Chelan County PUD to enforce ‘rogue’ bitcoin moratorium

The measure is aimed at “scoundrels” trying to thwart the rules surrounding cryptocurrency mining.

  • Nevonne Mcdaniels The Wenatchee World, Wash.
  • Tuesday, April 3, 2018 12:52pm
  • BusinessNorthwest

By Nevonne McDaniels / The Wenatchee World

WENATCHEE — Chelan County PUD staff now have the go-ahead to enforce the bitcoin moratorium and prevent unauthorized cryptocurrency mining activities.

Enforcement measures include:

• Fees and penalties already on the books, with more being proposed.

• Service disconnection.

• Report to law enforcement for investigation of power theft and to fire officials for public safety violations.

The enforcement measures outlined and approved Monday by PUD commissioners follow the March 19 decision to immediately stop taking new applications for high-density load (HDL) operations that require large amounts of electricity.

The moratorium was called to give staff time to develop a plan for how to address everything from safety risks such as damage to transformers from overloaded electrical systems, to noise, aesthetics, staff costs and infrastructure costs.

The push for enforcement in the wake of the moratorium is aimed at “scoundrels” trying to thwart the rules, said PUD Commissioner Garry Areseneault.

“What we’re discussing is a person who is purposely trying to slip around the end and use power in a way that a facility was not designed for and doing so in a manner where there’s been no request for service to meet that kind of demand,” he said.

PUD staff identified more than 28 unauthorized cryptocurrency mining operations throughout the county. Nineteen of them were shut down in March.

Three more were identified and shut down last week — at an apartment in Wenatchee, a house in Malaga and a mini storage unit in Chelan.

Staff reviewing meter readings saw power use at the Wenatchee apartment jump from a typical 500 kilowatt hours (kwH) to 11,000-plus kwH. PUD staff checked the location, found the balcony door and windows open, likely to help cool the cryptocurrency mining equipment. Investigation showed no one was living in the apartment.

In Malaga, the homeowner was told his mining operation was illegal and talked with staff about options for legal service, but continued to mine without following through until crews disconnected service. In Chelan, an approved operator expanded his operation beyond the allowed power amount without required notification.

At the April 16 board meeting, PUD commissioners will consider implementing additional fees, as proposed by staff, to cover costs of investigation and enforcement of the HDL rate for unauthorized operations and for the loss of useful life for overtaxed equipment. The fees could total about $5,000 for unauthorized operations in residential areas and $7,000 to $10,000 in commercial space.

A public hearing on whether to continue the moratorium is set for 1 p.m. May 14.

Chelan County and the cities of Wenatchee, Chelan, Leavenworth and Entiat also have called or are considering moratoriums on blockchain startups while zoning issues can be addressed. East Wenatchee adopted interim zoning controls that restrict the operations to the city’s central business district. Douglas County commissioners are expected to discuss the issue as well.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Business

Photo provided by 
Economic Alliance
Economic Alliance presented one of the Washington Rising Stem Awards to Katie Larios, a senior at Mountlake Terrace High School.
Mountlake Terrace High School senior wins state STEM award

Katie Larios was honored at an Economic Alliance gathering: “A champion for other young women of color in STEM.”

The Westwood Rainier is one of the seven ships in the Westwood line. The ships serve ports in the Pacific Northwest and Northeast Asia. (Photo provided by Swire Shipping)
Westwood Shipping Lines, an Everett mainstay, has new name

The four green-hulled Westwood vessels will keep their names, but the ships will display the Swire Shipping flag.

A Keyport ship docked at Lake Union in Seattle in June 2018. The ship spends most of the year in Alaska harvesting Golden King crab in the Bering Sea. During the summer it ties up for maintenance and repairs at Lake Union. (Keyport LLC)
In crabbers’ turbulent moment, Edmonds seafood processor ‘saved our season’

When a processing plant in Alaska closed, Edmonds-based business Keyport stepped up to solve a “no-win situation.”

Angela Harris, Executive Director of the Port of Edmonds, stands at the port’s marina on Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2024, in Edmonds, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Leadership, love for the Port of Edmonds got exec the job

Shoring up an aging seawall is the first order of business for Angela Harris, the first woman to lead the Edmonds port.

The Cascade Warbirds fly over Naval Station Everett. (Sue Misao / The Herald file)
Bothell High School senior awarded $2,500 to keep on flying

Cascade Warbirds scholarship helps students 16-21 continue flight training and earn a private pilot’s certificate.

Rachel Gardner, the owner of Musicology Co., a new music boutique record store on Thursday, Jan. 18, 2024 in Edmonds, Washington. Musicology Co. will open in February, selling used and new vinyl, CDs and other music-related merchandise. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
New Edmonds record shop intends to be a ‘destination for every musician’

Rachel Gardner opened Musicology Co. this month, filling a record store gap in Edmonds. owner Tom Harrison at his brick and mortar storefront on Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2022 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Burst pipe permanently closes downtown Everett toy store

After a pipe flooded the store, MyMyToystore in downtown Everett closed. Owner Tom Harrison is already on to his next venture.

Melrose and Vine Collective owner Kara Langus in her vintage collection room at her store on Friday, Jan. 5, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
New and vintage women’s boutique aims to dazzle in downtown Everett

Add some sparkle to your wardrobe: Melrose and Vine Collective opened inside a former bank building on Pacific Avenue.

Garry Clark, CEO of Economic Alliance Snohomish County. (Kevin Clark / Herald file)
CEO steps down at Economic Alliance Snohomish County

Garry Clark, who has led the nonprofit chamber of commerce for three years, is leaving to “seek new opportunities.”

Dan Bates / The Herald
When Seattle Genetics founder, Clay Siegall lost his father while in college, he switched from studying for an MD to studying for a PhD., and a goal to treat cancer patients.  His efforts are paying off in lives.
Ex-Seagen CEO to return to Bothell to lead newly relocated biotech firm

Clay Siegall, who resigned from Seagen over allegations of domestic abuse, is now CEO of cancer therapy developer Immunome.

Molbak’s Garden Cafe in Woodinville, Washington. Photographed in 2016. (Andrea Brown / The Herald)
‘Shocked and heartbroken’: Woodinville garden store Molbak’s to close

After 67 years, Molbak’s Home + Garden, a mainstay just across the county line, will cease operations early next year.

Good Cheer’s two thrift stores are great places to find Christmas decorations and other knick-knacks. (File photo by David Welton)
A guide to gift buying on Whidbey Island

Consider these unique gift idea suggestions from the South Whidbey Record and the Whidbey News-Times

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.