Plattsburgh, a little town in New York, had a wonderful and tranquil life until last December. Cryptocurrency prices skyrocketed, and mining became extremely profitable. Then, the miners arrived, and the town changed completely. Miners took the town by storm due to the cheap electricity available, leaving townspeople biding for expensive power to make up the difference. Now Plattsburgh is fighting back.
Bitcoin Miners Inbound
The invasion was a swift and quiet one. The people did not even know about it until it was too late. Miners came to the town and registered mining startups. Cryptocurrency mining is an energy-intensive process, and much of their profitability depends on the price of the power used.
But when too many mining startups settled, things started going south: in addition to hogging energy consumption, they require little to no need for workers after being set up. Townspeople were miffed about a new business or industry not offering enough employment to offset costs.
Plattsburgh relies on hydroelectricity generated by a dam. That proved insufficient to support both the town and mining operations, forcing the town to outsource, importing electricity to make up the difference. The arrangement came at a premium, as citizens angered over bills with 50% higher prices. Suddenly the town had lost its charm, and miners were main culprits.
Plattsburgh, a town with a population of fewer than 20K inhabitants, is located in Clinton County, New York. Citizens were accustomed to cheap electricity due to the power being provided by one of the most economical sources available, a dam.
Minus infrastructure, hydro electric power can be extremely inexpensive for consumers. Plattsburgh in its boom period was a factory town, aluminum smelting among the industries, and so a dam was constructed to meet industry needs.
What locals never imagined was cheap energy would cause an invasion changing the way they live. An invasion not of aliens or enemy country, but of Bitcoin miners, who came to take advantage of abundant power.
Upset, a quick proposal arrived: prevent new and more cryptocurrency mining startups from establishing operations in the town. The moratorium passed without objection.
Plattsburgh banned mining companies from entering their town for 18 months, time enough to formulate policy for existing operations still eating power — residents often complain of excessive heat and noise from facilities.
For the crypto mining industry, it’s an image problem that seems only to be growing in US towns, and even worldwide as climate concerns never abate. For cash-strapped governments, it’s the time-honored problem of balancing revenue with social cohesion and quality of life.
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