid, which is slowing down the race to Net Zero in the same way BT slowed down the the rollout of high-speed fibre and set back the UK Internet by a decade.

The Financial Times reports that a price floor could be imposed for the windfall tax on oil and gas producers, meaning that energy businesses will be guaranteed no windfall tax if the price drops below a certain level.

North Sea firms have expressed concern around the lack of a price floor for the 35% levy – meaning firms would still be facing a total 75% tax rate if oil and gas prices drop.

Imposing a floor has been a key ask of trade body Offshore Energies UK.

It is expected that an announcement on Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) could also made, according to the Guardian.

That comes as ministers have promised an update on the Track 2 funding – which the Acorn development in Aberdeenshire is banking on – before the end of the month.

It also comes a week after Jeremy Hunt announced a £20bn package for the technology in his budget.…

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Upper Coquetdale in the Coquet Valley, Alnwinton

Uk’s Most Unspoilt Area To Be Wrecked By Utility Company Plans

Plans have been lodged that could see properties in one of Northumberland’s most rural areas connected to the electricity grid for the first time. There are believed to be around 350 families across Northumberland living off-grid, with no utility bills, and able to enjoy the night sky with no light pollution.

Lobbyists from the power company say children are bathing in streams and doing homework using headtorches, while people struggle with basic household tasks. The local council and the local Utility company are conducting a PR blitz to persuade residents to go along with the scheme. Families are being quoted thousands of pounds by power companies to be connected to the grid. Write to us if you oppose the scheme – email: news@off-grid.net

Northern Powergrid yesterday outlined the plans that could see mains electricity delivered to properties in Upper Coquetdale in the Coquet Valley, Alnwinton.

The firm is looking to install overhead lines that will be intercepted by interconnecting underground cables in the Northumberland National Park, which will secure an electricity supply to off-grid properties and three emergency cell masts.

The plans have been lodged with Northumberland National Park for consultation before being submitted to the Secretary of State of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy for a final decision.

The application has received a few letters of support with one person writing: “I thoroughly support connecting electricity to homes in the Coquet Valley, my family have farmed there for over 60 years and have had to manage on a diesel generator and power minder batteries, which is ridiculous in this day and age ,the cost of running generated electricity is astronomical.

“My family have been campaigning for mains electricity for many years, I hope at last this will be happening, although I will not benefit as I have retired from the business.”

Another wrote: “There are many homes across rural Northumberland that were never connected to the mains electricity grid many decades ago because it was just too expensive.

“I urge you to approve this scheme, our rural community deserves to be on grid after all these years.”

Rothbury councillor Steven Bridgett said residents and organisations have been working for many years to address the issue.

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Converted Underground Bunker Near Austin – $425k

Salado, Texas – 11th March – – A partially underground bunker house has gone up for sale in a small town near Austin, for sale in Texas.

Any Texan will be quick to tell you that the weather in the Lone Star state can be somewhat chaotic — from temperatures rapidly dropping 40 degrees within a two-minute span to terrifying tornadoes that touch down from time to time. So it’s always a good idea to have a home that’s safe, secure, and — well — partially underground.

The two-bedroom, 2.5-bathroom house is on the real estate market in Salado for $425,000.

“Here’s an amazing one-of-a-kind partially submerged earth-type concrete OFF-GRID capable home on .939 acre with two private gated entrances,” the listing on Har.com says. “The property is incredibly picturesque, heavily wooded and partially sloped with a seasonal stream far below the home and views of a pond.”

According to the listing, the home was custom-built with “a southwestern vibe” thanks to the first owners’ love of Santa Fe in New Mexico.

There is a Huge kitchen,Attached garage, Water well, Two storage tanks, Three buried propane tanks, Two rainwater tanks, and a Generator

“Nestled in the beautiful and best part of Salado, this home was thoughtfully and artfully designed by antique dealers who liked to entertain and show off their furnishings,” HomeSmart agent Shirley Kopecky told the New York Post. “This house has all the bells and whistles and was outfitted — at great expense — for uncertain weather.”

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Weather forecast on local TV

Heating bills UP in SoCal storms

Residents of Southern California have endured months of droughts, followed by floods, and now face brutal increases in the cost of home heating. That is if they are lucky enough to still have a power supply.

Close to 100,000 customers were without power in California Wednesday, according to PowerOutage.Us, as parts of the state contended with strong winds.

