Posts with «utility industry» label

GM will limit warranty transfers and ban buyers from flipping Hummer EVs

GM doesn't want people buying some of its newer and most sought-after models, such as the GMC Hummer EV, to quickly sell them for a profit. The automaker is implementing several aggressive measures meant to discourage the practice, even if it ends up losing the company some customers. In a letter obtained by Corvette Blogger, Steve Carlisle, GM President for North America, told the GM Dealership team that the company is "limiting the transferability of certain warranties" if the vehicle being resold was purchased within the past 12 months. Further, GM will ban the seller from "placing future sold orders or reservations for certain high demand models (as identified by GM)."

Carlisle said the models affected by this new rule are the GMC Hummer EVs (SUT and SUV), the 23MY Cadillac Escalade-V and the Chevrolet Corvette Z06. GM has been struggling to keep up with the demand for its electric Hummer vehicles, and the company said it's because it was developed from scratch and was built on top of its new Ultium EV platform. According to a Wall Street Journal report earlier this month, GM has only been producing up to a dozen electric Hummers a day. A spokesperson told the publication that the company's output will increase sharply in the second half of the year, but the automaker has over 70,000 reservations for the vehicle, and some people may run out of patience and just purchase from a reseller. 

"When vehicles are quickly resold, particularly by unauthorized dealers or other resellers that do not adhere to GM's standards, the customer experience suffers and GM's brands are damaged," Carlisle said, explaining the reason behind the automaker's decision. "These changes are being implemented to ensure an exemplary customer experience, to ensure our brands remain strong, and to help prioritize ownership by brand enthusiasts and loyal customers."

In addition to these particular measures, GM also recently announced that it's giving $5,000 in reward points to customers who keep their eighth-generation Corvette Z06 sports car for a year.

We’re heading for a messy, and expensive, breakup with natural gas

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has exacerbated a number of fault lines already present within the global energy supply chain. This is especially true in Europe, where many countries were reliant on the superstate's natural resources, and are now hastily looking to cut ties before the supply is shut off. This has revealed the fragility of Europe’s energy market, and caused it to drive up demand and prices for consumers all over the globe.

In the UK, things are becoming increasingly dire and energy prices are skyrocketing. Bad planning on the infrastructure side and the cancellation of several major domestic energy efficiency programs are exacerbating the problem. It’s clear that real, useful action on the national level isn’t coming any time soon. So, I wondered, what would happen if I, personally, simply tried to break up with natural gas on my own? It’s relatively straightforward but, as it turns out, it comes at a cost that only one percenters will be able to bear. 

Dan Cooper: Energy consumer

I live in a four-bedroom, end-terraced house that’s around 150 years old and I’ve tried, as best as I can, to renovate it in an eco-friendly way. Since we bought it almost a decade ago, my wife and I have insulated most of the rooms, installed a new gas central heating system and hot water cylinder. We are, like nearly 20 million other households in the UK, reliant on natural gas to supply our home heating, hot water and cooking. And in the period between January 8th and April 7th, 2022, I was billed on the following usage:

Usage (kWh)

Cost Per Unit (GBP)

Cost (GBP)

Electricity (incl. standing charge)




Gas (incl. standing charge)




Total (incl. tax and other charges)


Essentially, I paid around $1,300 for my natural gas and electricity in the first quarter of 2022. That figure is likely to rise significantly, as the UK’s mandatory price cap on energy rose by more than 50 percent in April. A further price rise is scheduled for October, with the figure set at £2,800 per year, even though wholesale energy prices are no longer increasing. It’s likely that my energy bill for the first quarter of 2023 will be nearly twice what I’ve just paid. In 2020, the UK reported that 3.16 million households were unable to pay for their energy costs; that figure is likely to leap by 2023.

In the US, the EIA says that monthly utility bills rose to a national average of $122 in 2021, with Hawaii ($178 per month) and Utah ($82 per month) the most expensive and cheapest state to buy energy in. The average price per kWh is around 13.7 cents, which is less than half the comparable price in the UK as it currently stands. For natural gas, the average natural gas price for residential customers was $10.84 per thousand cubic feet in 2020.

