Plattsburgh ends crypto-mining ban

PLATTSBURGH — The city has lifted its nearly one-year-long block on new or expanding cryptocurrency-mining operations.

Implemented in March 2018, that ban was to last no more than 18 months and was put in place to buy the city of Plattsburgh time to solve issues related to the virtual-mining operations.

These miners contributed to a city-wide energy increase in January 2018 that upped residential bills by over 6 percent and sparked concerns for electrical safety, high heat levels, worker heat and ventilation and noise.

A fresh New York State Public Service Commission tariff structure, known as Rider A, made mining operators responsible for quota-overage costs, and a local law, passed October 2018, tackled the remaining issues.

But still, the moratorium remained intact — until Thursday night.

The Common Council voted 5-1 to lift that moratorium, allowing new operations to enter the city and existing operations to expand.

Local miner Ryan Brienza, who attended the council session, was excited to hear the news. Brienza’s company, Zafra LLC, is a virtual-mining hosting service located in the city of Plattsburgh, and he said the moratorium has kept his company from expanding.

“I’m just looking forward to hitting the ground running tomorrow,” the CEO said after the meeting.

Councilor Peter Ensel, who voted against lifting the moratorium, said that even with the potential of a new noise ordinance, he still wasn’t on board with the virtual-mining operations.

With these miners using so much energy, Ensel wondered if they would block the municipality from future opportunities that also need energy.

At last month’s Municipal Lighting Department meeting, MLD Manager Bill Treacy said the city’s largest cryptocurrency-mining operation uses about 11.5 megawatts, while other companies in the city, such as Bombardier Transportation, use only a fraction of that.

“You could probably count on one hand the number of people (the cryptocurrency miners) have working for them,” Treacy had said.

Ensel said that sort of data is worrisome.

“It could inhibit our ability to bring in another industry or any other manufacturers that actually could create jobs,” he said after the council meeting.


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