Miami’s mayor looks to woo Chinese bitcoin miners with low energy prices and clean nuclear power
Mining is the energy-intensive process which both creates new coins and updates the digital ledger of all transactions of existing tokens. More than half of all miners are currently based in China, but a mass exodus is already underway. Where they’re going, however, isn’t yet clear.
While Suarez told CNBC he hasn’t personally received any calls from Chinese miners, the mayor is looking to patriate this mining diaspora by promoting the city’s essentially unlimited supply of cheap nuclear energy.
“We want to make sure that our city has an opportunity to compete,” he said. “We’re talking to a lot of companies and just telling them, ‘Hey, we want you to be here,’” he said.
Rolling out the red carpet
Bitcoin miners are location agnostic; all they need is a rig and a good internet connection. What varies place to place, however, is the cost of energy. And ultimately, what miners care about most is finding the cheapest source of power out there to drive up their profit margins.
That’s why Mayor Suarez, one of the most crypto-friendly politicians in the United States, is making big promises on the cost of doing business in Miami. Suarez has been a crypto believer for years, but he took the plunge into investing in bitcoin and ethereum once he saw the federal government pass a $1.9 trillion American rescue plan, because he “realized that what was inevitable – and already happening – is inflation.”
He emphasized the city’s reliance on nuclear power as a source of clean, inexpensive energy.
“The fact that we have nuclear power means that it’s very inexpensive power,” Suarez told CNBC in an interview from a second-floor conference room in the Miami City Hall building.
Less than an hour from City Hall is the Turkey Point Nuclear Plant, which helps to power Miami, according to data from the Energy Information Administration. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported an average electricity per kilowatt hour cost of 10.7 cents in Miami, versus the national average of 13.3 cents.
Across the state of Florida, nuclear energy is the second-biggest power generator, after natural gas. Suarez is already in talks with Florida Power & Light Company to figure out how to further drive down the price of energy.
“We understand how important this is…miners want to get to a certain kilowatt price per hour. And so we’re working with them on that,” Suarez told CNBC.
The mayor is also considering a mix of other incentives, like enterprise zones specifically for crypto mining. Enterprise zones are areas in which tax concessions, infrastructure incentives, and scaled-back regulations are offered to companies, with the hope that these breaks will encourage investment and create jobs.
Miami is not alone in its ambitions to capture the attention of bitcoin miners.
“There is demand in North America…so the question will be one of capacity,” said Alyse Killeen, founder and managing partner of bitcoin-focused venture firm Stillmark.
Where physical infrastructure and capacity is concerned, the mayor is optimistic the city can meet the needs of miners.
“We were one of the first cities in the world to have a data center, and a mining hub is very similar to a data center,” he said.
But even Suarez admits that a lot needs to happen first.
“Building a mining facility is similar to building a data center. It’s not something that happens overnight,” Suarez told CNBC.
Miami is also not competing in a vacuum here in the U.S. States like Texas and Wyoming are also fast becoming hot mining destinations, thanks to their cheap energy mix and crypto-friendly policies.
The pollution debate
Mayor Suarez isn’t alone in championing the benefits of using nuclear power.
The federal government calls nuclear energy “a zero-emission clean energy source,” and tech billionaire and climate change evangelist Bill Gates previously told CNBC that nuclear power will “absolutely” become politically acceptable again. Gates said that new innovations are making it safer and more affordable.
“Nuclear has actually been safer than any other source of [power] generation,” Bill Gates told Andrew Ross Sorkin on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” “You know, coal plants, coal particulate, natural gas pipelines blowing up. The deaths per unit of power on these other approaches are far higher,” Gates said.
But there are a few drawbacks to harnessing nuclear energy. While nuclear power reactors do not produce air pollution or carbon dioxide while operating, emissions are generated when constructing nuclear power plants and in the decommissioning of reactors.
And more often than not, the world’s cheapest energy sources are renewable. All factors considered, solar and wind energy sources are the lowest cost and most scalable, making them a natural fit for mining, according to Killeen.
“Miners’ capitalist motivations push them toward green energy,” she said.