The gas problem

Xinhua News Agency via Getty Images

Much of Europe is reliant on natural gas, a significant proportion of which was supplied by Russia. Despite a rapid decline in domestic production, Europe sought to make natural gas the bedrock of its energy policy in the medium term. A 2013 policy paper written by Sami Andoura and Clémentine d’Oultremont outlined the reasons why officials were banking on it. “An economically attractive option for investors, a potential backup source for renewables and the cleanest fossil fuel, natural gas is expected to play an important role in the European transition towards a low-carbon economy by 2050.” This is despite the fact that “European energy resources are being depleted, and energy demand is growing.”

In 2007, then EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs said that the bloc is “dependent on imports for over one half of our energy use.” He added that energy security is a “European security issue,” and that the bloc was vulnerable to disruption. “In 10 years, from 1995 to 2005, natural gas consumption in the EU countries has increased from 369 billion to 510 billion m3 [of gas] year,” he said. He added that the EU’s own production capacity and reserves peaked in the year 2000.

The EU’s plan was to pivot toward Liquified Natural Gas (LNG), methane which has been filtered and cooled to a liquid for easier transportation. It enables energy supplies from further afield to be brought over to Europe to satisfy the continent’s need for natural gas. But the invasion of Ukraine by Russia has meant that this transition has now needed to be accelerated as leaders swear off Russian-sourced gas and oil. And while the plan is to push more investment into renewables, LNG imports are expected to fill much of the gap for now.

Except, and this is crucial, many of the policy decisions made during this period seem to be in the belief that nothing bad would, or could, disrupt supply. Here in the UK, wholesale gas prices have risen five times since the start of 2021 but there’s very little infrastructure available to mitigate price fluctuations. 

The Rough Field is a region in the North Sea situated 18 miles off the coast of Yorkshire, and was previously a source of natural gas for the UK. In 1985, however, it was converted into a natural gas storage facility with a capacity of 3.31 billion cubic meters. This one facility was able to fulfill the country’s energy needs for a little more than a week at a time and was considered a key asset to maintaining the UK’s energy security.

However, Centrica, the private company spun out of the former state-owned British Gas, opted to close the field in 2017. It cited safety fears and the high cost of repair as justification for the move, saying that alternative sources of gas – in the form of LNG – were available. At the time, one gas trader told Bloomberg that the closure would “boost winter prices” and “create seasonal swings in wholesale energy costs.” He added that the UK would now be “competing with Asia for winter gas cargoes,” raising prices and increasing reliance on these shipments. 

And, unsurprisingly, the ramifications of this decision were felt in the summer of 2017 when a pair of LNG tankers from Qatar changed course. The vessels were going to the UK, and when they shifted direction, Bloomberg reported that prices started to shift upward almost instantly. 

Analysis from TransitionZero, reported by The Guardian, says that the costs associated with natural gas are now so high that it’s no longer worth investing in as a “transition fuel.” It says that the cost to switch from coal to gas is around $235 per ton of CO2, compared to just $62 for renewables as well as the necessary battery storage.

Swearing off gas

MarianVejcik via Getty Images

In order to break up with gas in my own home, I’ll need to swap out my stovetop (not so hard) and my whole central heating system (pretty hard). The former I can likely achieve for a few hundred dollars, plus or minus the cost of installation. (Some units just plug in to a standard wall socket, so I may be able to do much of the work myself if I’m feeling up to the task.) Of course, getting a professional to unpick the gas pipeline that connects to my stovetop is going to be harder. 

Unfortunately, replacing a 35kW condensing gas boiler (I have the Worcester Bosch Greenstar 35CDi) is going to be a lot harder. The obvious choice is an Air Source Heat Pump (ASHP), or even a geothermal Ground Source Heat Pump (GSHP), both of which are more environmentally-friendly. After all, both are more energy-efficient than a gas boiler, and both run on electricity which is theoretically cleaner.

