Crypto Mining Moratorium Imposed By Washington’s Ephrata City

News, Regulation | October 22, 2018 By:

The city council of Ephrata, a city in Grant County, Washington, has voted to halt new crypto mining operations for the next 12 months.

The moratorium, which garnered a 6-1 vote, will only block new cryptocurrency mining operations from being established in Ephrata, and has no effect on the four currently located in the city. The existing four crypto businesses — two at the Port of Ephrata, one in a city-zoned industrial area, and one in a residential area — are being relocated at the moment.

“A moratorium means taking a break,” council member Kathleen Allstot said. “This is a one year break. … We wait to see what’s going, make sure this fits in Ephrata and the Grant County (Public Utility District) has figured out how to get power to it.”

The city council voted for the suspension after residents expressed concern about negative effects of crypto mining operations, such as noise pollution.

“The noise was like an ocean,” Donna Huesties, whose Nob Hill Drive home overlooks one of the city’s crypto operations, told the city council. “And I tried to pretend it was the ocean, but that gets old, 24/7, 24/7, 24/7.”

However, Matt Moore, the only council member who voted against the moratorium, said that even a temporary ban can pose a threat for the city’s economic development since it puts the industry “outside the city’s expertise.”

“Economics will be the deciding factor,” Moore said. “If this is an economical business, and this is one of the ideal places to situate it, I don’t want to surrender any economic opportunity big or small.”

Washington is an attractive site for industrial-scale miners because of its abundant hydroelectric power. It also offers the cheapest electricity in the country, with $9.56 per kWh for individuals and $8.42 per kWh for businesses. However, crypto miners have been criticized for using large amounts of power without providing significant numbers of jobs.

Last month, the Grant PUD approved a rate hike for crypto miners, which is set to be enforced in April 2019. According to the new rate adopted by the utility, miners will receive a 15-percent increase in 2019, a 35-percent increase in 2020 and a 50-percent increase in 2021.