From crypto craze to crypto crash
New York just cracked open a door for electricity-sucking cryptocurrency miners to take advantage of some of its cheapest power supplies.
The New York State Public Service Commission on Thursday approved a new rate structure for one upstate utility that will allow miners interested in running their operations there to negotiate contracts. The contracts will be reviewed by Massena’s municipal utility individually and must protect the rest of the agency’s ratepayers from increased costs.
“We must ensure that business customers pay a fair price for the electricity that they consume,” Commission Chair John Rhodes said in a statement. “However, given the abundance of low-cost electricity in Upstate New York, there is an opportunity to serve the needs of existing customers and to encourage economic development in the region.”
Hydroelectric dams built decades ago have allowed municipal utilities in upstate New York to supply power to their customers for just pennies per kilowatt-hour. That’s attracted cryptocurrency miners, whose servers require large volumes of electricity to keep running, to the region. The influx has sparked concerns among small cities and towns that miners will soak up supplies of cheap hydro and raise power bills for everyone.
In March, Plattsburgh, a small lakeside city in upstate New York, became the first to impose a moratorium on the nascent and power-hungry currency mining operations for 18 months. But at about the same time, the state Public Service Commission cleared an association of 36 municipal power agencies, including Plattsburgh’s, to charge miners higher rates because of the huge volumes of electricity they use.