More generally, the UK’s Energy Saving Trust, a Government-backed body with a mission to advocate for energy efficiency, says that the average Briton should expect to pay between £7,000 and £13,000 to install an ASHP. Much of that figure is dependent on how much of your home’s existing hardware you’ll need to replace. A GSHP is even more expensive, with the price starting at £14,000 and rising to closer to £20,000 depending on both your home’s existing plumbing and the need to dig a bore hole outside. 

In my case, heat pump specialists told me that, give or take whatever nasties were found during installation, I could expect to pay up to £27,000 ($33,493). This included a new ASHP, radiators, hot water and buffer cylinders, pumps, piping, controllers, parts and labor. Mercifully, the UK is launching a scheme to offer a £5,000 ($6,200) discount on any new heat pump installations. But that still means that I’m paying north of £20,000 (and ripping out a lot of existing materials with plenty of life left in them) to make the switch. 

In the US, there’s plenty of difference on a state level, but at the federal level, you can get a tax credit on the purchase of a qualifying GSHP. A system installed before January 1st, 2023, will earn a 26 percent credit, while a unit running before January 1st, 2024, will be eligible for a 22 percent credit. Purchasers of a qualifying ASHP, meanwhile, were entitled to a $300 tax credit until the end of 2021. 

The contractors also provided me with a calculation of my potential energy savings over the following seven years. It turns out that I’d actually be spending £76 more on fuel per month, and £532 over the whole period. On one hand, if I had the cash to spare, it’s a small price to pay to dramatically reduce my personal carbon emissions. On the other, I was hoping that the initial investment would help me reduce costs overall, but that's not the case while the cost of gas is (ostensibly) cheaper than electricity. (This will, of course, change as energy prices surge in 2023, however, but I can only look at the data as it presently stands.)

An aside: To be honest with you all, I was fully aware that the economic case for installing a heat pump was always going to be a shaky one. When speaking to industry figures last year, they said that the conversation around “payback” isn’t shared when installing standard gas boilers. It doesn’t help that, at present, levies on energy mean that natural gas is subsidized more than energy, disincentivizing people making the switch. The rise of electric cars, too, has meant that demand for power is going to increase sharply as more people switch, forcing greater investment in generation. What’s required just as urgent is a series of measures to promote energy efficiency to reduce overall demand for both gas and electricity. 

Energy efficiency

Dan Kitwood via Getty Images

The UK has had an on-again, off-again relationship with climate change mitigation measures, which has helped sow the seeds of this latest crisis. The country, with low winter temperatures, relies almost exclusively on natural gas to heat its homes, its largest energy-consuming sector. As I reported last year, around 85 percent of UK homes are heated by burning natural gas in domestic boilers. 

Work to reduce the UK’s extraordinary demand for natural gas was sabotaged by government in 2013. In 2009, under the previous Labour government, a series of levies on energy companies were introduced under the Community Energy Saving Programme. These levies were added to domestic energy bills, with the proceeds funding works to install wall or roof insulation, as well as energy-efficient heating systems and heating controllers for people on low incomes. The idea was to reduce demand for gas by making homes, and the systems that heated them, far more efficient since most of the UK’s housing stock was insufficiently insulated when built. 

But in 2013, then-Conservative-Prime Minister David Cameron was reportedly quoted as saying that he wanted to reduce the cost of domestic energy bills by getting “rid of all the green crap.” At the time, The Guardian reported that while the wording was not corroborated by government officials, the sentiment was. Essentially, that meant scrapping the levies, which at the time GreenBusinessWatch said was around eight percent of the total cost of domestic energy. Cameron’s administration also scrapped a plan to build zero-carbon homes, and effectively banned the construction of onshore windfarms which would have helped reduce the cost of domestic electricity generation. 

