New meme stock Corsair Gaming jumps 33% amid surging interest from Reddit traders

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A new meme stock is making the rounds on Wall Street Bets, surpassing mainstays such as GameStop and AMC Entertainment as the forums most-discussed company.

Shares of computer hardware company Corsair Gaming rose 33% on Monday to their highest since February this year, amid a surge in interest from Reddit traders.

In the past 24 hours, Corsair was the most mentioned stock on the 10-million member strong Wall Street Bets forum, garnering over 1,310 mentions, according to data from Quantitative Quiver. Clean Energy Fuels ranked as the second, followed by AMC.

One user on Monday claimed Corsair will “swallow the gaming industry and be a millionaire maker stock.”

The nearly 900-word post, which explained why the company is in a strong position to leverage demand in the gaming sector received nearly a thousand upvotes.

“Put this in your boomer dad’s portfolio (shares) and If you like gambling, buy some calls,” the post said.

Another post, which also received a thousand upvotes, detailed five stocks to watch out for this week, including Corsair. Others on the list are BlackBerry, Clean Energy, AMC, and GameStop.

Data from MarketBeat also show that 21.8% of Corsair’s shares are sold short, in contrast to Clean Energy’s 5.91%.

Meme stocks, an umbrella term describing a group of companies that have seen their stock surge since the GameStop craze in January, have been on the move again as of late. AMC shares surged at the end of May, while a new group of meme-stock names have been making the rounds on forums frequented by retail traders.

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Bitcoin surges above $40,000 after Elon Musk says Tesla will resume crypto payments when mining is cleaner

Elon Musk with a bitcoin symbol
  • Bitcoin climbed above $40,000 after Elon Musk suggested Tesla might accept it as payment again.
  • Musk said he’ll do it when there’s proof of about 50% of mining energy used is clean.
  • Tesla halted bitcoin payments last month over concern its mining process is damaging to the environment.
  • Sign up here for our daily newsletter, 10 Things Before the Opening Bell.

Bitcoin traded above $40,000 on Monday after Elon Musk tweeted Tesla would accept payment in cryptocurrency again once mining can be done using cleaner energy.

“When there’s confirmation of reasonable (~50%) clean energy usage by miners with positive future trend, Tesla will resume allowing Bitcoin transactions,” the billionaire said in a tweet.

He was responding to a Cointelegraph report that quoted Magda Wierzycka, a South African billionaire businesswoman and CEO of asset manager Sygnia, saying that Musk’s bitcoin-related tweets should have led to a regulatory investigation.

According to Wierzycka, Musk deliberately pumped up bitcoin’s value and then sold a chunk of his exposure at its peak. But the Tesla boss disputed this claim, saying “Tesla only sold ~10% of holdings to confirm BTC could be liquidated easily without moving market.”

Elon Musk tweet on resuming bitcoin payments.

Bitcoin saw further gains after billionaire Paul Tudor Jones said on CNBC he likes the digital asset as a portfolio diversifier. ” The only thing I know for certain, I want 5% in gold, 5% in bitcoin, 5% in cash, 5% in commodities,” he said on Monday.

The cryptocurrency was last trading 13% higher around $40,700 on Monday as of 9:35 a.m. ET, and it is up 40% so far this year.

“The charts suggest consolidation followed by a rally through $41,000 targets further gains to around $44,000,” Jeffrey Halley, a senior market analyst at OANDA, said.

Musk revealed in February his electric car company invested $1.5 billion in bitcoin and that it would start accepting it as payment for its vehicles. Barely three months later, Tesla made a U-turn and stopped payment in bitcoin because of how energy-intensive the mining process is.

“We are concerned about the rapidly increasing use of fossil fuels for bitcoin mining and transactions, especially coal, which has the worst emissions of any fuel,” Musk said in a tweet at the time.

It isn’t clear yet how Musk will gather data to assess bitcoin’s clean energy use. But he previously suggested that the cryptocurrency can rid itself of its negative environmental image if top miners prove they’re using greener energy by posting audited data on renewables used.

Read More: Founders of a leading crypto brokerage lay out a thesis for why ether looks ‘very cheap’ while providing a more conservative case for bitcoin – and share 2 ETH challengers to watch

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Bitcoin surges near $40,000 after Elon Musk says Tesla will resume crypto payments when mining is cleaner

Elon Musk with a bitcoin symbol
  • Bitcoin jumped above $39,000 after Elon Musk suggested Tesla might accept it as payment again.
  • Musk said he’ll do it when there’s proof of about 50% of mining energy used is clean.
  • Tesla halted bitcoin payments last month over concern its mining process is damaging to the environment.
  • Sign up here for our daily newsletter, 10 Things Before the Opening Bell.

