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UK's climate change dept abolished, but 'smart meters and all our policies strong as ever'

Trollface

"all households and businesses should be offered a smart meter by 2020"

Offered? So we can say "no, thanks"?

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Yes you can say no.

Yes you can decline your supplier's gracious offer to replace you old meter with a "smart" meter that will work with their systems. It may not however work with any other supplier, and may not be upgrade-able to become compliant with other suppliers.

Supposedly there is a new standard that is coming out that will allow meters to be used across all suppliers.

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Trollface

Re: Yes you can say no.

Supposedly there is a new standard that is coming out that will allow meters to be used across all suppliers.

And you can bet that will lead to them being even less secure and protected than the current crop are, if that is actually possible.

Remind me why we as consumers might actually want these things again? I'm sure the convenience isn't ours, especially as most normal people won't have "Gaz and Leccy running out of control" to use their moronic advertising wording...

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Coat

Re: Yes you can say no.

"especially as most normal people won't have "Gaz and Leccy running out of control" to use their moronic advertising wording..."

Well, Gaz and Leccy sound like they might be the neighbour's chavvy kids - but I'm not sure how a smart meter would stop them running out of control.

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British Gas rang me to make an appointment "to fit your new smart meter". What new smart meter? I didn't ask for one. No thanks, says I. Oh, but everyone has to have one by 2020. No thanks, says I again.

FFS they are really trying hard to con people into thinking they must have one right now.

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Anonymous Coward

At work I was given a letter from our supplier, asking me to replace our meter(s). No out of working hours option, and a 4 hour (!) window during the day for when their engineer might turn up.

Either they don't understand the cost to businesses of downtime, or they aren't trying very hard to get the installations done.

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Anonymous Coward

Smart meters have nothing to do with saving energy

They have everything to do with getting rid of meter reading staff & getting the wage bill down

And even more to do with someone in an overseas call centre checking a box on a web form & cutting off your supply instantly if you have difficulty with the bill

It effectively turns an ordinary meter into a prepayment meter

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Boon for burgulars

and overseas call centre staff seeing that your power use suddenly dropped on Saturday when you went away on holiday ...

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All for doing away with meter reader

The idea of a chap or a chapess trotting from home to home reading a meter seems about as necessary as having the egg-man or the ice-man calling round.

We are never in when they call and really don't like the reader traipsing through our flat. As they can seldom get access, we are forced either to read it ourselves (and I can't for the life of me get it right) or endure estimated after estimated bill.

For this reason alone, I'd be happy for a smart meter. I just don't need it to be very smart. I don't want to read what I consume while I am consuming it, I just want it to phone home with accurate readings.

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Re: All for doing away with meter reader

If 'phone home with an accurate reading' was all it was designed to do then there would be a lot less resistance. However the subtext is 'demand management' i.e. cut you off, or perhaps a bit more cleverly, temporarily switch of some appliances. That is, or should be, a no-no. I've no problem with improving energy efficiency as long as it's done in an economically realistic way (no stupid restrictions on kettle consumption). But however good or bad the energy efficiency of our appliances is, in the rich, civilised country that we apparently are, then the energy infrastructure should be robust enough to cope with the demands placed upon it both now and in the future.

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"They have everything to do with getting rid of meter reading staff & getting the wage bill down"

I haven't seen a meter reader in more than 2 years. They show up occasionally to verify that what I'm giving them is accurate and then disappear again - fewer than 5 visits in 15 years.

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Re: All for doing away with meter reader

"For this reason alone, I'd be happy for a smart meter."

Why? All that's needed is that the meter be readable from outside the house and that's been the norm for new builds and renovations in Australia/NZ for 50 years.

remote display != smart meter

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Re: All for doing away with meter reader

"The idea of a chap or a chapess trotting from home to home reading a meter seems about as necessary as having the egg-man or the ice-man calling round."

We used to have both and egg-man and an ice-cream man. We miss them.

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Re: All for doing away with meter reader

The Americans have been remote reading meters for decades... no need to have all the rest of the functionality for that trivial action

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They can in theory disconnect your services without a smart meter. However they never actually do cut you off because:

a) If there is somebody dependant on medical equipment at the address and they disconnect the electricity, they could be liable should they die as a result of being deprived of that equipment.

b) If they reconnect the gas supply while an appliance is on and there's nobody in the house, they could trigger a gas explosion.

