Wow, how about this story out of Chelan County, Washington!
The Seattle Times is reporting that Chelan County and its neighbors have become ground-zero for cryptocurrency mining since 2012 because of the low rates afforded by the region’s hydropower resources.
Unfortunately, some of these “mining” efforts are taking place in the garages, basements, and bedrooms of residential neighborhoods, stressing the electrical grid. In one case, a home mining operation overloaded a transformer causing it to overheat and start a small grass fire nearby.
“[It’s] a very different kind of problem than anything we have addressed before.”
— Steven Wright, GM of Chelan County Public Utility District
Typically, the county and its 73,000 residents account for roughly 210 megawatts of power in a given year with a growth rate of roughly 4,500 megawatts per year.
But miners are requesting an additional 210 megawatts in order to conduct the trillions of computer calculations needed to process cryptocurrency.
As a point of reference, the story points out that a typical fruit warehouse uses about 2.5 megawatts in a six month period. During the same timeframe, cryptocurrency miners have requested approximately 50 megawatts.
Energy authorities have asked for a 3-month moratorium on new mining operations for the purpose of researching how to better-respond to increasing demands.
Ultimately, it could mean higher rates for area consumers. The more electricity is sold to local, large mining outfits, the less the utility is able to export. Those exports are the factor that keep residential rates low for subscribers. In order to meet the demand, the utility may be forced into investing in more infrastructure, such as substations and power lines. Those actions will have a significant effect on utility rates, too.