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PUD extends cryptocurrency power moratorium

Chelan County Public Utility commissioners, in Wenatchee, Wash., have continued a moratorium on electricity requests from cryptocurrency miners. In three years, crypto requests could more than double the PUD’s local power load.
Dan Wheat

Capital Press

Published on May 15, 2018 9:22AM

WENATCHEE, Wash. — A moratorium on electrical power applications for cryptocurrency miners has been extended to Aug. 6 by Chelan County Public Utility District commissioners.

After listening to miners asking for service and to customers worried about impacts on rates and power supplies for large amounts of power required by miners, commissioners said more time is needed to study and develop the PUD’s response to new load demand.

About 100 people attended the May 14 public hearing and more than two dozen spoke.

Commissioners imposed the moratorium on March 19. They will hold another public hearing on Aug. 6.

The PUD has learned that the definition for high-density power loads that it put in place last year is not adequate to address impacts of a rush of applications for power for cryptocurrency mining, said Steve Wright, PUD general manager.

Lindsey Mohns, PUD customer utilities business manager, outlined work so far to understand the impacts of cryptocurrency requests that could more than double the PUD’s retail electrical load.

There are areas where the PUD has transmission capacity to serve high-density loads and areas where it does not. Staff proposed creating a specific cryptocurrency power rate to address risks of miners’ mobility, bitcoin price swings and other issues. The PUD will continue discussing how to define such a rate class in June.

On April 16, PUD commissioners unanimously adopted fees of up to $6,150 for unauthorized electrical use in residential areas and $11,400 in commercial or light industrial areas after staff reported discovering an average of two to three small rogue crypto miners per day.

The PUD produces an average of 1,100 to 1,500 megawatts of power annually from Rocky Reach and Rock Island dams. Local load averages 200 megawatts.

Currently, 22 crypto miners use 9 megawatts of an approve 13.5 megawatts, PUD officials have said. There were another 19 crypto applications for 16.3 megawatts before the moratorium was imposed on March 19. Looking three years out, the PUD estimates 220 megawatts of crypto demand.


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