Monday, April 10, 2023
Foreign-owned crytomining companies are staking out Eastern Kentucky for cheap electricity, and the state’s major utilities want to give them discounted rates on their electric bills.
Critics warn cryptomining, which creates digital currency like Bitcoin, is an energy-intensive industry, putting stress on electric grids.
“These facilities are essentially these large warehouses full of computers, that are plugged into the grid all day and trying to run these computations in order to earn Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies,” Cmar explained.
In a separate case, Kentucky Power and Kentucky Utilities propose special rates for another company, called Ebon, to build a plant in Lawrence County.
“We have had a few meetings with the owners, Lawrence County Economic Development Director Vince Doty said today. “At this time we are limited as to what we can say, but I will tell you it is supposed to create 99 new well paying jobs the first year and add another 50 the following year.”
“They are going to use the existing sewer system at the plant.”
Under state law, utilities are allowed to offer special rates as an incentive for businesses. Supporters argued the intention of an incentive is attracting companies to bring jobs and other economic benefits to the utility’s service area.
Josh Bills, certified energy manager for the Mountain Association, pointed out Eastern Kentucky residents have been hit the past few years with rate increases and fuel surcharges. He said he is worried if the companies go belly-up after wearing out the grid, ratepayers might be left footing the bill.
“We just want to make sure that the electric bill gets paid if this doesn’t pan out, if they ramp up and a year later have to close shop,” Bills stressed. “We just want to make sure that none of that electricity that was consumed is not paid for.”
He added utility companies could instead be channeling resources toward building renewable energy capacity, since tax credits currently available from the federal government would help offset costs.