Chelan County Halts Crypto Mining Applications

The Chelan County Public Utility District (PUD) has stopped processing applications for electric service for cryptocurrency mining.

At their regular commissioners meeting, PUD board members voted unanimously to imposed a moratorium on applications after reviewing the impacts on existing loads and applications for service. With some of the lowest electricity costs in the US, Chelan County has become a bit of a magnet for bitcoin miners.

There are 19 pending applications from crypto miners for up to 5 megawatts each, a potential total load of about 16.3 average megawatts. The PUD has approved 22 and active high density loads in the county, totaling about 13.5 megawatts. The PUD said the moratorium will allow them to learn from their existing under-five megawatt rates and policies and develop rates and policies for loads above that.

Lyle Moore, Customer Service engineering supervisor, said PUD staff members are finding rogue cryptocurrency operations requiring time and effort to investigate and respond. Many are in homes without the grid equipment needed to serve heavy load, threatening the safety of neighbors and PUD workers.

General Manager Steve Wright said impacts from cryptocurrency mining applications are hampering responses to the district’s overall planned work, and threatens the county’s electric grid capacity to meet planned growth. Public health and safety concerns due to rogue operators led to the cities of Chelan and Wenatchee acting to curb operations, especially in residential neighborhoods.

The PUD set a public hearing on the moratorium on May 14. Before the moratorium can be lifted, the PUD will review and update the existing schedule 35 rate including considering adding transmission costs and continue to develop rates, fees and processes for service requests of 5 megawatts or more

The news comes days after Plattsburgh, a tiny municipality in the US state of New York next to Niagara Falls, halted cryptocurrency mining operations in its territory. The ban will extend for 18 months, making it the first US city to stop mining facilities.

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