Bitcoin mining first became a mainstream thing when word about Bitcoin itself hit the mainstream. It was a slow but steady way of making bitcoins on your own, and has been taken up as serious endeavors by would-be cryptocurrency entrepreneurs. And between all of them, they mine all kinds of other cryptocurrencies apart from Bitcoin.
But while mining cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin may be good for those who want to make money from them, they can cause several problems by generating lots of excess heat and eventual pollution, and worse, overusing electricity. This is a problem that has started to affect many states in the U.S. over the past 12 months, and now the first case of a city outright banning Bitcoin mining has finally happened.
Based on online reports, the city council in Plattsburgh, New York, became the first to unanimously vote on an imposed 18-month moratorium on Bitcoin mining throughout the city. This means that all new Bitcoin mining operations may no longer exist. However, it is said that existing operations will be unaffected by the move.
According to Plattsburgh Mayor Colin Read in a statement, local residents in the city started reporting “wildly inflated” electricity bills in the beginning of the year, and that it had been caused by none other than Bitcoin mining operations. “I’ve been hearing a lot of complaints that electric bills have gone up by $100 or $200,” he said. “You can understand why people are upset.”
It is said that the city of Plattsburgh, New York offers the “cheapest electricity in the world,” and Read has attested to that. Indeed, the city manages to offer low rates for electricity due to its use of a hydroelectric dam on the St. Lawrence river, and this allows its residents to use electricity at a rate of only 4.5 cents per kilowatt-hour. As a point of reference, the average U.S. city charges a hair over 10 cents per kilowatt-hour.
Bitcoin mining wouldn’t be outlawed as it has been in the city if it weren’t truly disruptive to the citizens as well as the city itself. Part of what caused the problem to happen in the first place is the fact that industrial enterprise pay even less money for their electricity – which costs just two cents per kilowatt hour. Technically, Bitcoin miners fall under this category, so they enjoy the benefits. But the city itself suffers. (Related: Bitcoin mining now consuming more electricity than 159 countries including Ireland and most of the countries in Africa.)
It is said that Plattsburgh is only allotted a total of 104 megawatts per month. Meanwhile, the largest Bitcoin mining operation in the city, which is operated by a Puerto Rican company called Coinmint, was going through about 10 percent of this total power allotment in just the first two months of the year alone. As a result, there were months when Plattsburgh went over the power budget, and needed to purchase electricity from outside sellers, with the caveat that they cost much more.
This additional cost was then distributed to the citizens of the city, which is what prompted them to start complaining in the first place because they needed to pay more on those months.
As a corrective measure, the city’s official have pledged to use the next 18 months to work closely with its citizens and the local Bitcoin miners in order to figure out a workable solution for everyone that can be used to fix this city-wide energy problem. According to Tim Pillsworth, a Plattsburgh local that’s also a partner at the second largest Bitcoin mining company in the city, the miners themselves could foot the bill.
“It would never cost the Plattsburgh citizens any more money to let more miners come in here because the miners are willing to pay for those overages when it’s super cold,” he said. “The miners are more than willing to pay.”
If that’s the case, then it looks like the city officials, the locals, and the Bitcoin miners all have their work cut out for them.
Read more about other problems with Bitcoin at BitcoinCollapse.news.