Cryptocurrency mining has become an issue of ongoing discussion in the Finger Lakes.
On Monday night, the Schuyler County Legislature reviewed a resolution asking the DEC to develop regulations around cryptocurrency mining. But, they chose to table the vote until next month’s meeting
Legislators said they felt like they needed more time to research cryptocurrency mining.
Schuyler County Legislator, Mark Rondinaro, chairs the committee that brought forward the resolution. He sees big implications in the resolution.
He said, “My belief is that the truly effective opportunity here is statewide for people -- to look at this and ask, is this the best use of our limited resources?”
Cryptocurrency mining is an energy intensive process that involves running computer programs around the clock. One of the points made in Schuyler County’s resolution is to require all cryptocurrency mining to happen with renewable energy.
In neighboring Yates County, Greenidge Generation LLC operates a natural gas power plant that doubles as a Cryptocurrency mining facility. It dedicates almost 20 MW/h of electricity to mining bitcoin. That’s enough energy to power over 16,000 homes.
Greenidge was originally meant to operate as a peaker plant, meeting energy needs when demand was high. It’s able to generate electricity for it’s bitcoin mining operation, but it never reaches the grid. It’s called behind the meter energy, and so the New York Public Service Commission says it isn’t subject to their regulations.
The Schuyler County resolution isn’t meant to target any cryptocurrency mining facility in particular. Rondinaro said he wants to see the state develop regulations to help local governments make decisions about letting mining in, like in Watkins Glen, where power is cheap.
Rodniaro said, “There have been inquiries from other crypto-mining operations wishing to set up within the limits of the Village of Watkins Glen because of it’s cheap power. None have come to fruition, but there have definitely been inquiries.”
The whole Village of Watkins Glen runs on about 10MW/h of electricity at peak demand. If a big cryptocurrency operation did move in, Watkins Glen could make a special rate for them, like they do with Wal-Mart and Cargill.
New York state allocates the village about 6MW/h of cheap hydro-electric energy. Wal-Mart doesn’t get the same access to this energy as other users due to some municipal regulations. These rules, and that allocation is what keeps prices down for the village.
But if those allocations were shifted, the cost of doing business in Watkins Glen would jump up. Then, Rodinaro said, “Some of them might no longer be viable. And those are operations, which employed large numbers of people.”