The town of Ephrata, Washington has become the latest in a growing number of Grant County (public utility district) communities, trying to hinder crypto mining activities within their borders. The city council of Ephrata, which is a community of around 8,000, has voted 6-1 in favour of blocking new crypto mining operations for at least a year, reports the Washington news outlet Spokesman.
The only council member voting against the initiative was Matt Moore, noting that even a temporary ban could cause the city’s economic development to stall. Moore claimed that, “If this is an economical business, and this is one of the ideal places to situate it, I don’t want to surrender any economic opportunity big or small.” He also added that factors determining crypto mining viability are “beyond city’s control”.
Digital currency mining startups have flocked to the area due to the easily accessible and cheap hydroelectric power, especially the Columbia River. However, they disrupted the tranquil way of life in the town, as the authorities received numerous complaints from the locals, annoyed by the noise of industrial-size air conditioners, while some have reported electricity outages.
Crypto mining companies were also criticized for using vast amounts of power and creating very few jobs. A number of Grant Count cities have already placed temporary bans on new crypto mining operations, while others imposed a higher electricity rate for the miners, which will come into effect in April. Miners will see a 15 percent increase next year, 35 percent the following year and 50 percent surge in 2021.
The year-long moratorium only concerns new virtual currency mining operations and thus do not affect the four crypto mining companies, already working in the town. Council member Kathleen Allstot claimed that, “A moratorium means taking a break. This is a one year break… We wait to see what’s going, make sure this fits in Ephrata and the Grant County has figured out how to get power to it.“
Washington state is one of the leading regions globally in terms of crypto mining as the electricity there is cheapest in the whole United States. Fittingly, GigaWatt, one of the world’s biggest mining farms, is located there. Founded by a former Microsoft engineer, GigaWatt features 13 air-cooled mining facilities, instead of a one huge data centre. In a Medium post earlier this year, the company claimed its electricity rate was 2.8 cents per kWh, which is among the lowest in the world.
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