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Bitcoin Miners in Washington State Face Higher Power Tarrifs

Last Updated March 4, 2021 4:50 PM
Samburaj Das
Last Updated March 4, 2021 4:50 PM

Bitcoin miners in Chelan County, Washington, will have to pay more for electricity due to the approval of a new electric rate for customers with energy intends loads.

Public Utility District (PUD) commissioners in Chelan County, Washington have approved a new electricity tariff for customers with an appetite for high energy.

The new “high-density load (HDL)” rate applies for customers whose operations scale or exceed 250-kilowatt hours of power per square foot, per year, while not exceeding 5 megawatts of power at any given time.

Furthermore, HDL customers are required to pay all the capital costs that the PUD incurs for high-capacity infrastructure that delivers power to the customer’s location, upfront.

The county’s PUD made the announcement this week, specifically stating that the rate applies to energy-intensive operations such as “power farms and similar technology operations including bitcoin mining.”

The rates were approved following an 18-month public discussion between PUD commissioners and the public, including bitcoin mining business owners.

Bitcoin Miners Absent During Voting

PUD started to notice a sharp surge in inquiries for power consumption after cryptocurrency miners targeted the region due to its cheap electricity.

This led to discussion for a new rate in December 2014, with a moratorium approved by PUD commissioners to study the increasing demand for power by miners.

The new rate will see a basic monthly charge that ranges between $130 to $860 per meter, depending on the energy demand. An additional monthly demand charge of $5.50 per kilowatt as well as an energy charge of 2.70 cents per kilowatt hour also applies. The rate will come into effect on January 1, 2017.

While bitcoin business owners participated in the public discussion, it is notable that none of them were present for the unanimous vote approving the new rates and service conditions, according a report by GovTech .

The public discussion saw an initial PUD proposal that sought to charge bitcoin miners 4.5 cents per kilowatt hour, compared to the now-approved rate of 2.70. Bitcoin mining companies’ representatives reportedly stated during the course of the public discussion that the rate of 4.5 cents per kilowatt hour would put them out of business, over time.

The publication also revealed that customers who had already invested at least $500,000 in high-intensity businesses that were operational before December 15, 2014, will see their new financial burden take place gradually. These businesses will transition to the HDL rate over the next five years.

The Impact of Increased Tariffs?

Chelan County is located in north-central Washington and could plausibly be the location for a new hydro-powered 2 PetaHash capacity bitcoin mining operation planned by John McAfee-led MGT Capital Investments. The company revealed that it had secured an undisclosed location in central Washington earlier this month. It further confirmed that its bitcoin mining operation will be completely operational by August 1, 2016.

It is yet unknown if the new HDL rate will impact the upcoming cryptocurrency mining operation in Washington.

A representative for MGT Capital Investments could not be reached immediately for comment at the time of publication.

Featured image from Shutterstock.