In 2021, the UK’s Committee on Climate Change examined the fallout from this decision, saying that Cameron’s decision kneecapped efforts to reduce demand for natural gas. As Carbon Brief highlighted at the start of 2022, in 2012, there were nearly 2.5 million energy efficiency improvements installed. By 2013, that figure had fallen to just 292,593. The drop off, the Committee on Climate Change believes, has caused insulation installations to fall to “only a third of the rate needed by 2021” to meet the national targets for curbing climate emissions. 

Carbon Brief’s report suggests that the financial savings missed by the elimination of these small levies – the “green crap,” – has cost UK households around £2.5 billion. In recent years, a pressure group – Insulate Britain – has undertaken protests at major traffic intersections to help highlight the need for a new retrofit program to be launched. The current government’s response to their pleas has been to call for tougher criminal penalties for protesters including a jail term of up to six months.

A chart, courtesy of Carbon Brief, showing the impact of the removal of the 'green crap' levies on domestic energy-efficiency installations in the UK.
Carbon Brief

Making my own power

Andia via Getty Images

Looking back through my energy bills over the last few years, my household’s annual electricity consumption is around 4,500kWh per year. A heat pump would likely add a further 6,000kWh to my energy bill, not to mention any additional cost for switching to all-electric cooking. It would be sensible to see if I could generate some, or all, of my own energy at home using solar panels to help reduce the potential bill costs. 

The Energy Saving Trust says that the average homeowner can expect to pay £6,500 for a 4.2kWp system on the roof of their home. Environmental factors such as the country you live in and orientation of your property mean you can’t be certain how much power you’ll get out of a specific solar panel, but we can make educated guesses. For instance, the UK’s Renewable Energy Hub says you can expect to get around 850kW per year out of a 1kW system. For a theoretical 5kWp system in my location, the Energy Saving Trust thinks I’ll be able to generate around 4,581kWh per year. 

Sadly, I live in an area where, even though my roof is brand new and strong enough to take panels, they aren’t allowed. This is because it is an area of “architectural or historic interest where the character and appearance [of the area] needs to be protected or improved.” Consequently, I needed to explore work to ground-mount solar panels in my back garden, which gets plenty of sunlight. 

While I expected grounded panel installations to be much cheaper, they apparently aren’t. Two contractors I spoke to said that while their average roof-based installation is between £5,000 and £7,000, a 6kWp system on the ground would cost closer to £20,000. It would be, in fact, cheaper to build a sturdy shed in the bit of back yard I had my eye on and install a solar system on top of there, compared to just getting the mounting set up on the ground. That’s likely to spool out the cost even further, and that’s before we get to the point of talking about battery storage. 

The bill

undefined undefined via Getty Images

For this rather nifty thought experiment, the cost for me to be able to walk away from natural gas entirely would be north of £30,000 ($37,000). Given that the average UK salary is roughly £38,000, it’s a sum that is beyond the reach of most people without taking out a hefty loan. This is, fundamentally, why the need for government action is so urgent, since it is certainly beyond the ability of most people to achieve this change on their own. 

In fact, it’s going to require significant movement from central government not just in the UK but elsewhere to really shake our love-hate relationship with natural gas. Unfortunately, given that it’s cheap, cleaner than coal and the energy lobby has plenty of muscle behind it, that’s not likely to happen soon. And so we’re stuck in a trap – it’s too expensive to do it ourselves (although that’ll certainly be an interesting experiment to undertake) and there’s no help coming, despite the energy crisis that’s unfurling around us.

FCC cracks down on robocalls originating from small carriers

Starting today, small phone carriers must implement a special caller ID authentication tool that will help identify robocallers, the Federal Communication Commission announced. Known as STIR/SHAKEN, major carriers such as AT&T and Verizon — due to an FCC rule adopted in 2020 — have had the same tool in place since last year. The agency initially gave small carriers a more generous deadline of June 2023 to adopt STIR/SHAKEN, but opted to fast-track adoption because it discovered "a subset of these small voice service providers were originating an increasing quantity of illegal robocalls."

