City points to Bitcoin cryptocurrency farms for rising electric costs

Plattsburgh, NY - In Plattsburgh, some say local cryptocurrency farms may be the reason for higher electric bills.

There are two big “farms”, which are buildings full of servers to mine bitcoins– a digital currency.

Bitcoin’s draw to Plattsburgh, according to Plattsburgh BTC’s website, was the cheap electricity and a cool climate. Now, city officials say these hundreds of thousands of servers are driving costs up for everyone.

Local 22 & Local 44 reached out to Plattsburgh BTC, but have not yet heard back.

Manager of the Municipal Lighting Department Bill Treacy said there are two cryptocurrency farms in Plattsburgh. One is in the Skyway Shopping Center and the other at the Old Imperial Mill. He said these farms are putting the city over its electricity threshold.

"When we go above that limit our association the New York Municipal Power Agency has to buy more power on the market,” he said.

Treacy said there’s a finite amount of cheap power the city buys for just under five dollars per megawatt hour. Once over the limit, the city has to buy more electricity at $36 per megawatt hour.

"[Residents have] seen larger bills the last two months because of electric heating and Bitcoin adds on top of that,” Treacy said. “So we're having to buy even more because of those operations."

To put it in perspective, a normal Plattsburgh household used 4,000 to 5,000 kilowatt hours per month. A cryptocurrency farm uses millions.

“There’s no comparison between the two,” Treacy said.

In response to resident concerns, Mayor Colin Read wants to take a “time out” to figure out how to best support residents and the growing industry. Read said along with using a lot of power, there is an increased fire risk due to heat produced by servers.

"We're proposing to have an 18 month moratorium while we study this a little bit so any future operations are done as safely as possible,” Read said

There will be a public forum held next Thursday for residents to weigh in. Mayor Read expects Bitcoin to come forward then.

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