Washington Power Utility to Hike Prices for Crypto Miners

The “evolving-industry firms”, including crypto mining farms, in Grant County will have to pay higher prices for their electricity-hungry operations.

The enthusiasm for crypto mining in some US states with cheap electricity continues to wane, with another Washington state electricity utility deciding to take measures against the rising industry.

Capital Press, a Washington state weekly, reports that the Grant County Public Utility District (PUD) in the central parts of the state, decided to hike the prices for the cryptocurrency mining operations and “evolving-industry firms” that fall within its service area.  The decision has been taken by a unanimous vote, that was preceded by a year-long study on the eventual impact the crypto mining industry might have on the Grant county power grid and prices.

The adoption of the new Rate 17 last week by the Grant County PUD commissioners means that large consumers such as crypto mining companies will face a three-year price hike, depending on their consumption.

Fortress Blockchain Corp, which has a crypto mining facility in Grant County, issued a statement claiming that from April 1, 2019, the company will have to pay 30.7% more for electricity, plus it will have to cover up-front costs for lines, poles, transformers and other electrical equipment needed to expand or connect the power supply. On April 1, 2020 and on April 1, 2021, the company will face two more electricity power hikes. Hence, Fortress Blockchain said, it will have to pass on the hike through the electricity fees it charges its clients.

The commissioners decided that the increase will protect the PUD from risk and reserve below-cost rates for the utility’s core customers – residents, small businesses and farm irrigators.

“Your industry is unregulated and high-risk. This is the best way to ensure our ratepayers are not impacted,” Commissioner Tom Flint told a handful of cryptocurrency miners who attended the meeting, as quoted by Capital Press.

According to the news outlet, since last summer Grant PUD has received inquiries for more than 2000 megawatts, mainly (75%) from cryptocurrency companies who want to build facilities in the area. This, as per the report, is three times more than the electricity needed to power all of the homes, farms, businesses and industry in Grant County. Also, applications from local users from “traditional” industries will be considered with priority and they will be connected to the power grid before the “evolving industry”.

Grant County is moving a bit faster than the utility in neighboring Chelan County, which has recently extended the moratorium on applications from new crypto miners and is still considering a price hike.