back to article Crypt-NO-coins: US city bans mining funbux on its electrical power grid

A city in upstate New York has become the first in America to effectively ban any new commercial-grade cryptocurrency miners from powering up. Mayor Colin Read and the city council of Plattsburgh this month signed off on a measure to place an 18-month moratorium on any new industrial-scale crypto-coin crafting operations …

  1. Sven Coenye

    Wrong lake

    Plattsburgh's electricity comes from Niagra Falls, i.e. Lake Erie, not Champlain.

    The catch is that the city has a ~100MW fixed allotment of the power produced at Niagra. That is normally within their power budget, but the margin is fairly slim. The crypto miners are blowing that and power to fill the shortfalls comes at 4x the Niagra rates.

    1. StargateSg7 Bronze badge

      Re: Wrong lake

      Up and over here in Canada we have British Columbia Hydro, Quebec Hydro and Hydro One (Ontario) which basically produce the CHEAPEST BULK power rates in North America, so power consumption is NOT an issue here. There are more than a few companies who I know are evaluating bulk pricing and reservation of Hydro Dam output at rates as low as 5 cents per kilowatt hour (YUP! Less than five cents per hour!) To get that rate of course they have to reserve and pay up front ENORMOUS SUMS but if you can afford it as a larger company, you can't beat the price! In terms of retail end-user prices, typical costs can get as low at 8 cents to 11 cents per kilowatt/hour in British Columbia if you negotiate hard enough and buy enough as a medium-size business.

      My suggestion if you can wrangle it, is to buy 500,000 litres of PROPANE (which has TWICE the energy density of Natural Gas!) and put in BALLARD FUEL CELLS (thin film membrane power generators) to do a direct conversion to electricity with almost no NOx emissions. At 500,000 litres you get a lot of power for a cheap price and can probably get your electrical consumption cost downto about 6 to 8 cents per kilowatt/hour and that INCLUDES the initial costs of putting in the multiple 120,000 litre propane tanks, propane transport costs and fuel cell generator costs. So it might make fiscal sense to look at propane if you are a large scale crypto-miner.

      1. Donn Bly

        Re: propane

        But that would shift the shortage to propane, driving the cost up there. We already have seasonal shortages around here, and some years even have rationing where they will refuse to fully fill larger stationary tanks.

        1. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

          Re: propane

          With electricity you move to where electricity is plentiful and cheap. With propane.....

          1. StargateSg7 Bronze badge

            Re: propane

            In British Columbia, Canada (i.e. North of Seattle, Washington, USA), even though BC Hydro is CHEAP and RELIABLE, I would still want my FULL off-grid electrical capability and based upon my calculations, the energy density of Propane and it's current cost here in Western Canada (which is cheap as dirt!) allows me buy 500,000 litres and make some decent money on crypto-mining with a whole 50 racks of general purpose GPUs (not just the ASIC miners). The waste heat will be sucked into a heat transfer unit attached to an indoor swimming pool, hot tub and water heater so I can enjoy some nice 30C+ indoor pool swimming year-round at a comfortable temperature EVEN WHEN temps in parts of upper BC can be between -15C to +15C on average. So while I swim around and leisurely sipping on sangria, my system would be crypto-mining on a dirt-cheap basis with NO interruption from power outages or brownouts or municipal cutoffs. Now I just have to convince my much more well off brother to spend some of his hard earned money on my idea...which will basically only happen when hell freezes over!

            The cost of that propane is equivalent to around 8 cents U.S. OR LESS per kilowatt hour and that includes the cost of the BULK propane delivery, handling, storage and Ballard fuel cell infrastructure!

            Makes financial sense to me!

      2. Irongut

        Re: Wrong lake

        I bet that's an application of Propane that even Hank Hill hasn't seen before!

    2. Sleep deprived
      Happy

      Re: Wrong lake

      It's not Niagra, but Niagara (with three a's), or was your mind on something else?

      1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

        Re: Wrong lake

        "It's not Niagra, but Niagara"

        A stiff rebuke! (missus, i'faith, nuncle, and other Fool-ish ejaculations, marry.)

    3. kryptylomese

      Re: Wrong lake

      A National Grid like the would solve the power limitation issue and applying a commercial tariff seems only fair!

  2. Ledswinger Silver badge

    Can't speak for the states

    But would seem to me that coin mining is a business activity, and should be on commercial tariff. That usually has a whole load of charges for connection capacity, maximum demand, maximum demand at peak times, seasonal and time of day pricing. If the coin miners are in danger of blowing the city allocation, then clearly the pricing model is wrong - probably by averaging the price impact of incremental loads across all users rather than punishing those incremental uses (accepting that would apply to all incremental use).

    Shouldn't be difficult to agree competitive "top up" power supplies, so we're not talking vast amounts of money to make the system balance.

    1. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

      Re: Can't speak for the states

      This is pretty much Silicon Valley since the 1990s. Big power users have long term contracts to make financial planning easier. This means the new power hog on the block needs to wait for the grid upgrades to be completed or there'd be an outage. So far there's no end in sight with neighborhoods getting rewired to support electric cars.

  3. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    market solution

    They should not ban crypto miners, they should set a commercial tarrif such that drawing huge amounts of power is uneconomical for them.