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"They can in theory disconnect your services without a smart meter."

As long as you let them in to do it, or they get a court order and use the local police to make entry, and then someone "skilled" disconnects you. With a new meter, someone in a call centre (or a software auto script) clicks a box on a Web form.

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Re: All for doing away with meter reader

"Why? All that's needed is that the meter be readable from outside the house and that's been the norm for new builds and renovations in Australia/NZ for 50 years."

Your info is out of date (NZ) - when I was renovating and completely rebuilding the switchboard about 4 years ago the smart meter was allowed to stay where it was - inside and not accessible from outside the house.

The only problem was when the lines company wanted to add a second smart meter for their own purposes - what with the retailer's meter, the ripple control relay and the vast collection of RCDs (5) and cct breakers (17), there just wasn't room for anything more.

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E2

.... and

.. they have everything to do with " demand management"

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Facepalm

we are forced either to read it ourselves (and I can't for the life of me get it right)

And yet you post on ElReg?

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Consumer benefits are not falling!

"...while the consumer benefits are falling."

Have they not seen the Gritish Bas 'free electricity' adverts on the TV?

Smart meters allow such 'demand control' measures which will only increase as more homes get smart meters.

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Unhappy

Re: Consumer benefits are not falling!

OK..... I'll bite,

Please, rather than making bald statements such as Smart meters allow such 'demand control' measures which will only increase as more homes get smart meters. and offering no reason behind the assertion.... please, do develop the argument.

The free energy on Saturday/Sunday - which by the way is only available to dual fuel customers (always a sodding catch isn't there!) is just a glorified Economy 7 billing scheme. There's a Cheap Period, there's a not so cheap period. The concept is not new - though I will grant that the granularity is more defined than before - but does that merit £10billion in costs.

I'm willing to listen, even to be persuaded - but you will have to work for it.

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Facepalm

Re: Consumer benefits are not falling!

I bet you can make greater savings than 'free energy' just by switching to a cheaper supplier. I am saddened to see the 'Free Energy' bullshit has worked on the gullible. BG is the most expensive energy you can buy. No wonder they can afford to give it away.

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Re: Consumer benefits are not falling!

The wholesale price of electricity varies throughout the day and each day, depending on spot demand. Large consumers can choose to shut down power-hungry plant when electricity is at its most expensive.

They can go further than that and give control to the National Grid in return for discounts. A cold-store, for example may switch their chiller off during half time of an international football match.

The effect of a 'free' period will be that some consumers do their washing, baking, car charging, etc during their free period, reducing overall demand during the week.

Going forward, smart meters could be combined with smart appliances, stopping the washing, or allowing the fridge to warm up a little more during peaks of demand and rewarding us for doing so. One consumer drawing 500W less cannot make much difference, but 10,000 drawing 500W less each is 5 Megawatts, more than Didcot B power station generates.

Without smart meters, home owners cannot benefit from such measures, meaning we have to build more power stations.

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Re: 5 MW?

"Didcot B can produce 1,360MW, enough power to meet the needs of 1 million households."

http://www.rwe.com/web/cms/en/320906/rwe-npower/about-us/our-businesses/power-generation/didcot/didcot-b/

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Re: Consumer benefits are not falling!

@Ellis...

I may have missed this.... but I thought the smart meter push was to domestic customers in the main.

So paragraphs one and two - essentially arguments about large customers don't apply to this discussion. We are focusing on why a domestic customer should feel motivated to using a smart meter.

Free Period - Back to Economy 7 concept. I've granted that finer granularity would be attainable but I still doubt that it merits the £10billion.

Allowing Fridges to Warm up - That scares me witless if you think about people storing medicines at home. OK Insulin can be stored at temperatures under 25C for 4 weeks (had to Google it) but there may be other use cases to be addressed. What other complications present themselves with appliances being manipulated unexpectedly. Food that started to cook... but was delayed - or was never cooked hot enough for long enough to make it safe to eat?

