The Public Utilities Department (PUD) of the rural Washington county of Chelan has recently published a new rate structure for its electricity. The new pricing scheme appears to be specifically targeting crypto mining activities.
According to the news page for local radio station KPQ, Schedule 36 is changing the way it charges electricity users in a way that takes into account the growth of crypto mining operations, including those by Firefly Technologies and Silicon Orchard. The new structure basically involves passing the costs of the extra power that the grid needs to purchase upfront on to the miners, favouring the interests of local residents.
Chelan PUD's Customer Utilities Rate Adviser Lindsey Mohns said that "this new rate structure...brings into it a market consideration on the energy price because we will have to purchase power on the market to serve the variable load associated with cryptocurrency...upfront capital charges are intended to recover the accelerated cost of infrastructure investment in our system, mainly in our substations...the upfront charges take into account the capacity that’s used by cryptocurrency miners."
Kimberlee Craig, Chelan PUD’s Public Information Officer, claims that the new pricing model "captures the cost and protects the investment for the customers that are already here and invested greatly in our system."
As major crypto mining operations tend to favour more remote locations, their large energy consumption often creates conflict between business interests and those of local residents, and this is before the environmental impact is even considered. Although Firefly's Denton Meier does point to "jobs creation in programming, finance, and other things that will happen over time with the cryptocurrency market" as long-term benefits for the local community, we may well see more extreme action being taken to limit crypto mining in future.