Bitcoin traded above $39,000 for a second day on Monday after Elon Musk tweeted Tesla would accept payment in cryptocurrency again once mining can be done using cleaner energy.

“When there’s confirmation of reasonable (~50%) clean energy usage by miners with positive future trend, Tesla will resume allowing Bitcoin transactions,” the billionaire said in a tweet.

He was responding to a Cointelegraph report that quoted Magda Wierzycka, a South African billionaire businesswoman and CEO of asset manager Sygnia, saying that Musk’s bitcoin-related tweets should have led to a regulatory investigation.

According to Wierzycka, Musk deliberately pumped up bitcoin’s value and then sold a chunk of his exposure at its peak. But the Tesla boss disputed this claim, saying “Tesla only sold ~10% of holdings to confirm BTC could be liquidated easily without moving market.”

Elon Musk tweet on resuming bitcoin payments.

Bitcoin was last trading 11% higher around $39,530 on Monday as of 3:20 a.m. ET, and is up 36% so far this year.

“The charts suggest consolidation followed by a rally through $41,000 targets further gains to around $44,000,” Jeffrey Halley, a senior market analyst at OANDA, said.

Musk revealed in February his electric car company invested $1.5 billion in bitcoin and that it would start accepting it as payment for its vehicles. Barely three months later, Tesla made a U-turn and stopped payment in bitcoin because of how energy-intensive the mining process is.

“We are concerned about the rapidly increasing use of fossil fuels for bitcoin mining and transactions, especially coal, which has the worst emissions of any fuel,” Musk said in a tweet at the time.

It isn’t clear yet how Musk will gather data to assess bitcoin’s clean energy use. But he previously suggested that the cryptocurrency can rid itself of its negative environmental image if top miners prove they’re using greener energy by posting audited data on renewables used.

Read More: Founders of a leading crypto brokerage lay out a thesis for why ether looks ‘very cheap’ while providing a more conservative case for bitcoin – and share 2 ETH challengers to watch

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Renewable energy sources grew at their fastest rate since 1999 last year when COVID-19 struck, the IEA says

Wind farm denmark
A working ship stands on stilts between wind turbines erected in the Baltic Sea between the islands of Rügen and Bornholm (Denmark). In the foreground is the “Arkona” wind farm about 35 kilometers northeast of Rügen with a capacity of 385 megawatts. In the background the offshore wind turbines of the Baltic Sea wind farm “Wikinger” of the energy supplier Iberdrola.

  • Renewable energy capacity increased by 45% in 2020 the International Energy Agency said.
  • The IEA predicts that renewable energy sources will cover 90% of global power expansion in the next two years.
  • Demand for renewable energy increased during the pandemic, whilst use of other energy sources declined.
  • Sign up here for our daily newsletter, 10 Things Before the Opening Bell.

Renewable energy sources increased by 45% in 2020, accelerating at their fastest rate since 1999, as demand for clean power grew during the COVID-19 pandemic, the International Energy Agency said in a report on Tuesday. Wind energy led the expansion, as global capacity increased by 90%. Solar energy capacity grew by 23%.

The IEA links this increase in renewable energy capabilities to global policy decisions and deadlines that countries had set themselves in terms of expanding their renewables sectors. China, the US and Vietnam are credited with leading the renewables push after momentum slowed when the pandemic first hit.

“Overall, IEA quarterly deployment estimates indicate that the slowdown in renewable capacity additions was limited to Q1 2020 only, mainly in China, while construction activity continued strongly in the rest of the world despite continuous movement restrictions and supply chain delays,” the agency said in the report.

Energy markets were hit hard during the COVID-19 pandemic, which saw travel come to a halt, as lockdown restrictions forced people to stay at home. Oil prices fell and turned negative for the first time in early 2020, as demand for the fuel vanished. Crude has since recovered, as investors anticipate economies reopening.

The decline in fossil fuel use also affected biofuel demand, the IEA said. Production fell by 8% in 2020, but still exceeded expectations – 150 billion liters of biofuel were needed in 2020 vs the 144 billion the IEA had predicted. The agency expects demand to rebound in 2021 and grow by a further 7% in 2022.

Looking ahead, the IEA predicts renewable energy sources will be responsible for 90% of global power expansion in 2021 and 2022. The agency expects solar and hydrogen power to play key roles, while the growth of wind power is set to slow down after its surge in 2020.

