Bitcoin operations overwhelm Chelan County PUD with requests for power

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WENATCHEE- Chelan County PUD commissioners Monday received an update on a recent surge in requests for new large load power services from bitcoin and blockchain operations.

John Stoll, Customer Utilities managing director, said the unprecedented increase in requests has been overwhelming.

“Where we’re at now, with all these applicants and people who are just doing inquiries, it’s really putting a lot of stress on staff,” Stoll said, adding that priorities are around substations and new properties– which is also busier than it has been in the past.

During the past two years the market value for bitcoin – a cryptocurrency – has skyrocketed from $300 to around $20,000. Chelan PUD responded to earlier HDL interests in 2015 by developing a new rate structure for energy loads of up to 5 megawatts (MW).

Now that the cryptocurrency market is so attractive, Chelan PUD is seeing dramatically increasing interest by bitcoin miners for much larger loads. The power needs are significant.

The PUD has received four inquiries of 100MW or more, each of which will take detailed study if a formal application is submitted. Additionally, there are multiple inquiries in the 10-50MW range and ongoing interest in small “hobby” connections.

At the same time, staff are seeing unpermitted HDLs in residential neighborhoods requiring immediate attention.