But as a new report from the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) notes, merely flagging suspected robocalls is not enough to tackle the robocall industry. "The problem is that applying the STIR/SHAKEN methodology requires only that originating providers apply a certification indicating how confident they are that the caller ID displayed in the calls is correct," the report states. Presumably, this means calls can still be routed through gateway carriers from abroad where the FCC's rules don't apply. But as EPIC also mentions, implementing STIR/SHAKEN may help identify spam callers, but there aren't any real metrics in place by which to measure how effective carriers are at stopping the calls. "The FCC’s pending regulatory efforts would continue to require only that providers have procedures in place to mitigate illegal robocalls," the report points out, "with no meaningful and enforceable requirement that these procedures actually be effective."

Atlassian co-founder takes big step toward shutting down Australia's coal power

Atlassian co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes just scored a major coup in his quest to end Australia's use of coal energy. The Wall Street Journalreports AGL Energy, Australia's worst emissions producer, has withdrawn plans to 'demerge' its retail power and generation units (thus keeping coal power plants running longer) after Cannon-Brookes bought over 11 percent of the company's stock. The breakup plan is unlikely to pass a shareholder vote after the tech executive's move, AGL said.

Both the chairman and CEO of AGL are stepping down as a result of the failed demerger. The board of directors is also conducting a review of the company's strategy, and plans broader changes to the board as well as overall management. The directors want to deliver the best value in light of "Australia's energy transition," the company added.

Cannon-Brookes hopes AGL can shut down the coal plants about 10 years sooner than the company's 2045 goal. He originally tried to buy AGL outright with help from Canadian investment giant Brookfield Asset Management, but resorted to buying stock after the energy provider rejected the offers.

The Atlassian exec's renewable energy push began in 2017, when he learned of Tesla's proposal to end southern Australian blackouts using large-scale battery storage. He has long singled out AGL as a target. According to Cannon-Brookes, AGL represents about 8 percent of Australia's greenhouse gas emissions. That's more than every car in the country, and more than some entire developed countries.

The stock ploy won't guarantee that AGL shuts down its coal plants ahead of schedule. Still, it's a relatively unique effort in the tech world to accelerate the shift toward clean energy. Companies like Amazon, Apple, Google and others have generally focused on reducing their own emissions by either buying renewables or installing solar and wind power at their facilities — Atlassian's co-creator is trying to engineer change across an entire country.

Coinbase reportedly pauses hiring amid plummeting crypto market

In the wake of the cryptocurrency market crashing, Coinbase said this week it was joining a number of tech companies by slowing down its hiring plans for this year. More details have emerged about Coinbase's efforts to cut costs after The Information obtained emails that were sent to employees.

The company is said to have frozen hiring for two weeks (though it will honor offers that have already been sent) and put new projects on hold. It is also reportedly trying to reduce how much it spends on hosting services.

Along with not hiring as many people as it previously expected to this year, Coinbase is looking to minimize employee attrition. According to the report, the company is giving workers more shares. Coinbase's stock has dropped by over 75 percent in the last six months.

Coinbase is said to have paused some projects, such as a business banking initiative, while it focuses on increasing revenue from core products, including retail and institutional trading. It's reportedly planning to offer retail customers more cryptocurrencies and to expand operations outside of the US.

When asked for comment, a Coinbase spokesperson directed Engadget to a tweet thread from chief product officer Surojit Chatterjee. While the company is renewing focus on its "high-impact products" and trying to "improve efficiencies by seeking improvements in developer productivity," Chatterjee noted that Coinbase doesn't plan to stop investing in strategic and venture projects. "We believe the down market is a great time to build for the longer term," Chatterjee wrote.

The company revealed in its first-quarter earnings report last week that, at $1.16 billion, net revenue fell by 27 percent year-over-year and by over half from the previous quarter. Trading volume also dropped. Amid a hiring spree (it's said to have brought in more than 1,200 new employees this year), operating expenses increased by nine percent from the previous quarter to $1.7 billion. Coinbase had a net loss of $430 million in Q1. All of that was before the cryptocurrency market nosedived earlier this month.

