Grant County in Washington State Puts Price Flex on Crypto Miners
The Grant County Public Utility District (PUD) has decided to increase the energy costs associated with crypto mining operations in the area. In recent months, the county has attracted a large number of cryptocurrency miners due to the area’s previously low electricity prices and equally low industrial land costs.
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Welcome to Grant County
When you think of Washington state, you probably think of its most populated city Seattle, or the tech cities of Redmond and Bellevue that are home to industry heavyweights like Microsoft and Nintendo.
A half-day’s trip away from all that hubbub toward the center of the state will bring you to the largely isolated Grant County, home to Moses Lake, a hydroelectric powerplant, and other remote natural attractions.
In the eyes of PUD’s leaders, this isolated locale is ready to flex against bitcoin miners, who have flocked to the county as of late in search of cheap electricity costs. Now, those costs are set to go up, and bitcoin miners are the intended recipients.
While many cities charge between $0.10 and $0.139 per kilowatt hour, in some cases electricity in Grant County goes for just $0.026. Not anymore for the miners.
The PUD Strikes Back
PUD commissioners have devised a plan in which, over the course of the coming three years, the costs of electricity for crypto miners will only increase until they are in line with more expensive parts of the state. Other non-mining customers in the area will be unaffected.
Simply put, the commissioners are taking away what makes the area attractive to miners by jacking up prices in a bid to encourage them to leave.
But why is the county so concerned with fighting bitcoin miners? According to PUD, these mining operations are not only consuming disproportionate amounts of energy, but they are also causing a number of unintended problems. Specifically, the increased demand for energy in the area is forcing the county to make expensive upgrades for their substations.
If the officials felt confident the miners were there to stay, the problem might end there. However, with bitcoin prices constantly in a state of flux, the county fears investing in upgrades might prove pointless if the miners start packing up and leaving in a bust. That dynamic would, of course, leave the county to foot the bill to pay for equipment and upgrades that would become effectively useless.
Another point of contention with the mines is that they don’t provide many jobs for local citizens. Bitcoin mines, once in full operation, simply require periodic maintenance and perhaps physical site security. As such, their staffing needs are incredibly low. The argument here is that the benefit to the local economy is marginal at best.
A First Salvo
The reason why this particular flex is so pivotal is because it appears to be the first of its kind, even if on the county level.
On the state level, Washington has been attracting bitcoin mines for several years now and has so far made no actions against any of them. Washington does impose a form of licensing requirement on certain types of cryptocurrency businesses. However, the state does not require licensing for mining operations of any kind.
As for Grant County, it’s entirely likely that the pricing changes do make some or many mining operations decide to leave before they fully come into effect. If that ends up the case, the Grant County electrical grid can finally breathe a sigh of relief — but miners will be taking their digital shovels elsewhere.
What’s your take? Do you expect more counties to take this approach or buck it? Let us know in the comments below.
Images via Pixabay