And the point that all of this leads to.. which remains the unanswered - is that any sort of smart control is only one step away from a remote kill switch - used at the suppliers discretion for non-payment or other reasons.

Without smart meters, home owners cannot benefit from such measures, meaning we have to build more power stations.

Of course they can - A dumb meter with two charge bands can deliver cheap evening or weekend tariffs. Customers can choose to operate the appliance in the window of opportunity. Cash is a fairly good motivator of human behaviour.

I'm still willing to listen - but it does need to be a really strong argument. And that rather sadly is something that HM Gov has also yet to present.

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Re: 5 MW?

"Didcot B can produce 1,360MW"

Or put another way, the same as the _peak_ output of 680 2MW windmills (the biggest land-based ones you can get), but more realistically the average output of 1800-2400 of them.

Multiply _that_ out by the number of large power stations around the country and figure where the hell all these windmills are going to be placed.

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Facepalm

Re: Consumer benefits are not falling!

Sigh - as I've said elsewhere. It's not about cutting off the power (none of the meters have the 100A contactor required).

It's about dynamic, live pricing. It's too hard to track your usage minute-by-minute at the centre, so your smart meter does it. The "smart" bit is the ability to have the tariff updated OTA as the wholesale price changes.

Rather than Economy 7, where the "cheap" period is predictable, the price will vary without warning or pattern according to the wind speed, amount of sunlight, which power station has conked out, etc.

You will end up watching the display to find out when you can afford to run the tumble drier.

Or banging off the oven on Sunday 'cos you can no longer afford to roast the Sunday joint.

They won't turn your stuff off. You will, 'cos the bill is getting scary.

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Re: Consumer benefits are not falling!

"Or banging off the oven on Sunday 'cos you can no longer afford to roast the Sunday joint."

Or when it's half cooked because the price has just gone up? Invite Sam & Ella round for lunch.

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Re: 5 MW?

And Didcot A ... according to the Europeans a terrible polluting green house gas producing object ... is now producing cheap electricity in China (along with the same pollution) making sure they can compete better with us than we can with our expensive Russian Gas fired replacement (which doesn't really make a lot less pollution if all be told).

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Re: Consumer benefits are not falling!

One consumer drawing 500W less cannot make much difference, but 10,000 drawing 500W less each is 5 Megawatts, more than Didcot B power station generates.

You can generate as much as 5MW with a single wind turbine (a large one, admittedly) so that would make Didcot B very modest indeed, were that really its maximum output.

Methinks it might have been more amusing had you written "more than Didcot A power station generates", as Didcot A has been closed since 2013 (but could produce 2000MW while it was in service).

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Re: Consumer benefits are not falling!

@Missing Semicolon ;

From the British Gas website - as they are the ones curently touting free weekend electricity

Q. Will I be on a different tariff when I get my smart meters?

A: No, you can stay on the same tariff. Though we’ll be introducing some smart meter specific tariffs in the future, so look out for those.

From smartenergygb.org

In the future, we can look forward to being rewarded with cheaper tariffs at off-peak times. This means we will pay less to mow the lawn or run the washing machine when electricity is not in high demand. It will also mean less pressure on the grid at busier times when we’re all rustling up our dinner, or putting on the kettle whilst the adverts are on TV.

Scottish Power

What smart meters mean for you

See how much gas and electricity you're using

See how much activities are costing you in pounds and pence

You could change your behaviours to save and reduce your carbon footprint

No more manually submitting meter reads

No more need for someone to come and read your meter

No more estimated bills, so they'll be accurate ones every time*

Not one of them - and to be fair I got fed up looking for any others - mentions wholesale pricing. In fact all of the focus seems to be "No more estimated bills" and "Shape your own behaviour" which is a paraphrase for "Let your power bill scare you into making changes to your lifestyle." In the mean time it suggests that much like today, tariffs will be struck at the start of a supply agreement, probably with a tiered pricing structure but would anyone be surprised if they will follow declared time slots.

In the mean time - here's a question. If we all have smart meters, and they power companies can flip the pricing based on demand, are we going to pay more when all those kettles go on at half time in an FA Cup final, or during the Corrie Ad break. Is my cuppa suddenly going to cost more than my cuppa earlier in the morning?

