A utility in Washington State – a popular location for bitcoin miners – has cut off electricity to three “unauthorized” sites that officials said posed a risk to public safety.
The Chelan County Public Utility District (PUD) said Monday the three mines – located separately in Wenatchee, Malaga and Chelan – were “using enough power to create fire risks for neighbors and damage grid equipment not sized for the load.” For that reason, utility officials disconnected the power at those sites.
“Not only are we concerned, we’re incensed that individuals are putting people at risk,” PUD Commissioner Steve McKenna said in a statement issued April 2. “We’re not going to tolerate it. This is a strong message, and I want to make that very clear.”
The PUD said that in the future, rogue operators could face potential legal repercussions for power theft and public safety endangerment. However, PUD commissioner Garry Arseneault clarified that any heightened restrictions would focus on unknown mining operations, and not miners that are approved and followed the rules.
Arseneault was quoted as saying:
“What we’re discussing is a person who is purposely trying to slip around the end and use power in a way that a facility was not designed for and doing so in a manner where there’s been no request for service. … I see yet, once again, a reason to support the installation of automated meters to be able to confront these scoundrels before they do burn an apartment building down and perhaps kill a family or children in the process.”
Chelan County – a region known for its abundant hydropower – is an attractive site for industrial-scale miners, who tap the region’s comparatively cheap power to maximize profits.
Yet the PUD imposed a moratorium on new bitcoin mines last month, citing safety concerns, as previously reported.
Other local governments in the area are reportedly making similar moves.
Wenatchee, for example, recently passed new cryptocurrency mining ordinances. According to Koho 101, the city joined Chelan City, Leavenworth and East Wenatchee in restricting bitcoin mining operations.
Bitcoin mining image via Shutterstock