“The acceleration of hydropower additions through 2022 is driven by the commissioning of mega-scale projects in China. Meanwhile, expansion in other renewables, led by bioenergy, remains stable and represents 3% of total new renewable capacity additions,” the IEA said.

China had already been the driving force of renewable energy expansion in 2020, accounting for half of the new capacity installations and is expected to keep this leadership position, the IEA said.

Despite President Joe Biden’s recent infrastructure plans, Europe is set to replace the US as the second-largest renewable market in 2021 thanks to national policies on climate change and deadlines that are looming. Biden’s infrastructure spending may not take effect until later this decade, the IEA said.

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Elon Musk trumpeted self-driving cars, joked about vampires, and recalled a USB-cable hunt on Tesla’s earnings call. Here are the 11 best quotes.

elon musk
Elon Musk.

  • Elon Musk discussed AI, clean energy, and production headaches on Tesla’s earnings call.
  • The Tesla CEO also mentioned fossil-fuel taxes, vampires, and USB cables.
  • Scroll down for Musk’s 11 best quotes from the call.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk made several bold predictions, trumpeted the power of clean energy, and bemoaned the difficulty of mass production during the electric-vehicle company’s first-quarter earnings call on Monday.

The self-proclaimed “Technoking of Tesla” also touched on vampires, USB cables, self-driving cars, energy taxes, and World War II, according to a transcript on Sentieo, a financial-research site.

Here are Musk’s 11 best quotes, lightly edited and condensed for clarity:

1. “More likely than not, Model Y will be the best-selling car or truck of any kind in the world in 2022.”

2. “There’s no question in my mind that with a pure-vision solution, we can make a car that is dramatically safer than the average person.” – asserting that a self-driving car, guided by multiple cameras that process images at superhuman speed, will be safer than a human-controlled car.

3. “Long term, people will think of Tesla as much as an AI robotics company as we are a car company, or an energy company.”

4. “I just love that they call it vampires.” – commenting on “vampire drain,” the term for electric batteries losing charge when not in use.

5. “You can actually power the entire United States with roughly a 100-mile grid of solar. It’s entirely possible to power all of Earth with a small percentage of Earth’s area.”

6. “Why don’t we do it? The energy basis of the earth is gigantic, super-mega-insanely gigantic. So you can’t just go and do 1 zillion terawatts overnight. You’ve got to build the production capacity for the battery cells, for the solar cells. You’ve got to put that into vehicles. You’ve got to put that into storage packs. You’ve got to put that into solar panels and Solarglass Roofs, and you’ve got to deploy all this stuff.”

7. “We should tax energy that we think is probably bad and support energy we think is probably good, just like cigarettes and alcohol, versus fruits and vegetables.”

8. “Prototypes are trivial, they’re child’s play. Production at large scale with higher liability and low cost – insanely difficult. Myself and many others at Tesla had to basically have several aneurysms to get this done.”

9. “What Tesla achieved on the automotive side was not to create an electric car. The truly profound thing on the car side is that Tesla was the first American car company to achieve volume production of a car in 100 years and not go bankrupt.”

10. “We’ve had production stop because of carpet in the trunk. We’ve had production stop because of a USB cable. At one point, for Model S, we literally raided every electronics store in the Bay Area. For a few days there, nobody could buy a USB cable in the Bay Area because we went and bought them all to put them in the car.” – describing how a shortage of one minor component out of 10,000 can halt production entirely.

11. “We’re talking millions of cars, a massive global supply chain, 50 countries, dozens of regulatory regimes. Solving those constraints and logistical problems makes World War II look trivial. I’m not kidding.”

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Elon Musk says Tesla will only sell solar panels together with its Powerwall storage battery from next week

elon musk
Tesla CEO Elon Musk.

  • Elon Musk said Tesla will now only sell its solar panel products together with its Powerwall storage battery.
  • Musk had a Twitter exchange with a solar panel customer who said their panels haven’t generated a “single watt-hour” since January.
  • Musk said in January the company was working on integrating Powerwall with its solar products.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk is going to shake up the way the company sells its solar panels.

In a tweet late on Wednesday, Musk said from next week, all sales of the company’s solar energy products will come together with its energy storage battery Powerwall.

“Solar power will feed exclusively to Powerwall. Powerwall will interface only between utility meter & house main breaker panel, enabling super simple install & seamless whole house backup during utility dropouts,” he said in a followup tweet.

Bloomberg reported this followed a complaint from Brett Winton, Director of Research at Ark Investment Management that his Tesla solar panels haven’t generated a “single watt-hour” since they were installed in January because he was waiting on his utility to approve the connection.

