Bitcoin Prices Spark Demand for Washington's Cheap Electricity
The Central Washington region of the U.S. has reported surging demand from bitcoin miners for its cheap hydropower as price gains continue.
The Central Washington region of the U.S. is reporting surging demand from bitcoin miners for its cheap hydroelectric power.
With the cryptocurrency's recent price gains, bitcoin mining has become more attractive, according to John Stoll, managing director of customer utilities at Chelan Public Utility District (PUD).
Stoll told the PUD board of commissioners earlier this week that his department had received more than 20 "serious" calls in the last two weeks. "Our challenge is capacity," he said at the time.
OPB News said power utility firms in Washington state and neighboring mid-Columbia are now concerned that the growth in electricity demand could ultimately pose a risk to their systems or bring added costs to general consumers.
Ryan Holterhoff, public affairs officer for Grant County PUD, said that the utility has outstanding requests for approximately 500 megawatts, saying it was "about an 85 percent increase over our current average load."
While the PUD is accepting inquiries, delays are likely, he added.
Just one month ago, bitcoin was trading for around $7,500. The cryptocurrency hit a new all-time high last night, passing $17,000, according to CoinDesk's Bitcoin Price Index.
In early 2016, bitcoin miners in the Washington region were involved in a months-long dispute over power costs with the Chelan PUD. Later, in July the same year, the utility announced that electrical rates would rise for so-called "high-density load customers."
Power lines image via Shutterstock
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