Washington’s Grant County Approves Energy Rate Hike For Crypto Miners

News, Regulation | September 3, 2018 By:

The Grant county public utility district (Grant PUD) in Washington state has approved a rate hike for cryptocurrency miners.

Last week, the commissioners of the Grant County PUD unanimously approved the new Rate 17 for evolving industries. The utility said that the decision was made after “nearly a year of analysis, staff outreach to the county’s cryptocurrency firms and public comment on the new rate at every commission meeting since the rate’s initial proposal in early May.”

According to the utility, starting April 1, 2019, cryptocurrency miners and other comparable operations will pay the first of a three-year, graduated increase to a new, above-cost electric rate designed to mitigate Grant PUD financial risk and maintain low cost rates for core customers.

“Rate 17 customers will receive a 15-percent increase next year, a 35-percent increase in 2020 and a 50-percent increase in 2021, when the new rate will be fully in effect,” the utility said. “Any new evolving-industry customers would come in at the rate-phase in effect at the time they begin operations. Each annual increase will be calculated on the difference between what the evolving-industry customer is paying now (per kilowatt hour) and the higher, target rate.”

Since summer 2017, Grant PUD said that it has received new service inquires for more than 2,000 megawatts of power — more than three times the electricity needed to power all Grant County homes, farms, businesses and industry. Approximately 75 percent of those requests are from crypto miners.

The utility added that evolving-industry firms present three main types of risk, including regulatory risk, business risk and concentration risk. The increased rate compensates Grant PUD for these risk and obliges evolving-industry customers to pay more than the cost to supply their power to subsidize sustainable below-cost rates for residential, irrigation and small and medium-sized business customers.

“Your industry is unregulated and high-risk,” Grant PUD commissioner Tom Flint told the miners who attended the meeting. “This is the best way to ensure our ratepayers are not impacted by this unregulated, high-risk business.”

Flint’s fellow commissioners agreed and differentiated crypto mining from the data centers in Quincy and elsewhere, which own land and buildings, pay taxes, have solid credit records, store customer information and provide Internet-based services.

“I don’t view miners as villains,” Commissioner Larry Schaapman said. “You have likened yourselves to the data centers, but you can only do one thing — mine bitcoin.”