After Musk asked Winton if he had Powerwall he replied: “Hmm. Yes have powerwall. Everything right now is switched off; just awaiting LADWP [Los Angeles Department of Water and Power].”

Musk’s decision hasn’t come entirely out of the blue. He said during Tesla’s fourth-quarter earnings call in January that the company was focusing on integrating Powerwall with its solar division.

It also comes a week after numerous customers waiting for installations of Tesla’s Solar Roof product reported receiving new contracts increasing the price of installation by as much as 70%. It’s not yet clear whether including Powerwall in all sales of Tesla’s solar products will increase the price. Insider has emailed Tesla for clarification.

Are you a Tesla Solar Panel or Solar Roof customer? Contact this reporter at ihamilton@insider.com or iahamilton@protonmail.com.

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Honolulu-based energy storage company Blue Planet Energy hopes to bring sustainable, renewable power to Hawaii – and the world

Henk Rogers Hawaii Big Island Ranch Lab
Henk Rogers, founder of Blue Planet Energy.

  • Energy storage company Blue Planet Energy is focused on energy independence and sustainability.
  • It was founded in 2015 by Henk Rogers, who acquired the rights to Tetris in the 1980s.
  • It’s part of Hawaii’s climate change initiatives and hopes to make renewable energy more accessible.
  • This article is part of a series focused on American cities building a better tomorrow called “Advancing Cities.”

Residents and businesses in Hawaii pay more for energy than just about anywhere else in the country. Honolulu-based Blue Planet Energy is one organization that’s attempting to ease that energy burden.

Blue Planet Energy has created an energy storage system to encourage energy independence and broaden the use of renewable power. The company has about 25 employees and a network of more than 250 certified dealers that have installed thousands of its energy storage products.

“We want to decarbonize our energy system,” Chris Johnson, the company’s CEO, told Insider. “However, climate is changing. Storms are getting more intense and knocking out the grids, and so that’s where we need to deal with it.”

2   Chris Johnson
Chris Johnson, CEO of Blue Planet Energy.

Climate change conversations typically focus on mitigation and adaptation, he said, and the company aims to make the homes and businesses that use renewable energy, such as solar panels, more resilient.

Since 2013, Honolulu has ranked first in solar power per capita among the country’s 50 largest cities and third in the amount of existing photovoltaic solar power, which generates electricity directly from sunlight, installed as of 2020, according to a report by the Environment America Research & Policy Center and the Frontier Group.

“With renewable energy, you can’t control when the sun shines or when the wind blows,” Johnson said. “But we need steady, reliable energy for our homes, for our businesses, for our critical infrastructure, and so we create energy storage solutions that allow the energy to be consumed when you need it. And they’re also resilient, so even if the grid goes down, you can still stay up and running.”

Blue Planet Energy Bamboo Living Big Island Hawaii
Blue Planet Energy solar panels on a home on the Big Island in Hawaii.

Here’s a look at how Blue Planet Energy’s renewable energy systems work, and how the company’s mission aligns with Honolulu’s sustainability goals.

The Blue Planet name has influenced climate change policy in Hawaii

Blue Planet Energy was founded in 2015 by Henk Rogers, who discovered and acquired the rights to the video game Tetris in the 1980s. More recently, he’s been committed to expanding clean energy and reducing and ultimately eliminating dependence on fossil fuel.

Henk Rogers Founder Blue Planet Energy 2
Henk Rogers, founder of Blue Planet Energy.

Rogers also founded the Blue Planet Foundation, a nonprofit working to solve climate change by leading the way in the transition to 100% clean energy. The organization has been influential in clean-energy policy adoption in Hawaii and Honolulu, including a bill requiring the state’s utilities to generate 100% of their electricity from renewable energy, which Hawaii Gov. David Ige signed into law in 2015. Hawaii was the first state to have such a law.

Blue Planet Energy’s energy storage systems are an extension of Rogers’ vision. While the company was founded in Honolulu and has a strong footprint in Hawaii, Johnson said it now has installations in more than 30 states, Puerto Rico, and several Caribbean islands, and is growing its presence in Mexico, Central America, and Canada.

Blue Planet Energy Violeta Reyes Perez School Puerto Rico 2
Violeta Reyes Perez School in Puerto Rico.

“Henk, our founder, really thought that if we can achieve this in Hawaii, we could take that as a model to other places,” Johnson said. “It’s essentially a learning laboratory for sustainability.”

Energy storage solutions offer homes and businesses more resilient power sources

In March 2021, Blue Planet Energy launched a new product, the Blue Ion HI. The new energy storage system joins the company’s Blue Ion LX.

