The Chelan County Public Utility District (PUD) in Washington state is heightening its security over fears of angry Bitcoin mining operators who are being shut down.
As some countries crack down on Bitcoin mining, operators have taken to looking for greener pastures. The chief concern is paying as cheaply as possible for electricity as the energy demands of mining are high. Some locales are finding themselves overwhelmed by the increased demand and are actually shutting down some operations, which is making the affected miners really angry.
Case in point is the Chelan County Public Utility District (PUD) located in Washington state. The PUD found that their system was being heavily strained by Bitcoin mining operations, so commissioners declared a moratorium on such activity back in March.
Then in April, commissioners authorized the staff of the PUD to take action in several ways against miners. First, they have the authority to immediately disconnect an account from the system. Second, they can fine those found violating the moratorium up to $6,150 (for in-home operations) or $11,400 (for commercial operations). Thirdly, violators could eventually be charged with power theft. (However, this last action is still being worked on as it could be legally problematic.) It should be noted that there is an amnesty currently in effect if a miner shuts down and reports his operation to the PUD.
When the Chelan County PUD put the moratorium in place, the county had 22 approved high-density load customers (who used about 13.5 megawatts in total). The PUD also had applications from 19 more Bitcoin mining operators, which would have required about 16.3 megawatts in total. Besides those accounts, the public utility district found 28 unauthorized mining operations, of which 19 have been shut down. However, the district is finding that three more unauthorized operations are popping up each week.
As you can imagine, the miners being shut down are not happy about the situation at all. Apparently, the PUD is getting an earful from the miners, which is causing the PUD to freak out a bit. A PUD spokesperson said:
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.
The spokesperson went on to add:
The volume of requests and the sense of urgency by applicants has changed the dynamics of the interaction by staff with the cryptocurrency customers.
To deal with the threat of a horde of pissed-off Bitcoin mining operators, the Chelan County PUD is doing the following:
- Building a small, secure lobby for new services that will cost $20,000.
- Add ballistic panels and more cameras to the lobby of PUD headquarters.
- Make an assessment of two PUD office locations to see what extra security measures may be needed.
- Increase the visibility of uniformed security staff.
- Train security staff to look for negative body language to determine if a person is agitated (and potentially dangerous).
- Train PUD staff on when to call security for help.
Sounds like working at the Chelan County PUD is pretty dangerous, right? Maybe visiting the PUD offices is akin to fighting off marauders, Mad Max style. Well, one key fact should be pointed out. The district notes that there still hasn’t been an incident where they felt that law enforcement needed to be called. To be honest, this seems like a hysterical overreaction by the local authorities.
Do you think the Chelan County PUD is overreacting or not? Wouldn’t Bitcoin miners just go elsewhere for electricity rather than going on a rampage? Let us know in the comments below.
Images courtesy of Pixabay and Bitcoinist archives.