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U.S. Senator Warns Closing Montana Coal Plant Will Hurt Bitcoin Mining Industry

Last Updated March 4, 2021 3:34 PM
Mark Emem
Last Updated March 4, 2021 3:34 PM

The junior United States Senator from Montana, Steve Daines, has warned that the planned closure of a coal power generator could harm the booming bitcoin mining business in the state. According to KULR-TV, all the four units of the Colstrip coal plant located in Rosebud County are expected to shut down by 2027.

In Senator Daines’ view, reliable low-cost energy is necessary for Montana to retain and continue attracting new bitcoin mining companies.

“As the demand for Bitcoin miners increases and supply of cheap, reliable electricity from coal generation decreases, this could pose a threat of the expansion of Bitcoin generation and even greater threat to energy supply and prices for Montana as a whole,” said Senator Daines during a U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee meeting.

Low Operating Costs

coal bitcoin mining
Source: Shutterstock

Besides the low energy costs, the naturally-cold temperatures have also served to make the state of Montana a favorite with bitcoin mining firms, as such an environment reduces cooling expenses. Notably, some of the biggest bitcoin mining facilities in North America are located in Western Montana. This includes CryptoWatt LLC, which operates a facility located in Butte and has an agreement with the Colstrip coal plant for the supply of 64MW ,making it one of the biggest users of electricity in the state.

There is also the Bonner Bitcoin data center, which until recently was one of the largest in the world, as CCN.com reported two months ago. Last year, according to the Missoula Economic Partnership, an initiative aimed at promoting business activities in the Western Montana city of Missoula, the Bonner facility was expected to expand from the then 12,000 mining rigs to 55,000.

Project Spokane

Montana’s pro-cryptocurrency bona fides are also proven by the fact that its state government is the first in the U.S. to offer a grant to a bitcoin mining operation. Last year in June, the governor of Montana, Steve Bullock, announced that out of the $1,124,030 that had been allocated as economic development grants to assist main street businesses in creating jobs, training employees, and planning for growth, $416,000 would go to a bitcoin miner named Project Spokane.

“Missoula County received $416,000 of BSTF Job Creation funds to assist Project Spokane, LLC to expand, which will allow the company to create 65 new jobs in Bonner,” said a press release  from Bullock’s office. “The BSTF funds will be used for purchase of equipment, machinery, furniture and software and for wage reimbursement. Project Spokane, LLC is a data center that provides blockchain security services for the bitcoin network.”

Featured Image from U.S. Department of Agriculture/Flickr