“Those are basically similar in approach and functionality but designed for slightly different situations,” Johnson said. “The LX is for larger installations, including commercial and industrial or community resilient infrastructure. Our HI offering is residential and small commercial.”

The Blue Ion LX accommodates on- or off-grid requirements for facilities like warehouses, corporate headquarters, and manufacturers. The battery stores excess solar energy or adjusts to traditional energy sources to avoid power interruptions, and increases the value of a company’s investment in renewable energy.

Blue Planet Energy Blue Ion LX Brick Warehouse
Blue Ion LX by Blue Planet Energy.

The Blue Ion HI is a solution for homes and businesses. It captures energy from renewable and traditional sources, easily switches from grid to battery power, and provides on-demand energy. The products are also stackable and can be configured in different ways to suit the needs of the property.

Blue Planet Energy Blue Ion HI Stacked
Blue Ion HI by Blue Planet Energy.

Henk, Johnson said, “likes things to be able to fit together nicely,” so they made the batteries stackable and easily scalable.

Blue Planet Energy’s customers mainly use its batteries to store excess solar energy, either displacing their use of a grid or a generator, Johnson said. This is a valuable service as energy bills continue to rise and natural disasters impact power grids.

Hawaii has some of the highest energy costs in the nation, according to the US Energy Information Administration. It’s also vulnerable to hurricanes, flooding, and tsunamis, causing a loss of electricity. The cost of power is also going up across the country, where natural disasters also knock out power. For instance, Texas saw massive power outages after a major snowstorm and unusually cold temperatures hit in February.

“We need to have resilient infrastructure so we can bounce back quickly,” Johnson said. “If we put a lot of renewables out there without balancing it out with energy storage, the grid could be unstable or not available when you need it, and so we’re part of making sure that the grid can absorb a lot of renewables, it can recover and always be on.”

Expansion plans aim to make renewable energy more affordable and accessible

Helping to create more resilient and affordable energy systems aligns with the initiatives of Honolulu’s Office of Climate Change, Sustainability and Resiliency, Johnson said. Blue Planet Energy has worked with the office on developing renewable energy and resilience best practices, and the company plans to continue this work with the city’s new administration under Mayor Rick Blangiardi, which just took over in January.

To further address affordability, Johnson said the company recently launched a new financing product to make its energy storage systems more accessible to commercial customers. It doesn’t require a down payment and offers instant energy savings on solar power and Blue Ion storage installation.

The cost of Blue Planet Energy’s installations vary depending on a property’s energy needs and can range from tens of thousands of dollars to hundreds of thousands for large buildings with extensive power needs, according to the company. Energy storage installation costs roughly the same as solar installation.

The average cost for solar panel installation in the US varies by state, but averages $17,760 to $23,828 after the federal solar tax credit, which lowers the cost by 26%, according to EnergySage. Some states and local governments also offer rebates and tax credits for solar systems.

Blue Planet Energy Life Edited Maui Hawaii 1
Blue Planet Energy in Maui, Hawaii.

Blue Planet Energy is in a period of “scaling and acceleration,” Johnson said. Over the next decade, the company plans to expand and strives to alleviate the effects of climate change, which are expected to worsen.

“This is really crunch time,” he said. “How do we deliver the highest-quality, most reliable, safest solution at scale as fast as we can? Get it out on the ground, into homes, businesses, and critical infrastructure so that we can stabilize the grid and we can stabilize our climate.”

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These 3 sectors are set to boom on the back of Biden’s massive infrastructure spending plan, Morgan Stanley says

Biden
President Joe Biden has framed his infrastructure plan as a means of strengthening democracy and undermining autocracy.

  • President Biden has proposed around $4 trillion in infrastructure spending in two separate plans.
  • Morgan Stanley laid out three sectors set to benefit from the spending in the “Thoughts on the Market Podcast.”
  • The healthcare, clean energy, and cement/steel sectors were the investment bank’s top picks.
  • Sign up here for our daily newsletter, 10 Things Before the Opening Bell.

Morgan Stanley highlighted three sectors set to benefit from President Biden’s infrastructure plan in the “Thoughts on the Market Podcast” with Michael Zezas on Wednesday.

President Biden unveiled his $2.3 trillion American Jobs Plan in late March and is reportedly readying another spending package that would bring the administration’s total infrastructure spend to roughly $4 trillion.

Morgan Stanley said the cement and steel, clean energy, and healthcare sectors will be the top three beneficiaries of the historic cash infusion.

This isn’t the first time the investment bank has recommended a group of stocks based on the recent rise in infrastructure spending.