California imports 90 percent of its gas, so it’s reliant on pipelines. and many of those were closed for unplanned maintenance in November and December, limiting supply flowing to California and other Western states, said Aleecia Gutierrez, director of the California Energy Commission’s Energy Assessments Division. A pipeline explosion in 2021 had already reduced capacity to move gas from Texas and neighboring states, where much of California’s supply comes from.

Additionally, the past few months in California have seen an unusually high demand for heating. That came after a historically hot summer strained the state’s electricity grid, which is largely powered by natural gas, said Sung Won Sohn, an economics professor at Loyola Marymount University.

California also has less natural gas storage than it once had, in part because Aliso Canyon in Los Angeles, one of the biggest natural gas storage sites in the Western United States, reduced its capacity after a major leak there in 2015. That means the state has fewer reserves when demands are high.

Taken alone, each of these issues may not have been enough to lead to such a big spike in gas prices, said Severin Borenstein, an energy economist at the University of California, Berkeley. But, “it has been a near-perfect storm of factors to boost the price of natural gas,” he said.

The relationship between demand and price takes time to appear, said Chris Higginbotham, a spokesman for the U.S. Energy Information Administration. “If a given storm comes and drives up the price of natural gas,” he said, “it typically takes time for that effect to show up at a retail level.”

Demand, however, is “one of the primary drivers of natural gas wholesale prices,” Higginbotham said, and if a storm like the current one were to increase demand, it “could affect the price utilities are paying.” Those costs would ultimately be passed on to consumers.

Data from the USEIA show that stored gas in the Pacific region is well below five-year average levels, whereas all other regions in the country are close to or above average. This potential supply shortage could further raise prices, Higginbotham said.

Donna Biroczky, a social media marketer, has struggled to keep her Fontana home warm. “Our bill was probably triple this year from last January,” she said.

She has shut off her gas fireplaces and opted for electric heaters, stocking her house with “more blankets for people to use.”
She said skyrocketing prices for things that once felt affordable were forcing people to make trade-offs. “People are having to …

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America’s latest RV trend: getting wa-a-ay off-grid

Recreational vehicle makers often boast how their RVs and trailers can feel just like home. Besides their cleverly packaged bathrooms and kitchenettes, when you park your rig at a campground you can find something else that will make you feel you never left home: neighbors.

Often lots of neighbors. Sometimes noisy ones. Just like at home.

That’s why a lot of campers these days are enjoying the seclusion of “boondocking,” or camping away from traditional campsites. And away from all those other campers.

“You drive around. You find yourself a spot, you don’t have any services of any sort,” said Amanda Watson who’s been living in a 1998 Safari motorhome with her husband for eight years. “That’s what I consider boondocking.”

RV’ing in general has become increasingly popular over the past few years. And that’s been especially the case recently, with the coronavirus keeping people away from shared lodgings. Now, even once-secluded spots are getting less secluded, especially if it’s near a cell-phone tower. Not having running water or sewer access is one thing, but apparently no one wants to be away from the Internet.

“We have discovered, particularly in the Southwest where the land is really wide open and the cell signal travels far, that we have gotten a good cell signal in some really remote places,” Watson said.

It’s a trend that has spawned numerous small startup companies, like Opus, Polydrops and EarthRoamer, to make trailers and recreational vehicles designed for venturing far from paved — or even unpaved — roads. Traditional RV companies, like Winnebago and Airstream, have also taken notice and are now turning out trailers and camping rigs with bigger, knobbier tires and more ground clearance to clamber over rocks and ruts.

Dry camping

Some homeowners rent out campsites that are often just easily accessible spots on their private land. But if you want to get to places that are more remote and away from drivable asphalt or gravel roads, you’ll want a rig designed for that.

Compact size is also important. You don’t want something that’s difficult to maneuver around boulders or between trees on the way to your secluded campsite.

About three years ago, California architecture student Kyunghyun Lew set out to design a camping trailer light enough to tow behind his wife’s Mazda3 or almost any SUV. He designed the Polydrop trailer, now available in four different styles from about $14,000 to $20,000, all of which resemble a space pod from a 1970’s science fiction movie. With air conditioning and heating, it offers a comfortable place to sleep. A fold out kitchenette is also available and Lew says he is also working on a built-in toilet. For now, campers will have to improvise.

Another company, Opus — founded in the United Kingdom but with its US headquarters in Pittsburg, California — offers rugged folding camping trailers. Advertised as “Tough Luxury,” most …

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Can I Use Waste From Composting Loo to Fertilise Veggies?

