Washington Utility Raises Electricity Rates for Bitcoin Mining Companies
Bitcoin mining, or the use of specialized computers that record and verify bitcoin transactions, is notoriously energy inefficient, using up to an estimated 20,000 gigawatt hours of electricity per year. That’s roughly .1% of global generation. So, when bitcoin mining companies realized that a few Washington state counties had extremely low electricity rates, mining companies moved in. But now, utilities in Chelan and Chelan counties are raising rates for these companies.
According to The Herald, Grant County Public Utility District commissioners adopted a new rate in early September for so-called mining operations. Commissioner Tom Flint told some miners that their industry is risky and unregulated, and he wanted to make sure other ratepayers were protected.
In Chelan County, the proposed cryptocurrency rates work out to around 8.5 cents per kilowatt hour for home-based miners and slightly over 6 cents per kilowatt hour for commercial and industrial operations, according to KUOW. Those new electric rates are about double the regular residential and commercial rates and would take effect April 1, 2019.
In Grant County, Washington, the so-called “evolving industry” rate will roughly triple current electric bills. Grant PUD commissioners voted unanimously late last month to phase in the new rates beginning April 1, 2019.
Addressing Other Concerns
In August, the US Committee on Energy and Natural Resources has planned a hearing on the topic of energy efficiency in blockchain in an effort to better understand how such technology might impact electricity prices, according to coindesk.com. The hearing took place Aug. 21.