In an early April note to clients, Michael Wilson, Morgan Stanley’s Chief Investment Officer, said he believes “investors should consider a mix of traditional cyclicals and new beneficiaries that will gain from the combination of strong economic growth, as well as federal initiatives to bring US infrastructure into the 21st century.”

Clean Energy

The extension of key green energy tax credits coupled with potential new tax credits from Biden’s spending plan are set to buoy the clean energy sector moving forward, according to Morgan Stanley.

The president’s plan also contains over $170 billion for electric vehicle technology, which Morgan Stanley says will help to bolster the sector despite high valuations.

In a note to clients on April 9, Wedbush’s Dan Ives echoed similar sentiments to the investment bank, saying that he believes Biden’s plan will bring about a “green title wave” for electric vehicles.

“The lifting of the 200k EV tax credit ceiling (restored to Tesla and GM) and a likely $10k+ EV tax rebate will be a major catalyst for EV growth in the US,” Ives said.

Cement and Steel

Morgan Stanley also highlighted the obvious beneficiaries of the infrastructure spending, cement and steel companies.

With $1 trillion set to be spent on transportation, water, and affordable housing, analysts at Morgan Stanley believe we are headed for an “infrastructure supercycle.”

The investment bank said over 200 million tons of cement will be used due to the infrastructure spending alone.

However, some market commentators question how much of the spending package has already been priced in.

When asked about which sectors may benefit from infrastructure spending, Burton Hollifield, a professor of finance at Carnegie Mellon University, told Insider that he believes much of the infrastructure spending bill has already been priced into equities.

Stock prices in the sector appear to back up Hollifield’s belief. Shares of US Concrete have already jumped 62% in 2021, and US Steel has followed suit, with shares rising 33% year-to-date.

Healthcare

Finally, Morgan Stanley analysts said they believe the healthcare sector will get a boost from President Biden’s new “human infrastructure” spending.

These “human infrastructure” measures include the expansion of affordable care act subsidies and a possible lowering of the medicare age.

Morgan Stanley says these changes would be a “fundamental positive for larger healthcare providers” as there will be more healthcare business to do overall, and larger healthcare companies would have the “scale to engage profitably.”

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How Honolulu, Hawaii is working toward sustainability and supporting its residents in the process

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Solar panels on top of homes in a Honolulu neighborhood.

  • Honolulu has been focused on sustainability and climate change since receiving a grant in 2016.
  • Its resilience plan has promoted access to renewable energy and expanded clean transportation.
  • Other initiatives include reducing energy bills and addressing hunger by supporting local farmers.
  • This article is part of a series focused on American cities building a better tomorrow called “Advancing Cities.”

In his first state-of-the-city speech in mid-March, Rick Blangiardi, mayor of Honolulu, Hawaii, emphasized the city’s commitment to “climate resilience.”

“From sea level rise, rain bombs, and increasing temperatures, we’re taking steps toward a climate-ready Oahu,” said the mayor, who was sworn in at the start of 2021. The island of Oahu is home to the city and county of Honolulu.

“We’re shifting from talking about policy to doing something about it,” Blangiardi added.

Sustainability and climate change are issues that Honolulu’s leaders have been working to address for years. In 2016, the city was awarded a 100 Resilient Cities Initiative Grant from the Rockefeller Foundation to help fund the hiring of a chief resilience officer to work with the city on crafting climate change and resilience plans.

Since then, Honolulu has debuted a Resilience Strategy and a Climate Action Plan, which have helped inspire citywide legislation to reduce the energy burden on residents, promote access to renewable energy, expand clean transportation, and support locally grown food producers.

Here’s a look at some of Honolulu’s sustainability initiatives.

Codifying the Resilience Office’s responsibilities will help Honolulu meet its sustainability goals

Oʻahu Resilience Strategy Steering Committee members meeting during development phase of the strategy, which includes Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi.
Oahu Resilience Strategy Steering Committee members meeting during the development phase of the strategy, which includes Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi.

The Office of Climate Change, Sustainability and Resiliency was created by a city charter amendment that was approved by the public in 2016. A new bill signed into law in December 2020 “codifies the duties, responsibilities, and reporting requirements” of the office to ensure Honolulu meets its climate change and sustainability goals. 

Bill 65 establishes an energy benchmarking system, requiring Honolulu to create and report energy and water use benchmarks for city-owned buildings. The rule is estimated to save the city $7 million over the next decade. The bill also specifies that the city will transition to 100% renewable energy and become carbon neutral by 2045.  

It also addresses many other climate change and sustainability measures, including a One Water policy, examining efficiencies across the city’s water system. 

