Tuesday, March 22, 2011

4G Networks Raising Havoc / Knut, polar bear, died of brain illness / off the grid / Wasteful OPA / Health fears / stand on SmartMeters / Some Worry / Insiders and BC Hydro / What's the return

W.E.E.P. News

Wireless Electrical and Electromagnetic Pollution News 

23 March 2011

4G Networks Raising Havoc on Sweden's Railway System
By Susanne Willgren & Aron Lamm Epoch Times Staff   Mar 10, 2011  
STOCKHOLM—The new, lightening-fast, 4G mobile network is causing problems for Sweden's railways, with more countries likely to be affected.

Sweden has pumped some $2 billion into its mammoth Botniabanan project, a ultra-modern, high-speed railway system that runs through the northern part of the country, supplying a long-awaited service to the people in that area.

The track, which has taken 11 years to build, was opened by the Swedish King Carl XVI Gustaf last year, and is the biggest railroad project in Sweden since 1937.

Although the trains are running at optimum speeds and efficiency, as expected, they seem to have run into an unexpected snag of sorts: the 4G mobile network. That is, vital train signals are getting seriously fouled up.

Here's how these train signals work, or in this case, how they don't work:

The track itself is equipped with a brand new signal system called the European Rail Traffic Management System, or ERTMS, which eliminates the need for traditional, visual light signals by sending signal information directly to the train operator.

But since this part of the train's system is highly sensitive to the mobile 4G network, the emergency brakes, on occasion, suddenly kick in.

And that is exactly what happened during 62 out of 140 train departures in October, according to Swedish magazine, Ny Teknik.

Since Sweden is a world leader in mobile Internet traffic, towers upon towers of new, 4G networks are quickly crisscrossing the country.

However, these powerful 4G signals are disrupting the ERTMS, which can lead to problems when the train passes near base stations.

The Swedish railway industry is now calling for legislation that would regulate the placement of 4G towers and base stations in the country, according to Swedish Radio (SR).

"The frequency range of the railroad is regulated by law, and we can't change frequencies, so we have to be sure that we won't be disrupted," said Sven-Håkan Nilsson, director of ERTMS for the Swedish railroad authorities, according to SR.

The long-range plan for the Swedes is to use the ERTMS in such a way that allows trains to cross several European countries, using different railway standards, without any hiccups.
Avrom / Susan

Knut, Berlin zoo's celebrity polar bear, died of brain illness

Postmortem on four-year-old polar bear who collapsed and died showed 'significant changes to the brain'


Lammas: The eco-village that lives off the grid - video

Heydon Prowse visits the pioneering off-grid Lammas project in Pembrokeshire to learn how they blend green building technology and perma-culture economics to fuel a thriving community





Ontario PCs Call for Wasteful OPA Bureaucracy to be Scrapped
by Richard Wakefield 

QUEEN'S PARK-Today, Ontario PC Deputy Leader Christine Elliott called on Dalton McGuinty to scrap the wasteful and bloated bureaucracy known as the Ontario Power Authority (OPA), whose ballooning budget and expenses are contributing to Ontario families' skyrocketing hydro bills.

Originally conceived as a "virtual" and "transitional" agency, the OPA has expanded from 15 employees when it was created in 2005 to over 300 employees today. OPA expenses have exploded by a staggering 465%. The number of OPA salaries over $100,000 has grown from six in 2005 to 75 including former Dalton McGuinty spokesperson Ben Chin who made $185,000 at OPA last year.

Longtime Liberals Patrick Monaghan, Lyn McLeod, and Adele Hurley are also on the OPA Board.While Dalton McGuinty rewards his friends at the OPA, Ontario families are seeing their hydro bills skyrocket. Hydro rates have already gone up 75 percent under Dalton McGuinty, over 100 percent if you have smart meter tax machine. What's worse, family hydro bills are expected to increase another 46 percent over the next few years, according to Dalton McGuinty's own low-ball estimate.


"Six years ago, Dalton McGuinty created the Ontario Power Authority saying it was a transitional agency and promising it would produce a long-term energy plan. But all he has to show after six years are skyrocketing hydro bills and a record of backtracking from the offshore wind experiment and screwed up microFIT experiment the OPA produced for him."-- Christine Elliott, Deputy Ontario PC Leader

"When the Ontario Power Authority is not wasting money, it is busy finding ways to make life miserable for Ontario families. It's time to scrap the OPA bureaucracy and once and for all put families first."-- John Yakabuski, Ontario PC Energy Critic

QUICK FACTS:· The "virtual" and "transitional" OPA bureaucracy has expanded from 15 employees when it was created in 2005 to over 300 employees today.·

OPA expenses have grown over that time from $14.1 million to $79.7 million - an increase of 465%.·

The number of six figure salaries at the OPA has skyrocketed from six to 75 - a staggering increase of 1,250%.

THEYDON BOIS: Health fears over possible phone mast

PLANS for a fourth mobile phone mast to be installed in one village have led to health fears among residents.

