The United States Pacific Northwest region is known for many things. Oregon for its ghost towns and hazelnuts. Washington for its apples and Seattle’s many treasures. Idaho for its potatoes and its strange 50 lb candy box law. The one thing all of these states have in common?
The Columbia River Basin.
What makes the Columbia River Basin so special besides its unique ecosystem, geography, and climate, is its cheap power. Washington state has the lowest electricity rate per kilowatt in the United States at $9.74 per kWh for residential areas. Similar low electricity prices are shared with Idaho and Oregon.
With these low electricity prices abundant throughout the Pacific Northwest, it has made the area a hub for crypto mining schemes. One of the largest mining schemes in the world, Gigawatt founded in 2012, is based out of Wenatchee Washington. These large scale crypto mining operations are taking small farming towns of 10,000 to 40,000 people and turning them into crypto mining mecas. What could go wrong?
Turns out a lot can go wrong. The largest problem these smaller towns are facing is the power shortages caused by mining. As you may know, crypto mining requires an extensive amount of power due to the high functioning cooling systems that are required for operation. These small town power grids are not designed for such power consuming operations and have caused many residents inconveniences due to a lack of power available.
One of the towns that has been most largely affected is the small town of Ephrata Washington. Ephrata has been home to over four different mining operations in the past few years, each and everyone of them being reported as a pesky annoyance. These four operations are reportedly being relocated at this time because of the one year ban that has been placed in Ephrata.
Ephrata is not the first town to receive a one year crypto mining ban. Multiple other towns in Grant County WA have had bans placed upon them, and many other towns and counties in the Columbia Basin area are looking to do the same.
According to an article released by the Spokesman-Review, it is unknown if the crypto operations will be allowed to return. Matt Moore, a Grant county commissioner, says that the return of the miners will be dependent on the overall economic impact they have on the town. Beginning in April 2019, crypto mining companies in Washington will be charged a higher electricity rate due to their high consumption.
Another reason the general populous seems to be against the miners is not only do they steal all the power, but they don’t supply many jobs if any.
The local PUD will begin their investigation into the power shortage problems caused by crypto miners shortly. No matter what they decide on with the crypto mining laws in Ephrata, it is clear that Washington will continue to be one of the largest mining mecas in the world. Even when they do raises electricity prices for miners, the price per kWh will barely be equal to the national average.