The Resilience Strategy addresses affordability and climate change

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The Resilience Office engaging community members on their perspectives of “Resilience.”

One of the central initiatives of the Resilience Office is the Oahu Resilience Strategy, which aims to address “long-term affordability and the impacts of a climate crisis that is already driving islanders from their homes,” according to the office’s website. 

Planning began in 2017 when the office met with Oahu’s 33 neighborhood boards to survey residents about what concerned them most about climate change and how they thought it could be addressed, Matthew Gonser, chief resilience officer and executive director of Honolulu’s Office of Climate Change, Sustainability and Resiliency, told Insider. 

Hundreds of ideas were gathered from the community. Those concepts were narrowed down into 44 actions, comprising the Resilience Strategy. The strategy focuses on four broad subjects: long-term affordability, natural disaster preparedness and response, climate change, and local community leadership. 

By the end of 2020, significant progress had been made on about half of the 44 resilience actions, Gonser said.

The Climate Action Plan outlines what’s needed to address climate change long term

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The City and County of Honolulu Climate Action Plan open house community engagement session with Hawaii Pacific University and the Chamber of Commerce Hawaii.

Honolulu’s Resilience Office released the city’s Climate Action Plan in December 2020.

The plan was developed based on scientific evidence and community input to fight climate change and reduce fossil fuel emissions on Oahu. It spells out the needed programs, policies, and actions for the city to become carbon neutral by 2045 — and includes nine strategies to focus on over the next five years, including increasing renewable energy and energy efficiency. 

To develop the Climate Action Plan, community meetings with Honolulu City Council members, Hawaii Pacific University, the University of Hawaii at Mānoa, and the Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii were held, and working groups with stakeholders were set up, Gonser said. 

During the first few months of 2021, the public had the chance to share their opinions and concerns about the plan before it goes to the city council. Gonser said the Climate Action Plan will likely be adopted this year. 

Honolulu updated parking ordinances to promote walkability and the use of clean energy transportation

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Jeff Mikulina, executive director of Blue Planet, speaking at the signing of Ordinance 20-41, related to off-street parking and loading.

At the end of 2020, former mayor Kirk Caldwell signed Bill 2 to update Honolulu’s mandatory parking requirements for new developments. It gives developers more flexibility in how much parking to build and allows opportunities for the land to be used for other purposes, such as affordable housing. 

“It’s making sure that our rules and regulations don’t force overbuilding of parking, empowering more choice and leaving it to developers to determine what’s needed,” Gonser said. 

The bill supports walkable neighborhoods and cleaner transportation options, such as biking and public transportation, which Honolulu plans to transition to clean fuel. 

It could also make housing more affordable since constructing and maintaining parking is sometimes a hidden cost for renters, according to an analysis by the Ulupono Initiative, a Honolulu-based organization that provides grants, investments, and advocacy to support renewable energy, locally produced food, and other sustainability-minded projects.

For urban Honolulu renters, up to 37% of their rent may go toward parking, which, for decades, has often been built based on city regulation rather than actual need.   

“The bill makes progress in the right direction, better aligning with city climate and community goals, while allowing parking to remain accessible for those who genuinely need it and not requiring it of those who don’t,” Kathleen Rooney, Ulupono Initiative’s director of transportation policy and programs, said when the bill was signed

Making solar power more accessible eases Honolulu’s energy burden

Solar array installation on top of the Board of Water Supply, City and County of Honolulu
Solar array installation on top of the Board of Water Supply.

Hawaii has one of the highest average electricity retail prices in the country, according to the US Energy Information Administration, and the state relies on petroleum for most of its electricity generation. 

Reducing the energy burden is a key focus area of Honolulu’s Resilience Office. In December, the city enacted Bill 58 to streamline the permitting process for residential clean energy products, such as solar power, energy storage, and electric vehicle chargers. The goal is to cut down on the costs and time it takes to install solar systems. 

Creating more equitable access to renewable energy is an important component in making Honolulu an affordable place to live, Gonser said. 

“We have one of the highest energy burdens in the nation,” he said. “It’s updating our energy code and making sure that all new things that are being built are ensuring long-term affordability for residents and that they can benefit from progressive infrastructure so that we can reduce the energy burden over time.”

New performance-based regulations could lower energy bills for residents

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A timeline of the Hawaiian Public Utilities Commission.

As another initiative aimed at reducing energy bills, Hawaii’s Public Utilities Commission approved a new Performance-Based Regulation Framework in late 2020. The framework would transform utility company Hawaiian Electric by making its operations more efficient, lowering electricity rates, improving services, and meeting the state’s clean energy goals. 