Whether Chinese miners actually make the move to Florida remains to be seen, but there are signs of progress in Miami’s aspirations to become a mining hotspot. Mayor Suarez says he is currently fielding calls from different mining companies outside China that are considering a move to the sunshine state.
The establishment vs. bitcoin
Miami isn’t just after bitcoin miners. The city wants to become a crypto destination for all sorts of professionals interested in the space.
To draw them, the mayor has been trying to make bitcoin mainstream by advocating for policies that would enable city employees to be paid and residents to pay their taxes in the cryptocurrency. The city itself is considering holding it as an asset on their balance sheet. Suarez says they now have legal clearance to proceed, and his office is currently going through the ‘Request for Proposal’ stage, which is the next leg of the approval process.
Though the crypto world is often seen as anti-establishment and opposed to government, Suarez doesn’t think the movement is at cross purposes with his administration.
“That’s why I jumped in on crypto, and that’s why there was such a crazy response, because [people] saw that government was not antithetical; government was not trying to kill it,” he said. “On the contrary…the city of Miami understands how fundamentally important it is to our future and how it could change the paradigm in the way people live their lives.”
He also talked a little bit about climate change and the prospect of rising sea levels challenging the city’s existence in coming years. Miami is a low-elevation city, and “dry day flooding” has become common in recent years.
“100% Miami still exists in 20 years,” he said, emphasizing the money and effort Miami is putting into resilience.
“I do recognize it as a threat. You know, you can’t just put your head in the sand and pretend like it’s not happening, it doesn’t exist. We’re one of the few cities in the world that is actually putting up significant amount of resources, $200 million from our Miami Forever Fund.” He added, “And now our challenge is to be the most water resistant city on the planet.”
Tesla Model 3 prototype spotted ahead of rumored design refresh
A new Tesla Model 3 prototype with camouflage has been spotted in California ahead of a rumored refresh coming next year.
Over the last week, there have been rumors that Tesla is working on a Model 3 refresh that would come during the second half of 2023.
The project is reportedly codenamed ‘Highland’.
For a few years now, Tesla has been integrating its large casting technology into Model Y with single large casting parts replacing dozens of parts in the electric SUV.
This new technology has enabled Tesla to greatly improve manufacturing efficiency with Model Y compared to Model 3. CEO Elon Musk said that Tesla will bring the same technology to Model 3 eventually, but he couldn’t exactly say when.
The problem is that such an update to the Model 3 would temporarily slow down production and Tesla couldn’t afford that while it was still ramping up Model Y production.
However, Model Y production is now starting to exceed Model 3 production and it could be good timing for Tesla to update the Model 3 and use a design refresh to introduce the large from and rear casting.
Now a new Model 3 prototype has been spotted in Santa Cruz, California by Twitter user omg_Tesla/Rivian:
The Model 3 is equipped with manufacturer plates, which would indicate that it is owned by Tesla, and combined with the heavy camouflage in the front and back of the vehicle, it likely points to the automaker testing an updated version of the electric sedan.
However, not much can be discerned from the pictures thanks to the camouflage, which even covers large parts of the headlights.
Nonetheless, some commenters on Twitter did notice what could potentially be a camera embedded in the corner of the front right headlight:
It’s barely visible and therefore unconfirmed, but it would make sense to place a camera around that spot since Tesla’s current self-driving sensor suite has a blind spot around the bumper and it could also help with the creeping forward to see traffic before taking a turn in Full Self-Driving – something FSD Beta has issues with right now.
Tesla has always said that it would keep improving its Autopilot and Full Self-Driving hardware, but current owners who bought vehicles with the promise that self-driving will be enabled through software updates are concerned that Tesla might find that it would need a new sensor suite to achieve the promise.
What do you think about this Tesla Model 3 prototype? Is the camouflage hiding a Model 3 design refresh? A new Autopilot sensor suite? Let us know what you think in the comment section below.
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OPEC+ agrees to stick to its existing policy of reducing oil production ahead of Russia sanctions
Led by Saudi Arabia and Russia, OPEC+ agreed in early October to reduce production by 2 million barrels per day from November.
