Washington Utility Ousts Illegal Cryptocurrency Mining Operations
Mining for cryptocurrency has always been a high energy investment. The amount of power needed to mine one bitcoin is currently astronomical, with some sources reporting almost 60 terawatt-hours required this year worldwide. To give scale to this number, Colombia will use the same amount of power to run the entire country. Because of the high amount of energy required, miners in the US have found haven in places with favorable utility laws concerning energy used, like Washington state.
Announced this week, however, The Chelan County Public Utility District (PUD), in Washington is cracking down on unauthorized mines found across the county. In a press release, Monday the commissioner’s board stated that they “will take all necessary steps to enforce the moratorium on unauthorized cryptocurrency operations including imposing available fees and penalties and considering new ones, disconnecting service and reporting unauthorized loads to law enforcement as power theft and to fire officials to protect public safety”.
These statements come after these illegal mining sites were found and seen to create fire risk for neighbors, using grid equipment not sized for the load put upon them by the mining. Commissioner Garry Arseneault importantly pointed out however that they are not targeting all crypto miners, saying “I want to take one step back and say that users of power that have legitimate requests, and have been properly sized for the use of that power, that’s not the kind of entity we’re discussing today”.
Chelan County is known for its abundant hydropower. Because of this, it is a popular destination for large-scale miners, who seek out the relatively cheap power of the region to maximize the profits of work done. As people flock to the area to take advantage, however, there has been a response in trying to regulate these industrial-scale mining operations.
The Commission did hear from other miners, considering what they said. Nick Martini, a potential cryptocurrency operator, asked the board for “flexibility in allowing some applications to move forward when operators seek to meet all requirements and work with the PUD in developing the industry”.
Crypto mining, moving forward, seems to be a problem worth talking about. Some companies are focusing on the energy problem, and dialogues like this case in Washington are probably necessary and important, as more miners set up and cryptos become more widely adopted. There are also coins like Burst, which use an algorithm to mine based on free disk space to determine proof-of-work, consuming almost no energy to make transactions and mine the next coin.