Plattsbugh lifts ban on cryptocurrency farms

Local News

The Plattsburgh Common Council voted Thursday to lift its ban on cryptocurrency mining.

Last March, the council voted to place an 18-month moratorium on cryptocurrency farms, becoming the first city in the U.S. to do so. At that time, there were two farms in the city, using high-powered computers to scour the internet for digital currency like bitcoin.

The municipal lighting department said the farms could be to blame for higher electric bills in the city.

The New York State Public Service Commission changed the tariff system to make cryptocurrency miners responsible for their power usage – not the city. In December, Plattsburgh exceeded their 104 megawatt power quota and were forced to pay.

“We get power at a cheap rate through contract,” said Common Council Member Patrick McFarlin. “If we go over that, we have to buy electricity on the spot price. The public’s been mostly concerned with that.”

McFarlin says buying the power through the open market is expensive – anywhere from 7 to 100 times more than what they pay through their contract. With new standards in place, however, cryptocurrency miners will be recieving a bill for the overages. Ryan Brienza, a 19 year-old cryptocurrency miner and CEO of Zafra LLC, said he’s been working on a new device called the ‘BitBox’ that would capture heat from his mining device and funnel it into buildings that need it.

“We can recapture the heat that’s output from these miners and repurpose it for heating different buildings or actually capture the heat, so we’re looking to implement those in the coming months in some city buildings,” Brienza said. “We’re going to be working with the city and any involved parties to make that possible and bring some benefit to the city of Plattsburgh.”

Because the machines used for cryptocurrency mining can be very loud, the common council has also introduced a noise ordinance that is expected to be passed in the coming weeks.

With the ban lifted, Brienza and the other company who were already operating in the city can expand their business, and new cryptocurrency operations can also move in. The common council believes that the new restrictions will deter anyone who previously wanted to move operations to Plattsburgh for the low rates.

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