Lawsuit Filed to Uncover Details of Tennessee Valley Authority’s Agreement with Crypto Mining Firm Bitdeer

News | May 7, 2024 By:

On Thursday, April 25, 2024, Melanie Faizer, a journalist and professor who resides in Knoxville, filed a lawsuit against the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

The suit stems from a FOIA request Faizer had submitted to the TVA on April 12, 2023, seeking access to agreements and contracts between the TVA and cryptocurrency mining company Bitdeer, as well as information on Bitdeer’s power usage. Bitdeer operates a cryptocurrency mining facility in Knoxville that employs around 30 people but accounts for a significant portion of local energy consumption.

Cryptocurrency mining involves using high-powered computer servers to process cryptocurrency transactions like Bitcoin at high speeds, consuming large amounts of electricity in the process. Some community members have expressed concerns that such mining operations are driving up energy prices and straining the local power grid.

After receiving no response for over a year, Faizer filed the lawsuit alleging the TVA unlawfully withheld records from her original FOIA request, as well as two subsequent appeals. While the TVA provided some partially redacted records in response to the appeals, the lawsuit claims the redactions lack proper legal justification under FOIA exemptions.

The complaint specifically challenges redactions applied to six records relating to agreements between the TVA and Bitdeer, arguing the TVA improperly withheld information under FOIA exemptions covering confidential business information and inter-agency communications. As the TVA is a federal agency, the suit asserts the public has a legitimate interest in understanding its operations and economic incentive programs.

The lawsuit seeks a court order requiring the TVA to disclose the unredacted versions of the records, as well as declaratory relief stating the TVA violated FOIA in its responses. It aims to help the public hold the TVA accountable as the largest public utility in the region. A ruling could provide more transparency into the TVA’s relationships with cryptocurrency mining companies and its efforts to attract new jobs and industry to the local energy grid.

Please contact BlockTribune for access to a copy of this filing.