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    Thursday, April 23, 2009

    CNN - Florida pharmacy says it wrongly prepped horse meds before match

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    Florida pharmacy says it wrongly prepped horse meds before match

    A veterinary pharmacy in Florida acknowledged Thursday that it incorrectly prepared medication used to treat 21 horses who all died around the time of an international polo match last weekend.

    The deaths of the ponies, witnessed in full view by spectators Sunday in a dramatic scene where horses collapsed one after another, have shaken the prestigious polo tournament at the marquee International Polo Club Palm Beach in Wellington, Florida.

    An internal investigation by Franck's Pharmacy in Ocala, Florida, "concluded that the strength of an ingredient in the medication was incorrect. We will cooperate fully with the authorities as they continue their investigations," the company said in a statement issued Thursday afternoon.

    "We extend our most sincere condolences to the horses' owners, the Lechuza Polo team and the members of the United States Polo Association. We share their grief and sadness," the pharmacy's chief operations officer, Jennifer Beckett, said in the statement.

    A memorial ceremony for the horses is scheduled for Thursday at the U.S. Open Polo Championship, where officials hope to resume play after matches were postponed by rain Wednesday. The memorial service will include a brief speech and a wreath-laying on the field.

    The pharmacy said it prepared medication for the horses on orders from a veterinarian.

    Liz Compton, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, told CNN that the agency is awaiting toxicology results from the animals and could not comment on the pharmacy's disclosure.

    "Obviously, we are going to follow any and every potential lead to get to the bottom of this," she said.

    The horses were trained by Lechuza Polo, a Venezuela-based team. Its captain, Juan Martin Nero, told an Argentine newspaper earlier this week that he had "no doubts" vitamins administered to the animals were at fault.

    "There were five horses that did not get the vitamin, and those were the only ones that survived," Nero said.

    The horses collapsed one after another in front of spectators at the International Polo Club Palm Beach in Wellington, Florida, while being prepared for a tournament Sunday. Most were dead within an hour. Post-mortem examinations done by a University of Florida laboratory found significant hemorrhaging in several horses, but the findings did not single out a specific cause.

    Reuters - Echelon, T-Mobile USA form smart meter alliance

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    Echelon, T-Mobile USA form smart meter alliance

    Thursday, Apr 23, 2009 12:11PM UTC

    By Matt Daily and Ritsuko Ando

    NEW YORK (Reuters) - Smart power grid company Echelon Corp <ELON.O> and T-Mobile USA <DTEG.N> said on Thursday they had formed an alliance to use T-Mobile's wireless network to link "smart meters" to utilities.

    T-Mobile will provide embedded SIMs inside a cellular radio module in Echelon's smart meters, which collect power usage and other data for the company's network.

    Several U.S. utilities have begun testing smart meters in pilot projects that are designed to measure power demand at the consumer level and help the electricity providers generate and distribute power more efficiently.

    Smart meters are a key part in the rollout of "smart grid" technology that power companies hope will enable the United States to use electricity far more efficiently.

    Experts say upgrading the nation's power grid is essential to help accommodate the growth of green power sources such as wind and solar, as well as enabling the system to eventually supply a fleet of electric cars.

    Echelon, which has shipped more than 100,000 of its smart meters to U.S. utility owner Duke Energy <DUK.N> and more than 1.6 million worldwide, said the partnership with T-Mobile would provide a cost-effective communications tool for the meters.

    Its meters cost about $100 apiece excluding installation.

    Eventually, companies like Echelon hope to link smart meters to "smart appliances" which consumers can program to operate during hours when electricity demand is low.

    Currently, utilities pay more for power generated during "peak" daytime hours. They hope to shift some of that usage to early morning or evening hours when demand is lower, allowing them to buy cheaper power and pass the savings on to consumers.

    That technology is already in use for some businesses and factories that have agreed to reduce their electricity usage during periods when supplies are stretched. Those companies receive power at lower prices in exchange for agreeing to reduce their demand during those periods.

    T-Mobile USA said the embedded SIM, slightly larger than the head of a pin, will be built of silicon rather than plastic, making it very durable, since too much heat, vibration, or humidity can damage traditional SIM cards.

    Durability problems have been a key obstacle for the adoption of remote, smart grid devices, and T-Mobile expects the potential market to be huge.

    "There are 300 million electric meters. You've got gas and water on top of that. It's a very, very large opportunity ... billions of dollars," John Horn, national director of T-Mobile USA's M2M division, told Reuters.

    The partnership's wireless technology will be deployed on low-voltage transformers, which typically provide electricity connections to between four and 10 homes or businesses.

    Data provided from the transformers to a central collection point at the utility will allow the power provider to easily pinpoint problems in the network and reduce cost and duration of power outages, the companies said.

    (Editing by Matthew Lewis)

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