Vodafone and O2 have asked the group that runs the Theydon Bois Village Hall for permission to install a mobile phone mast there.

But residents are worried that radiation emitted by mobile phone masts could cause ill health and that installing yet another pole in their village would not be worth the risk.

Jacqueline Dodman from the Theydon Bois Action Group, said: "We have three masts in the village already.

"Some people may have problems getting signal in the forest, but it's not especially problematic.

"Do we want to risk our health for the sake of a good mobile phone signal?"

When the group asked villagers as part of a survey whether a stand should be taken against more mobile phone masts in the village and more than 85 per cent agreed, while less than five per cent thought they should be encouraged.

The group is also concerned about 'electrosmog', which researchers claim is radiation caused by mobile phone masts and other electrical devices and can lead to health problems such as muscle pain and sleep loss.

A national helpline called ES-UK has been set up by people who believe they have become sensitive to the radiation by being exposed to it.

One of the helpline volunteers, Sandra Lawerence, 66, who lives in Wales, says she suffers from debilitating pain because of the radiation.

"Since 2006 I haven't been able to travel or go shopping or go to work," she added.

However, the World Health Organisation has said there is not enough evidence to prove the masts have an affect on health.

The Theydon Bois Village Association, which owns the village hall, will discuss the possible installation of the mast with Vodafone and O2 at its annual meeting on April 13 at the village hall in Coppice Row.

The chairman of the association, Martin Oliver, said: "The companies pay for the use of the land. We're a charity and we have a hall to run for the benefit of the community.

"But we might well say that we're not interested in this and that would be the end of it."

By ANDREA WAGNER -DN Staff Writer Those who have concerns about PG&E SmartMeters have allies among the Tehama County Board of Supervisors. In a vote Tuesday, supervisors opted to sign a letter of support for an assembly bill that would halt ...
By Mike Ramsey

The high-tech method being rolled out by the western suburb does not pass muster with small but vocal minority of residents who say there could be adverse health effects.

By Will McMartin
BC Hydro's proposed smart meter program may utilize new technology, but the insiders who stand to gain from this $1-billion potential boondoggle have political roots in B.C. going back to the early 1980s. The scene: B.C.'s Legislative ...

What's the return on $1 billion smart meter investment?

Fri Mar 4 2011
John Spears and Robert Benzie Staff Reporters

Here's the easy part: Installing electricity "smart meters" in just about every home and business in Ontario has cost $1 billion so far.

Here's the tough part: Providing a dollars and cents analysis on the return for the massive investment.

Figures from the Ontario Energy Board show it had cost $994,426,187 to install smart meters as of last Sept 30.

The meters provide hourly information to utilities about how much power each customer is using.

They also allow utilities to bill customers on "time of use" rates — high prices during period of peak demand, and lower prices during off-peak periods such as nights and weekends.

By now 94 per cent of Ontario customers have a smart meter.

The natural question is: What's the return on the investment? After all, Ontario residents are paying for the meters through their hydro bills.

The question appears to be easier to ask than to answer.

"Families on average are saving on time of use," Duguid told reporters yesterday, citing preliminary Toronto Hydro data and acknowledging more study is needed. "They are modest. The program is new."

(In fact the Toronto Hydro says its figures show 80 per cent of customers have had increases averaging $1.50 a month, while 20 per cent had decreases averaging $3.70 a month).

B.C. Hydro has estimated that it will cost $1.1 billion to install smart meters in B.C., but they'll deliver $1.6 billion in benefits over the next 20 years.

But no one could point to a similar study for Ontario.

Many arguments have been advanced for bringing in smart meters.

For example: Time of use rates are supposed to encourage consumers to use less power a peak rates, reducing the need for expensive generating stations that only operate for brief periods.

They give consumers more control over their bills, by letting them turn on the dishwasher at bedtime, say, instead of in the morning.

They also make the power grid "smarter." For example, smart meters tell the utility immediately when power goes out, so service crews can be dispatched more quickly.

And they allow homes and businesses to install their own power system, like solar panels, and feed power back into the grid.

It was time to replace many meters anyway, Duguid argues:

"If you're going to replace them, you may as well replace them with the most up-to-date type of technology."

"What smart meters do is give people the opportunity usage in a better way," he said. "It educates Ontario consumer to the fact that when they use power at certain times it's more expensive to provide than other times."

At Queen's Park on Friday, the Progressive Conservatives pounced on the $1 billion smart-meters' price tag.

"It's bad enough that Dalton McGuinty doesn't respect Ontario families by forcing them to do their dishes at midnight, get their kids showered and off to school by 7 a.m., and do their laundry on the weekend," fumed MPP Jim Wilson (Simcoe-Grey).

"We now learn that he has also stuck them with a $1 billion bill — and counting — for this expensive energy experiment," he told reporters. ?

"Not every family and not every senior can fit into Dalton McGuinty's definition of how a household should be run."

The Conservatives have pledged that they'll give consumers a choice between time of use rates or flat rates.

Duguid said that wouldn't deliver savings, because it would drive up the costs of utilities by forcing them to run two billing systems.

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