Still listening - waiting for the clinching argument if favour of the change.

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Megaphone

Re: Consumer benefits are not falling!

@ Missing Semicolon

"the ability to have the tariff updated OTA as the wholesale price changes". You mean the same way petrol prices fall at the pumps weeks or months after the price of oil falls. Believe me the price will fluctuate one way only; Up, making them massive profits.

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Re: Consumer benefits are not falling!

Allowing Fridges to Warm up - That scares me witless if you think about people storing medicines at home.

It's not just that; a fridge that is at or close to its set temperature will only use a modest amount of power per hour to stay cold. If it is allowed to warm up it will take a lot more power in the following hour or two while it gets back down to its set temperature. Now think of a large number of fridges all taking more power than they would have done if they had simply been left alone.

Freezers, needless to say, take even more. The exercise would be completely pointless.

And your partially cooked food point is really terrifying...

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Re: Consumer benefits are not falling!

@Missing Semicolon

"It's not about cutting off the power (none of the meters have the 100A contactor required)."

The meter I've had installed in Madrid (Sagemcom CX2000-9) has a latching relay that turns off the supply either based on the actions of the supplier, or if my consumption goes over 8A on any of the 3 phases. The 8A limit is something that I can choose to change, by paying a fee and then higher standing charge (demand management!). It does "remember" that you were cut off after a power cut too.

I don't know what they are fitting in the UK, but if one meter has it, I don't know why another couldn't.

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Boffin

To Cynical Observer...

May I explain:

The biggest advantage to having Smart Meters is to allow for smart electricity: this is electricity that just works better than normal electricity does. So for example, 1 volt of smart electricity is better than 2 volts of normal electricity by 75% (give or take). The same goes for amps too except that because amps are like speed and volts are like acceleration, you'll always get more smart amps in a battery than smart volts in a wire. Smartness means the electricity flows through wires faster, often avoiding corners and dead ends, so music is louder, bossier and better quality and TVs can get more channels. Beyoncé's latest album was recorded using smart electricity and that allowed her to use 0, 1 and 2 in the binary stuff that goes on CDs. You might see blue dust under your CD player: that's older non smart players causing the 2s to literally fly off the disk.

Before decimalisation,the European Union tried to introduce Smart Feet but they fell a bit flat. Smart meters are the post decimalisation version so they are literally 1,000 times smarter. There are other smart things too: smart cars (cars that are smarter), smarties (clever and colourful buttons to literally tie clothes together) and smart watches, that actually look worse and don't tell the time as well as traditional watches (aka 'watches') do.

Elon Musk (whose porn name is Nole Skum) has invented a very smart car named the Tesla, and there's talk in the US that the Tesla will become the official unit of Smartness, the word not being used for anything else currently. One Tesla will be as smart as Steven Hawking on a good day, or 3.2 times smarter than Wales.

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Facepalm

Finally......

@ephemeral...

I finally see. It's the electricity generated from powdered unicorn horn....

Why didn't anyone say before now. I can finally use it to power the Retro Encabulator

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Re: Consumer benefits are not falling!

Going forward, smart meters could be combined with smart appliances, stopping the washing, or allowing the fridge to warm up a little more during peaks of demand and rewarding us for doing so.

Well f**k that. I wan't my appliances to do what I tell them to do. I pay enough for the juice as it is so I'll have uninterrupted supply thank you very much.

According to DUKES 2015 maximum demand in 2014/2015 was 70% of UK capacity. Apparently UK still imported 5.7% of the supply (in 2014).

Maybe if they stopped shutting plants down and run them at peak efficiency.

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Re: Consumer benefits are not falling!

"It's about dynamic, live pricing. It's too hard to track your usage minute-by-minute at the centre, so your smart meter does it. The "smart" bit is the ability to have the tariff updated OTA as the wholesale price changes."

Consumer and contract law might have to be changed if the consumer has no idea how much the bill is going to be until it comes in. You can't treat to sell without disclosing the price, and if the price is going to be variable, possibly minute by minute, then the consumer is totally fscked. Even more legally dubious would be to vary the price tariffs on a pre-pay meter. If you've already paid for your energy, the supplier can't just change the price of the already paid for goods.

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Re: To Cynical Observer...

