EPHRATA – During their January 12 meeting, Grant PUD commissioners contemplated whether rates charged to bitcoin miners for high-power usage should revert to ‘core customer’ rates.
Bitcoin mining was once a booming endeavor in Grant County, but commissioners say only a few of them are operating these days and are no longer presenting a “concentration risk” for Grant PUD.
But could those discussions be pre-mature?
According to the PUD, bitcoin is beginning to regain its value after rocketing from $20,000 per coin to $40,000 per coin in recent weeks.
During 2017-2018, the bitcoin market was exploding and inquires for power connectivity for miners were coming into to Grant County PUD.
At the time, miners were charged high rates because they were considered a higher-risk “evolving industry.”
“Existing cryptocurrency firms are collectively using 1.4 average megawatts of electricity, far below the 5% — approximately 50 average megawatts — needed to meet the concentration threshold for Rate 17,” Louis Szablya, senior manager of Large Power Solutions, told commissioners.
If rates for bitcoin miners were to revert to a lower rate schedule, Grant PUD staff would monitor monthly energy use should they see a spike in power output.
Commission President Larry Schaapman and other commissioners questioned whether a core-customer, below-cost rate is the right rate schedule for a business type that hasn’t been core to Grant County history or development of the PUD.
“They’re no different than any other business unit. They want predictability,” Schaapman said. “I would rather do nothing for the moment and then do it right. My heart is with the core customers of this county. I want to make sure they are first and foremost protected.”
The conversation about what to charge cryptocurrency customers will continue Jan. 26 during the PUD’s regularly scheduled board meeting.