Washington State County Moves to Limit New Bitcoin Mining Firms

In a unanimous vote, Chelan County's Public Utility District commissioners agreed to put a moratorium on new bitcoin mining applications.

AccessTimeIconMar 21, 2018 at 9:00 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 13, 2021 at 7:43 a.m. UTC

The public utility from a county in Washington state long known as a destination for power-hungry bitcoin miners has said it will stop reviewing applications for new operations.

Members of the Chelan County Public Utility District (PUD)'s board of commissioners voted unanimously to stop reviewing applications for mining facilities and similar data research projects on Monday, following a review of the current impact by existing operations. Chelan County has some of the lowest electric costs in the nation thanks to its hydropower resources, making it attractive to cryptocurrency mining companies, as previously reported.

The current load from the operations already set up are beginning to impact the county’s overall electric grid capacity, said General Manager Steve Wright, according to the release. This is resulting in public health and safety concerns, as well as possible threats to the district’s planned growth.

"Rogue cryptocurrency operations" are also taking power which the county could be using elsewhere, according to the release.

Commissioner Randy Smith said in a statement:

"We do need time to take a deep breath and work through the issues and this may be the best approach."

There will be a public hearing on the moratorium on May 14. Before the moratorium can be lifted, PUD staff members will review the cost carried by mining operations, the consequences for unauthorized firms, and establish how best to serve the unique demands of the industry.

The moratorium comes days after the city of Plattsburgh in upstate New York implemented a similar measure. Plattsburgh officials also cited the power demands commercial mining operations produce, noting that it had caused residents’ electricity bills to spike.

Unlike Chelan County, Plattsburgh’s moratorium will lift in 18 months or sooner, provided that officials can establish guidelines and standards for commercial mining operations before then.

Hydroelectric dam image via Shutterstock


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