"Tesla will become the official unit of Smartness, the word not being used for anything else currently."

I was with you all the way and then you fell at the last post.

Upvoted anyway :-)

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Re: Consumer benefits are not falling!

"The "smart" bit is the ability to have the tariff updated OTA as the wholesale price changes."

I'll bet you £50 that "as the wholesale price changes" part doesn't happen, not OTA on change. That means tracking spot pricing and passing that variation on to consumers, which won't happen.

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Re: Finally......

Turbo. Turbo encabulator.

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Re: To Cynical Observer...

Whoever you are sir - have an upvote.

My colleagues and I love this.

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Re: Consumer benefits are not falling!

I might try to take advantage of it. If only there was a way to store electrical energy...

But they will probably stop the free energy thing as soon as battery sales go up. Tesla makes some nice batteries, I believe..

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Consumer benefits are not falling!

It seems unlikely that a large power plant can barely supply half the small town I live in. We would need a LOT of such power plants if that was the case.

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Re: Consumer benefits are not falling!

> Consumer and contract law might have to be changed if the consumer has no idea how much the bill is going to be until it comes in.

Ah, but they will - that's what the in-home display is for.

> You can't treat to sell without disclosing the price, and if the price is going to be variable, possibly minute by minute, then the consumer is totally fscked.

I think you'll find that variable pricing is OK - provided it is very clear up-front AND the consumer has a means of knowing what they will be paying before they use it. AIUI, it's not so much "your lecky now costs 50p/unit" as "starting at <next half hour point> the lecky will be 50p/unit".

> Even more legally dubious would be to vary the price tariffs on a pre-pay meter. If you've already paid for your energy, the supplier can't just change the price of the already paid for goods.

But you haven't pre-paid for the goods. You have paid for credit which is then used to pay for the goods as you use them.

All that said, the current design of the smart metering thing is a complete and utter fail-magnet.

Contrary to what someone has said before, part of the spec is for remote disconnection (and remote re-connection) - though in theory that is a last resort when "pricing demand management" has failed. Eg, if making the lecky 10 times more expensive hasn't reduced demand enough when the wind isn't blowing (and hence all the windmills in the country are doing SFA useful), then they can impose rolling blackouts - like in the 70s but more fine grained.

There is zero need to report back the detailed usage by 1/2 hour periods. All that needs reporting back is a tally of usage at each charging rate. FFS we've been able to handle multi-rate metering for at least 4 decades now - don't the f***tards in charge not understand that ?

And I take all the "guarantees" about security and privacy as being worthless. When was the last time we had a big project like this that didn't leak like a sieve ?

.

The last point is that will cause real problems - some of them fatal. All the bullsh*t seems to be about shifting usage to when the windmills are actually working - so running the washing machine and tumble drier at night. What an insanely stupid idea.

Firstly, when manufacturers are saying to never run tumble driers when you are asleep in case it catches fire and burns your house down - how on earth can it be a good idea to encourage just that.

And given the number of people who don't live in nice detached properties, just how would you like it if you are nicely asleep* when the washing machine in the flat above you goes onto spin cycle ?

* Actually you won't be asleep, the cycles leading up to the spin cycle will have woken you up.

If I ever found myself in that position, I'd be complaining about the statutory nuisance, and I;d be doing the best I could to get the weasels responsible to be dragged in for conspiracy by encouraging the anti-social behaviour.

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Re: Finally......

"It's the electricity generated from powdered unicorn horn...."

No, it's made from the methane in unicorn farts.

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Re: Consumer benefits are not falling!

"Maybe if they stopped shutting plants down and run them at peak efficiency."

That works fine until one breaks.

Running at 70% of peak capacity is a good thing. It means that you can afford for a station or 2 to be down for maintenance.

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Re: Consumer benefits are not falling!

"But they will probably stop the free energy thing as soon as battery sales go up. "

Things like powerwalls are dubiously economic even if the input power is free. On the other hand if the UK moves to rolling power cuts (as seems increasingly likely) then they'll sell like hotcakes.

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3% energy saving

What's that in terms of fossil fuel using power stations?

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Re: 3% energy saving

At a rough guess, a bag and a half of nutty slack.

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