Stablecoin TerraUSD (which is supposed to be pegged to the value of the US dollar) and sister token Luna effectively collapsed, causing a ripple effect to other cryptocurrency prices. Though it has since rebounded a bit, the price of bitcoin also dipped below $26,000 for the first time in 16 months last week amid a sell off that saw over $200 billion wiped from the crypto market in one day.

Coinbase's shift in hiring strategy reflects a broader trend among prominent tech companies. Meta and Uber are among the major businesses that are cutting costs and slowing down recruitment plans. Meanwhile, Netflix laid off around 150 staff in the US this week and canceled some animated projects. The company's stock plummeted after it reported its first-ever quarterly drop in subscriber numbers last month.

Volta's electric urban delivery trucks will come to the US in 2023

You might soon see more electric trucks ferrying cargo around town. Volta has revealed that it's bringing its urban delivery EVs to the US, starting with a test fleet of 100 Class 7 (16.5 US tons) Zero trucks coming to Los Angeles in mid-2023. American production should start in 2024, with an "experienced" manufacturer chosen late this year. This inaugural truck will be followed by lighter-duty Class 5 (9.8-ton) and Class 6 (13-ton) models in 2024 and 2025.

The Class 7 Volta Zero's range is short, with modular batteries offering between 95 to 125 miles of driving. That's more than enough for city deliveries, however. Volta is also betting that 250kW DC fast charging will ease any range anxiety. You completely recharge the Zero in slightly over an hour at the right station. Moreover, the company has taken advantage of the switch to electric motors to improve safety — a lower, center-mounted driver's seat should reduce the usual truck blind spots.

There's pressure for Volta to move quickly. Fellow Swedish company Volvo has already introduced multiple electric medium-duty trucks, and American rival Freightliner has the eM2. Still, these are typically conventional designs that just happen to be electric, rather than from-scratch EVs. Volta might reel customers in simply by making a more compelling case for ditching diesel- and gas-based fleets.

Recommended Reading: The rise and fall of Pebble

Success and failure at Pebble

Eric Migicovsky, Medium

The founder of Pebble, one of the hottest products ever to hit Kickstarter, reflects on why the startup failed during the 10-year anniversary of its crowdfunding launch. "We succeeded at inventing the smartwatch and an entirely new product category," he writes. "But in the end, we failed to create a sustainable, profitable business."

The Goodman experiment

Alan Siegel, The Ringer

Bob Odenkirk and the folks who created Saul Goodman offer an oral history on how the character eventually got his own show even though it wasn't intended to work out that way. "Not long after Saul made his debut midway through Season 2 of Breaking Bad, it became very apparent that he was more than just comic relief," Siegel explains.

Mark Zuckerberg's augmented reality

Alex Heath, The Verge

The Verge offers a detailed look at Meta's AR roadmap, including info on a number of different augmented reality glasses models the company is working on. 

Thermophotovoltaic cell converts 40 percent of heat energy to electricity

Researchers have revealed a new thermophotovoltaic (TPV) cell that converts heat to electricity with over 40 percent efficiency, performance nearly on par with traditional steam turbine power plants. The cells have the potential to be used in grid-scale "thermal batteries," generating energy dependably with no moving parts. 

Thermophotovoltaic cells work by heating semiconducting materials enough to significantly boost the energy of photons. At high enough energies, those photos can kick an electron across the material's "bandgap," generating electricity. So far, TPV cells have achieved up to just 32 percent efficiency because they operate at lower temperatures. 

By contrast, the new design from MIT and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) takes power from white-hot heat sources between 1,900 to 2,400 degree Celsius (3,452 to 4,352 degrees F). To do that, it uses "high-bandgap" metal alloys sitting over a slightly lower-bandgap alloy.  

The high-bandgap layer captures the highest-energy photons from a heat source and converts them to electricity, while lower-energy photons pass through the first layer and add to the voltage. Any photons that run the two-layer gauntlet are reflected by a mirror back to the heat source to avoid wasting energy.

This is an absolutely critical step on the path to proliferate renewable energy and get to a fully decarbonized grid.

