As the cryptocurrency craze grows, the desire to harvest rewards by mining new coins is getting stronger. Unfortunately, the power consumption of bitcoin mining has taken a toll on local energy supplies, leading some to question whether there should be laws prohibiting it. The town of Plattsburgh, New York, may be one of the first to ban mining activities altogether.
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Cheap Energy = Cheap Crypto Mining
Throughout the U.S., cities like East Wenatchee near Seattle, Washington have attracted bitcoin and cryptocurrency miners from around the world thanks to its low-priced electricity. In addition, countries like Canada are having difficulty keeping up with residents’ newfound mining demands, and Iceland now admits that it spends more energy mining bitcoin than it does powering all its homes.
But not everyone sees mining as the perfect venture. In upstate New York, the small town of Plattsburgh says it’s considering an “18-month moratorium” on commercial operations that mine cryptocurrency. Mayor Colin Read said mining activity has simply led to far too much energy consumption, and officials need a short-term ban in place to consider implementing necessary regulations and zoning laws for mining projects.
Read says that bitcoin mining currently accounts for nearly ten percent of the town’s official power usage. In addition, he said the town has had no choice but to purchase extra power – usually at extremely high prices – to satisfy the growing needs of miners.
Areas Other Than New York Have Already Taken Steps
Not everyone is pleased with the idea. David Bowman, a cryptocurrency miner who’s resided in Plattsburgh for some time, says that mining is “basically in the early stages of development like the Internet was,” and that in his view, “an outright moratorium would hurt the city more in the long run because it would miss out.”
Some countries have ultimately taken steps to limit, rather than outright ban miners from their borders. China, for example, recently sought to lessen mining practices by reducing available electricity to mining companies — companies that are now looking to expand into North America.
Last February, the city council of Chelan, Washington placed a six-month stoppage on mining operations in residential areas, citing “safety and power concerns” as the primary reasons. The town had been attracting miners since 2013 thanks to its cheap and efficient electricity sources.
The Drainage of Energy Continues
Cryptocurrency analyst Alex de Vries said bitcoin miners will typically use 54 terawatts of energy per year. That’s a lot of energy considering small countries like Israel use up to 56 terawatts annually.
Mass energy consumption like this, he explained, can increase costs for local businesses and cause problems for the economies of small or residential towns.
Should mining be allowed to continue in New York and elsewhere, or do rules need to be set in place?
Images via Pixabay, Sperling’s Best Places