Yes, you can use the material from a composting toilet to fertilize your plants and it has an honourable tradition. In eighteenth century Japan, human excrement played a vital role in agriculture. Can similar solutions help manage waste today?  Because every drop of waste was gathered and used, Japanese cities did not have a problem with overflowing latrines, stinky street gutters, and other sanitation issues which plagued urban Europe at the time.

You must ensure the material is fully composted before it can be used as fertilizer. It should be allowed to decompose for sufficient time, usually several months, and should reach high enough temperatures to kill any pathogens. Ensure that the compost is well-aerated and turned regularly to speed up the decomposition process. Once the compost is fully decomposed, it can be added to your garden as a fertilizer.

There are several additives that can be added to compost to increase the speed of decomposition:

  1. Nitrogen-rich materials: Adding materials high in nitrogen, such as grass clippings or food scraps, can help to provide the bacteria in the compost pile with the nutrients they need to grow and reproduce.
  2. Microbes: Adding beneficial microbes such as compost starter cultures can help to kickstart the decomposition process.
  3. Water: Keeping the compost pile moist, but not waterlogged, is important for the bacteria to thrive.
  4. Aeration: Turning the compost pile regularly, or adding materials like straw or wood chips that can help to improve the airflow through the pile, can help to speed up decomposition.
  5. Limestone: Adding a source of calcium like crushed eggshells or limestone powder can help to balance the pH of the compost and make it more hospitable to beneficial microbes.
  6. Bacteria inoculants: Some commercial products contain specific strains of bacteria that can break down specific types of organic matter faster like high carbon materials like straw and sawdust

NB: a balance of green (nitrogen-rich) and brown (carbon-rich) materials in your compost pile is crucial for optimal decomposition and to avoid unpleasant odors.

It is generally not recommended to use human waste directly on fruit trees or other food crops due to the risk of contamination with harmful pathogens, but as long as you are doing this on your own land with your own waste, it is very low risk. Health & Safety guidance suggests human waste can be treated, either through a septic system or a composting toilet, to kill off any harmful bacteria before it is used as a fertilizer. However, it may be illegal to use human waste as a fertilizer in some areas, so you should check local laws before doing so.

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Decarbonising the grid derailed by “thick, white, male plumbers”

Over 95% of plumbers are males in the USA and the UK; more than two-thirds are over 45 years old; two in five want to leave the industry in the next decade, according to a new report.
With high energy prices here to stay there is unprecedented demand for renewable heating and cooling installers
Image problems in plumbing could stop recruitment of people needed to install heat pumps
Replacing gas boilers and switching to heat pumps is a central tenet of the Inflation Reduction Act in the USA, and the UK Government’s ambitions to be carbon neutral by 2050

The installation will largely be done by upskilling current gas and oil boiler installers.
But almost all plumbers are middle-aged white men close to retirement, a report has found, raising concerns that there will not be enough competent installers to reach the UK Government’s goal of 600,000 heat pumps being installed every year by 2028.

In the USA there are thought to be approximately 120,000 plumbers and 50,000 certified heating engineers, but onlu 10% of them are thought to be trained in renewables.

A UK study by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), found that plumbers think recruiting young people is important but that “if the same recruitment practices and promotional activities continue within the sector, the pool of potential employees recruited to grow the sector may be restricted and the lack of diversity may persist”.
Mica May, co-director of Stopcocks Women Plumbers, told The Telegraph that the industry “is not presenting an attractive face” for prospective plumbers.
“If everyone goes to university the country will fall on its face,” she said. “You’ve got people saying ‘only thickos go into trades’ and young people don’t see the skilled aspect of it.
Majority of plumbers eye retirement
The BEIS report found that the plumbing workforce is 95 per cent white and at least 95 per cent male; more than two-thirds are over 45 years of age; and two in five want to leave the industry in the next decade, with the majority eyeing retirement.
“How can this sector become diverse and representative when it’s perceived as a well-paid dead-end?” Ms May added. “How can it attract enough quality workers to meet the need? This needs not only training, but real funding and a huge cultural shift.”
Kevin Wellman, CEO of the Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering says “it’s going to be a massive stretch” to reach net zero goals with the current state of the workforce.
He said there are diversity initiatives in place, but that much more needs to be done to make plumbing an attractive proposition for young people from all backgrounds.
“We need to diversify, as well as recruit more of the currently dominant demographic,” he said. “The main challenge is to reach out to career officers to promote the benefits of the industry …

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