“That’s really groundbreaking,” Amy Hennessy, senior vice president of communications and external affairs at Ulupono Initiative, which provided research and other information to guide the framework’s adoption, told Insider. “The impacts toward changing the incentives for our utility to transform into a renewable energy future are significant.” 

The new structure provides financial incentives for the electric company to meet certain goals, like creating savings for lower-income customers and reducing greenhouse gases. It also separates the utility’s profits from capital investments, creating a cost-of-service approach. 

Matching grant provides $1 million to fight hunger and support local food producers

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The Hawaii Farm Bureau.

Hunger has been an ongoing problem for many communities, but the pandemic worsened the situation, as unemployment increased and many families have faced new financial struggles. 

To address hunger in Hawaii, Gov. David Ige announced in October 2020 that the state would provide a $500,000 matching donation to the DA BUX Double Up Food Bucks program, which doubles the amount of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, formerly known as food stamps, that are spent on locally grown food. 

Several private-sector organizations raised $500,000 for the program, including the Stupski Foundation and Ulupono Initiative, which each provided $200,000. The state match offers $1 million total for the program. 

Addressing hunger and providing incentives to encourage residents to buy more locally grown and produced food are part of Honolulu’s Resilience Strategy. The DA BUX Double Up Food Bucks program also aims to strengthen the local economy because it keeps residents’ food budgets on the island.

“A million dollars going out into communities for not just those who need access to food, but also our local farmers who needed a market — it’s actually putting dollars in their pockets while they’re growing to help provide healthy options for the community,” Hennessy said. “So it’s really a triple win.”

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Copper is ‘the new oil’ and could reach $15,000 by 2025 as the world transitions to clean energy, Goldman Sachs says

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A worker inspects batches of processed copper at Mutanda Mining Sarl, Democratic Republic of the Congo

Copper will be crucial in achieving decarbonization and replacing oil with renewable energy sources, and right now, the market is facing a supply crunch that could boost the price by more than 60% in four years, Goldman Sachs said in a report on Tuesday.

Increased demand and likely low supply are set to drive up the price from the current levels of around $9,000 per ton to $15,000 per ton by 2025, the bank said.

As a cost-effective metal, copper is majorly important in the process of creating, storing and distributing clean energy from the wind, sun and geothermal sources as it has the physical attributes needed to do so, Goldman’s team of analysts, led by Jeff Currie, said in a report titled “Copper is the new oil”.

“Discussions of peak oil demand overlook the fact that without a surge in the use of copper and other key metals, the substitution of renewables for oil will not happen,’ the report said.

Copper will be needed to create the new infrastructure systems required for clean energy to replace oil and gas, however there has not been enough of a focus on this so far according to the report.

Demand will therefore significantly increase, by up to 900% to 8.7 million tons by 2030, if green technologies are adopted en masse, the bank estimates. Should this process be slower, demand will still surge to 5.4 million tons, or by almost 600%.

Copper is a key part of sustainable technologies, including electric vehicle batteries and deriving clean energy. As the deadline of the Paris Agreement comes closer, political and economic pushes towards renewable energy and green technology are becoming stronger.

Just two weeks ago, US President Biden announced an infrastructure package worth $2 trillion, which specifically encourages new sustainable technologies and infrastructure projects.

In its current state however, the copper market is not prepared for the increased demand, Goldman Sachs argue. The copper price has risen by about 80% in the last 12 months, but there hasn’t been a matching rise in output.

“The market is already tight as pandemic stimulus (particularly in China) have supported a resurgence in demand, set against stagnant supply conditions,” Goldman said.

The benchmark three-month copper futures price on the London Metal Exchange was last up 1.4% at around $9,022 a ton, while NYMEX copper futures were up 1.5% at $4.09 a pound.

As the expansion of mines and creation of new copper production fields takes years, this is likely to lead to shortages of the metal. To prevent a depletion of copper supply within two years, prices must rise now to encourage investment and an expansion in output, Goldman said.

At present, Goldman Sachs “now estimate a long-term supply gap of 8.2 million tons by 2030, twice the size of the gap that triggered the bull market in copper in the early 2000s”.

Copper production declined in 2020 due to government restrictions and lockdowns during the Covid-19 pandemic. The world’s largest copper producers, Chile and Peru, were hit especially hard by the pandemic, which could impact supply until 2023, according to commodity analysts S&P Global. Last week, prices spiked following Chilean border closures related to the pandemic.

Global copper production is however predicted to increase by 5.6% in 2021 after declining by 2.6% in 2020, according to a GlobalData report published in February.

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