Bitcoin Mining: Another Washington County Temporarily Bans New Operations

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Mason County in Washington has joined the growing list of counties/municipalities/governments to place a moratorium on Cryptocurrency mining. Mason County’s Public Utility District announced their decision on Wednesday in order to give them time to assess the possible repercussions of mining on their power grid.

Mason County is not the first of its kind this year. Over the last few months alone there have been a couple of bans on Cryptocurrency mining in the US and Canada. The Washington County of Chelan followed on from Plattsburgh – a New York State municipality – who was the first city to put a halt to mining in March 2018. Furthermore, Quebec has also set up its own moratorium to protect its large hydroelectric power excess allowing it more time to review this new phenomena’s effect.

The Reasons Behind The Concern

The main cause for the bans on mining are – at the moment – due to the lack of knowledge about the unknown. Although it is understood that mining needs dedicated and high-performance hardware, the full extent of the electricity load is still not clear. Cryptocurrency mining is such a new industry that utility providers and officials need to thoroughly assess how mining will affect them and their residents. The prohibitions currently in place cover computer and data processing loads and their effects on power in the area, in the main. By putting these bans in place enables power suppliers the time to review and evaluate how much impact crypto mining will have on their power supply. Suppliers also need to ensure that they have enough supply to meet with the increasing demand and to keep all customers happy.

In the experience of Plattsburgh, the result of Bitcoin mining has increased the electricity bills of residents by between $100 and $200 since January 2018. The two mining farms in Plattsburgh consume approximately 11.2 megawatts of power (10% of the power supply for the whole city). To add to this, the supplier needs to purchase more power at additional cost to them and then redistribute the larger power load to ensure that there are no health and safety issues. They need to be able to do this all within their limited power capacity.

There is also – and quite rightly so – a large worry that the power load is not being managed correctly in personal residences or commercial operations. This has been highlighted by several electrical utility companies and provides real health and safety anguish.

Before going any further with the overturn of the moratoriums, government officials are additionally considering the zoning of power and lighting as well as land use laws.

As local government and power suppliers start to explore the fallout of crypto mining, the outcome of its impact will gradually become clearer. At the moment, this development is still very much an unknown and is causing both parties anxiety. As more details on research are released only then will the full consequences become clear. For now, though, the jury is still out.

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