A utility provider in Washington has ramped up security measures in anticipation of backlash in response to a moratorium recently placed on cryptocurrency miners by the company. Despite the measures, the company has not experienced a single incident requiring police assistance.
Washington Utility Fears Backlash From Disconnected Crypto Miners
Chelan County Power Utility District (PUD) of north-central Washington has enacted heightened security measures including “bulletproof panels and security cameras at PUD headquarters” according to local media.
Reports are attributing the increased security precautions to concerns of retaliation from “two cryptocurrency-related groups — unauthorized miners whose power has been disconnected and high-density load service applicants denied because of the current moratorium.”
In March, Chelan County PUD’s commissioners launched “an emergency moratorium on new high-density load hookups to give staff time to develop a plan for dealing with the demand for electricity from digital currency miners.”
Emotions “Running High”
Chelan County PUD spokeswoman, Kimberlee Craig, has stated that “PUD employees in the field and those in the office who are handling issues related to high-density load service have encountered an increasing number of upset customers and potential customers. In some cases, people can get agitated and argumentative. Our goal always is to provide excellent customer service, as well as to keep customers, the public and employees safe, especially when emotions may be running high.”
Despite the increased security measures, Mrs. Craig indicated that none of the incidents have escalated to the point of requiring assistance from law enforcement. “The volume of requests and the sense of urgency by applicants has changed the dynamics of the interaction by staff with the cryptocurrency customers,” she added.
Unauthorized Mining Operations Proliferate Despite Moratorium
Chelan County PUD has indicated that when the moratorium was called, it had “22 approved high-density load customers using a total of about 13.5 megawatts; 19 pending applications for 16.3 megawatts; and had identified 28 unauthorized operations, with a watchlist of 12 and growing. Of the 28, 19 were shut down.”
Since taking action, the PUD’s staff has reportedly identified “three more unauthorized operations each week.” The company has expressed concerns about “unauthorized bitcoin operators overloading the system, creating fire hazards and damaging power grid infrastructure.”
Amnesty Period for Unauthorized Mining Operations
During April, the company brought forward a number of measures designed to curb the power consumed by miners, including facilitating the immediate disconnection power, and the introduction of fees — up to $6,150 for in-home cryptocurrency operations and $11,400 for those in commercial or light industrial space — for those who violate the company’s policy.
The measures have included “an amnesty period for unauthorized Bitcoin miners not yet identified by the PUD,” during which unauthorized miners must shut down immediately and notify the PUD in order to qualify for amnesty. The amnesty period will be in place until May 14 – at which point commissioners conduct a public hearing regarding whether the company should continue to maintain the moratorium.