    1. JimC Silver badge

      Re: market solution

      They really ought to be banned. Environmentally speaking its a disaster with large amounts of energy and materials being used to produce precisely nothing.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: market solution

        They would counter that nothing is the end result of EVERYTHING. After all, death is inevitable for everyone, right?

        1. Dal90

          Re: market solution

          #entropy

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Barium

    A friend of mine runs his 4 bedroom house off of a barium powered generator that he claims costs about $100.00 a year for the barium.

    He used to mine bitcoin due to the low energy costs.

    He recently sold off $500k in bitcoin to purchase a warehouse so he can start mass producing the generators.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Barium

      No doubt he is now looking for investors to join him (a.k.a. scam) with his commercial venture.

    2. King Jack
      Megaphone

      Re: Barium

      Sounds familiar: My best friend's aunt makes $5000 per month.... you get the picture.

  5. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
    Pint

    Hydro power doesn't arise from flat water

    "[Plattsburgh's] proximity to [Lake Champlain] also means [that] Plattsburgh is able to enjoy low-cost hydroelectric power..."

    Lakes might be a suitable outfall, but you'd want a river. Or a cliff. There's plenty of hydro power in the area, from Hydro Quebec, Niagara Falls, and many others. But being on a lake shore doesn't cause inexpensive hydro power. My house is on a nice lake; while quite lovely it fails to offer me any direct hydro power options.

    Worth noting here that Canada's grid is 65% hydro power, and has been so for decades. And I'm not even sure if that includes the billion+ dollars per year exported to the USA.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hydro power doesn't arise from flat water

      But wasn't the construction of your hydro reservoirs an environmental disaster of Soviet proportions?

      1. Haefen

        Re: Hydro power doesn't arise from flat water

        Yes and ongoing CO2 emissions from the lakes created, particularly those in the North.

        A point of clarification. Canada does not have a Grid. Electricity is a resource and each province is responsible for that. Some have lots of water suitable for hydro-generation, some do not.

        If this town is buying cheap power from Ontario, it is due to Nuclear Power which supplies the base load and at this moment is supplying about 10GW while Hydro is supplying 4GW.

        When prices are low Hydro shuts down.

  6. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
    Pint

    A larger solution...

    Electric power used for computation, generating waste heat.

    Electric power used for space or water heating.

    Integrate these.

    I've already (repeatedly) suggested that we're very close to the point where ~$100 1kw baseboard heaters (or Heater Bars in UK-speak) could be cost effectively replaced by $1000 1kw CPU Arrays, built into the same form factor. The extra cost of the hardware is profitably recovered by the value of the CPU cycles.

    Everything is falling into place. Widespread broadband. Auction sites, to sell off the CPU cycles. Coin Mining. Protein Folding for charity to balance supply. Just requires mass production of $100 100-watt CPU modules, to be clicked together. These new economics would re-optimize the design of the CPU Heater brick. Older and cheaper designs might be optimum, maybe.

    It's (just about) time.

    June-August remains an issue. Not enough land mass and population in the Southern Hemisphere. Of course, Domestic Hot Water is needed year round.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A larger solution...

      Mmmm, I love me some planned obsolescence.

      Being pure fiat currencies backed by absolutely nothing, cryptocurrencies are one of the few things governments can actually legislate out of existence. It's inevitable.

      1. Michael Habel Silver badge

        Re: A larger solution...

        cryptocurrencies are one of the few things governments can actually legislate out of existence. It's inevitable.

        Love to see 'em try it pal... Crypto aint going anywhere. So poohpoo to you MUH GPUs!

      2. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

        Re: A larger solution...

        How?

  7. DCFusor Silver badge
    Pirate

    Obvious corruption

    So, the existing miners colluded with the authorities to lock out any new competition?

    Doh....pay attention, people.

    This is just like national regulatory capture done on a small scale. Bet it's even easy to follow the money.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    >As Reg readers know, alt-coin crafting rigs can be tremendous power hogs.

    Baikal and Bitmain both have ASIC's on the go currently hashing the hell out of the 'ASIC resistant' coins these only run at lightbulb draws - eg Baikals Giant N does 20kH/s on Cryptonight (Monero etc) but only consumes 60W. You can see the spike in difficulty as they came online over the last couple of months.

  9. PyLETS
    Flame

    Much of the leccy used is likely to be stolen.

    Various articles are referencing use of vast botnets, malware, adware or mobile apps to mine cryptocurrency. The externalised cost is your CPU running hotter, and your mobile battery being exhausted sooner. Then there's what the BOFHs do with them and your employers electric bill when they ask you to leave your workplace computers on all weekend for 'software updates'.

    Any crytocurrency mining operation which gets someone else to pay the electric bill will outcompete those who have to pay the market rate. How to burn the planet sooner rather than later.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why not? The city isn't deriving any tax revenue from cryptocurrency mining, and the vast majority of the voter base likely doesn't care. Very courageous.

    Now wait until New York State legalizes marijuana. I'll credit this mayor with some proper stones if he initiates a ban on grow lamps.

    1. Michael Habel Silver badge

      Why not? The city isn't deriving any tax revenue from cryptocurrency mining.

      This is what we find... There is no kickback to the Bankstwers or their political pupets. And, these deversive bastards have the shear gall to snub the perferctly crafted Fiat Currency so lovingly bulk printed e.g. Quantitive easing... for their consuption. For something that actually has some objectifiable value to them?

      HOW DARE THEY!

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