Measuring the efficiency using a heat flux sensor, the team found that power varied with temperature. Between 1,900 to 2,400 degrees Celsius, the new TPV design produced electricity with about 40 percent efficiency.

Steam turbines can deliver the same efficiency, but are far more complicated and restricted to lower temperatures. "One of the advantages of solid-state energy converters are that they can operate at higher temperatures with lower maintenance costs because they have no moving parts," MIT Professor Asegun Henry told MIT News. "They just sit there and reliably generate electricity."

In a grid-scale thermal battery, the system would absorb excess energy from renewable sources like the sun and store it in heavily insulated banks of hot graphite. When needed, the TPV cells could then convert that heat to electricity and send it to the power grid. The experimental cell was just a square centimeter, so the team would have to ramp that up to around 10,000 square feet for grid-level power, but the technology already exists to create cells on that scale, Henry notes. 

"Thermophotovoltaic cells were the last key step toward demonstrating that thermal batteries are a viable concept," he said. "This is an absolutely critical step on the path to proliferate renewable energy and get to a fully decarbonized grid."

DuckDuckGo opens its privacy-centric Mac browser to beta testers

DuckDuckGo has revealed something it says its users have been requesting for years: a desktop browser. It will be available on Mac first, and a Windows version is coming in the near future. Until now, the only browser DuckDuckGo offered was on mobile.

As you might expect from a DuckDuckGo product, privacy is at the forefront. The browser uses DuckDuckGo's search engine by default, and the Smarter Encryption feature will make sure you use the encrypted HTTPS version of websites more often. There's a tracker blocker, email protection and the company's famed Fire Button, which closes all tabs and wipes your browser data with a single click.

In-app data such as your history, bookmarks and passwords are by default only stored on your system. You can import your bookmarks and passwords from some other browsers and password managers.


DuckDuckGo says the browser will do away with many of those annoying cookie consent popups as well. It can clear them for you on certain sites by automatically rejecting as much cookie tracking as possible. This feature will be available for around half of all websites at the outset. DuckDuckGo says that figure will grow during the beta period.

In the privacy feed, you'll be able to see which sites tried to track you. There's the option to clear stored data from certain websites and to return to recently viewed pages, albeit with some extra privacy protection. DuckDuckGo claims its Mac browser is fast, too. It uses the same built-in rendering engine as Safari and blocks trackers before they load.

The Mac browser is in an invite-only beta. To sign up for the waitlist, either download the DuckDuckGo mobile app or update it to the latest version. From the "More from DuckDuckGo" menu in settings, select DuckDuckGo for Desktop and tap "Join the Private Waitlist." You'll eventually receive a notification with an invite code and link to snag the browser on your Mac. The process is a little unusual, but, appropriately enough, you won't have to provide any personal details.

Puerto Rico is slowly recovering from an island-wide blackout

Puerto Rico is gradually recovering from an island-wide power outage that started on Wednesday evening. However, hundreds of thousands of people still lack electricity as the territory continues to struggle with its fragile power grid.

The outage was the result of a failed circuit breaker at Costa Sur power plant. According to The New York Times, the plant produces more electricity than any other facility on the island. Luma, a private Canadian-American entity that took over management of the power grid from a public utility last year, said there was "extensive damage" to the plant. An investigation is underway to determine the exact cause, though it appears there was a fire.

According to, a site that tracks power interruptions, more than 429,000 customers out of 1.47 million were without power as of 1:25PM Eastern time on Friday. As of Friday morning, Luma said it couldn't provide an estimate on how long it would take to fully restore power.

Critical facilities such as hospitals are up and running, though public school service was canceled on Friday. Around 182,000 or 10 percent of water and sewer customers didn't have water on Thursday.

When it started running the island's power transmission and distribution, Luma said it would make blackouts less frequent. However, according to reports, outages have persisted and lasted longer than when the public utility was managing the grid.

After Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico in 2017, there was a power outage across the island. Some folks had to wait for more than a year before electricity was restored, a situation that highlighted the precarious condition of the territory's power grid.