WENATCHEE — Chelan County cryptocurrency miners came back for another round of public comment Monday before the PUD, hoping not to lose the cheap electricity rates that brought them here.
PUD commissioners took no action, instead scheduling a further hearing Sept. 17, and keeping in place a moratorium on servicing new crypto operations that’s been on the books since March. Meanwhile, people already crypto mining in the county lined up to be heard.
“If we were to adopt the proposed rates here in the county — I think it's 7 to 10 cents for my miners and my household — then I would be forced out of business,” said Becky Peters, who mines cryptocurrency in her Wenatchee home. “I’m coming out to these meetings each week wondering if I’m going to be able to keep the lights on for another day, because these rates would put me right out of business.”
Crypto users “mine” value by using specialized software to solve algorithmic puzzles and unlock more currency, like Bitcoin and Ethereum. It takes a lot of computing power, so cheap electricity like that provided by Washington PUDs is in high demand.
The PUD’s new proposed rates would charge 7 to 10 cents per kilowatt hour for mining inside a residence, much higher than average households pay. Nick Martini said that change would cost him more than he paid for similar power services in California.
If put in place, he said, “I’ve made the move and taken this risk to end up actually paying more than I would with a for-profit utility in one of the most expensive markets in the country. So I'm hoping to avoid that scenario."
PUD Manager Steve Wright said that estimate is exaggerated, but the board and PUD staff members agreed they need more time to look at the needs of residential crypto operators. Other PUD customers who aren’t involved in crypto still worry about the risk.
“What is cryptocurrency really benefiting our community?” Jeanne Poirier of Cashmere asked. "It’s not like Alcoa, providing a lot of jobs, a lot of solar powers, a lot of projects back to the community. It’s individuals trying to make money.”
Jefferson Robbins: 679-7013