For Bitcoin mining companies operating in the U.S., the state of Washington is their best bet. Having some of the cheapest power in the U.S., the Evergreen state, much like its namesake, is a cryptocurrency mining haven as it is home to hydroelectric dams that harness the flow of the massive Columbia River.
Grand Coulee Dam in Washington
In Wenatchee, a city located at the confluence of the Columbia and Wenatchee rivers, a Bitcoin mining invasion is underway.
When asked how massive is the scale these newly-established mining activities are, Frank Kuntz, mayor of Wenatchee chuckled.
“If you ask the guys at UPS or FedEx what they’re delivering to Wenatchee, I think they’d tell you it’s a whole bunch of bitcoin mining machines.”
If all these cryptocurrency mining operations are approved, the power demand in Wenatchee could quadruple, and this does not include the massive amounts of money required for the new infrastructure. Already, the Public Utility District of Chelan County – which is where Wenatchee is located – has received four different mining inquiries, all of which require 100 megawatts each. That’s equivalent to the amount of power that could operate 50 hospitals.
“We’re getting requests for service that are just astounding,” said Steve Wright, general manager of the Chelan County Public Utility District.
Furthermore, since cryptocurrency mining operations can be packed into small spaces, their average energy use of per square foot is much higher than any other facilities out there. For example, a small laundry basket-size computer server that packs enough power to run 1,000 homes can be squeezed into a 25 by 25-foot room.
However, this increases the risk of a power outage as the strain that mining servers put on electrical systems that are not accustomed for such heavy usage can result in melted wires and overloaded transformers. In worse case scenarios, this can also lead to a fire – last summer, there was a breakout in Entiat, about 20 miles north of Wenatchee, because of this reason.
Already, there are about 30 mining facilities that are set up in Chelan County after Bitcoin’s bull run last year that led to a 2,000% increase in price. The number keeps increasing, however – according to reports from local officials, they receive up to 20 calls a week from crypto-miners asking to set up shop in the region.
Steve Schaeffer, president of crypto-capital strategies at MGT Capital Investments predicts that the power prices in Washington will increase sooner or later because of this influx in mining operations.
“We’re going to see miners pay higher rates in the region, the whole mystique of Washington will be a distant memory.”