Vladimir Simicek | Afp | Getty Images
An influential alliance of oil producers on Sunday agreed to stay the course on output policy ahead of a pending ban from the European Union on Russian crude.
OPEC and non-OPEC producers, a group of 23 oil-producing nations known as OPEC+, decided to stick to its existing policy of reducing oil production by 2 million barrels per day, or about 2% of world demand, from November until the end of 2023.
Energy analysts had expected OPEC+ to consider fresh price-supporting production cuts ahead of a possible double blow to Russia’s oil revenues.
The European Union is poised to ban all imports of Russian seaborne crude from Monday, while the U.S. and other members of the G-7 will impose a price cap on the oil Russia sells to countries around the world.
The Kremlin has previously warned that any attempt to impose a price cap on Russian oil will cause more harm than good.
Oil prices have fallen to below $90 a barrel from more than $120 in early June ahead of potentially disruptive sanctions on Russian oil, weakening crude demand in China and mounting fears of a recession.
Led by Saudi Arabia and Russia, OPEC+ agreed in early October to reduce production by 2 million barrels per day from November. It came despite calls from the U.S. for the group to pump more to lower fuel prices and help the global economy.
What’s the status of California’s upcoming $10M electric bike rebate program?
California allocated $10 million for a rebate program to help make electric bikes more affordable. But hang on there; it’s not active quite yet.
The move is part of a years-long effort to help reduce the price of expensive electric bicycles for state residents. The ultimate goal is to make it easier for commuters to switch from car transportation to e-bike transportation.
It makes sense when you consider the long list of benefits. From cleaner air to reduced traffic and improved health/fitness, electric bikes solve many of the problems plaguing California (and the rest of the country).
But the path towards a statewide incentive program to reduce e-bike prices hasn’t been quick or easy.
California has earmarked over $1 billion this year as incentives for electric cars and charging infrastructure, according to Streetsblog. That’s in addition to the billions already put into electric car incentives.
Back in 2019 electric bikes finally got the attention they deserved from lawmakers when California’s S.B. 400 was passed, which included a section that permitted electric bikes to be included in future clean air vehicle incentive programs.
That paved the way for the possibility of statewide e-bike rebate programs, but it didn’t actually create any.
Last year California got one step closer to that goal when it included a $10M allocation in the state budget for an e-bike rebate program. As Assemblymember Boerner Horvath said at the time:
“Making e-bikes more affordable is one of the most effective ways to get Californians out of their cars and reduce emissions. I’m thrilled that the full funding I requested for purchase incentives, education, and training is included in the budget we approved. This program represents a priority shift in the right direction and, once implemented, will help folks from all backgrounds choose a healthier, happier way to get around.”
That was another huge step in the right direction, but it hasn’t yet resulted in an active program.
That’s expected to begin in early 2023, with a number of key guidelines for California’s first statewide e-bike voucher program already laid out.
According to the California Bicycle Association, the program will create a $750 voucher for a standard electric bicycle and a $1,500 voucher for a cargo electric bicycle. There will be additional incentives for anyone whose income is under 225% of the federal poverty level (FPL) or who lives in disadvantaged communities.
But in order to qualify for the voucher, participants’ household income must be below 400% of the FPL, which amounts to $51,000 for a single person and $106,000 for a family of four at current figures.
The program will include Class 1 electric bikes (pedal assist up to 20 mph or 32 km/h) and Class 2 electric bikes (pedal assist and/or throttle up to 20 mph or 32 km/h), but will NOT include Class 3 e-bikes (pedal assist up to 28 mph).
Qualifying bikes must also either be purchased at a local bike shop in California, or online from a company that has “a business location in California”.
The move could see California align with other states that have created or already implemented electric bicycle incentives. Vermont became the first state in the US to offer a statewide e-bike rebate program. Oregon is also working on creating an e-bike incentive program that could soon become law, as New York attempts to do the same.
Many cities such as Denver, Colorado have also implemented their own local programs, though the funding is usually much smaller than statewide programs.
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