The electricity consumption of Bitcoin mining operations has always been a thorn in the side of many people. Various studies on this topic have been published over the years. In Chelan County, Washington, a major development is taking place. Rural electric utilities are taking an aggressive stance against various Bitcoin mining firms over their “disruption” of the local power grid.
CHELAN COUNTY TURNS ON BITCOIN MINING
Over the past two to three years, various Bitcoin mining firms have set up shop in Washington’s Chelan County. This part of the state has an abundance of renewable energy, and its power grid seems more than capable of supporting large energy draws. While this situation has worked out quite well for several years, local residents are getting fed up with these Bitcoin miners, by the look of things.
In fact, a crusade of sorts has been taking place in Chelan County. Rural electric utilities have conducted a hearing regarding the future of these local Bitcoin mining firms. This event took place two weeks ago but only made media headlines over the weekend. There was so much public interest in the hearing that a second room had to be opened so everyone could attend it live.
Chelan County has become increasingly appealing to Bitcoin mining firms due to its access to hydropower. This form of renewable energy allows mining firms to benefit from cheaper power in rather large quantities. As such, multiple companies have set up shop in the county, although a few problems have arisen.
One of the primary issues is that there are a lot of farms and other areas previously used for other purposes which have been transformed into Bitcoin mining operations. While this is a positive trend for the cryptocurrency industry, no success goes by unpunished. All three public utilities in Chelan County are determining how best to deal with all of these mining firms. One possible outcome is that they could choose not to increase their energy offerings to these companies, which would hinder the companies’ growth plans.
While the demand for electric power in Chelan County tends to grow each year, the latest increase has been well beyond expectations. Since January of 2017, there has been a demand for 210 megawatts just to power Bitcoin mining operations. This is virtually the same amount as the entire county and its 73,000 residents are using right now. Doubling the electric power output of the region is no easy feat, and it seems the utility providers are looking for ways to avoid having to do so.
Moreover, there is the problem of how large energy purchases work exactly. Some miners think they can simply talk to an official in order to purchase electricity for their Bitcoin mining operation. That is not how things work in the real world. Furthermore, there are the unusual spikes in power usage which utility crews have to deal with. Bitcoin mining is a booming business in Washington, but it is also causing a lot of problems for the companies delivering the required electricity to miners.