A Washington County is Taking Steps to Halt Illegal Cryptocurrency Mining
Chelan County in Washington is taking a stand against unauthorized crypto mining. Its Public Utility District (PUD) has started by cutting miners’ power, and are moving towards possibly imposing heavy fines.
Earlier this year saw the little town of Wenatchee in Chelan County shine in the crypto spotlight as being a preferred destination for Bitcoin mining. Now, the county is once again the focus, but for a slightly different reason – illegal cryptocurrency mining
Action Taken Against Three Operators
According to the county’s Public Utility District (PUD) website, unauthorized crypto mining has become an issue not only in Wenatchee, but also in the community of Malaga and in the city of Chelan. In all three cases, the amount of electricity being used posed a fire risk, as well as having the potential to seriously damage grid equipment. As a result, PUD shut down power to those three locations.
In the first case, a seemingly abandoned apartment in Wenatchee had a dramatic power increase, 20 times as much as the usual reading in just one month. This prompted authorities to investigate.
The unauthorized miner in Malaga was in talks with PUD about legalizing his mining, but still carried on operations during this time, until his power was cut off.
In Chelan, mini storage units were being used by an authorized miner whose power was cut off when the mining exceeded the agreed-upon power limit without advising the PUD.
Threat to Public Safety
PUD Commissioner Steve McKenna had this to say:
Not only are we concerned, we’re incensed that individuals are putting people at risk. We’re not going to tolerate it. This is a strong message, and I want to make that very clear.
However, PUD Commissioner Garry Arseneault advised that authorized crypto mining is not under threat:
I want to take one step back and say that users of power that have legitimate requests, and have been properly sized for the use of that power, that’s not the kind of entity we’re discussing today.
He went to add:
What we’re discussing is a person who is purposely trying to slip around the end and use power in a way that a facility was not designed for and doing so in a manner where there’s been no request for service to meet that kind of demand. I see yet, once again, a reason to support the installation of automated meters to be able to confront these scoundrels before they do burn an apartment building down and perhaps kill a family or children in the process.
After approving a moratorium, the county has subsequently stopped working on new and existing crypto mining applications as authorities look at solving issues, including how to deal with unauthorized miners.
In addition, PUD is working on approving hefty fines for miners who flagrantly disregard stipulated regulations. Unauthorized miners in residential zones could pay as much as $5k, while those in commercial zones could see their pockets $7k to $10k lighter.
These illegal miners could also face jail time as PUD may report unauthorized operators to law enforcement (for power theft) and to fire officials due to the risks posed.
What do you think of the proposed consequences for these unauthorized miners? Let us know in the comments below!
Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Wikimedia Commons