Plattsburgh becomes first in nation to ban bitcoin mining

Published: Mar. 16, 2018 at 5:34 PM EDT
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Bitcoin mining could get more expensive in New York.

Thursday, the New York Public Service Commission ruled local power authorities in upstate New York can charge a higher rate for electricity to those running a cryptocurrency company.

Bitcoin mining companies tend to use a lot of power running computer servers, so they flock to areas where power is least expensive like Plattsburgh.

There were concerns that the city's electricity bills were rising because of those companies but the electric department told us spikes were likely due to cold weather.

Meanwhile, Plattsburgh has become the first city in the country to put a moratorium on cryptocurrency.

Mayor Colin Read proposed the moratorium. The vote was Thursday night after people got to weigh in on the bitcoin controversy. Residents from both sides of the debate weighed in on their concerns if bitcoin mining continues in the city and if people looking to mine the cryptocurrency see Plattsburgh's cheap power as a draw.

"We've had some long ongoing things in place that have been in place and in process to move toward using that 6.5 megawatts of cryptocurrency and we want to make sure that this moratorium does not affect in-process solutions," said Doug Butdorf, a Plattsburgh resident and property manager.

"I think they're going to continue to come in here until they drive the electric rates up to the commercial rates. It's a comparative advantage for these companies to come in and get the cheap electric. And they're going to keep coming in until the electric price gets very close to the commercial rates and it's going to punish the local taxpayers and ratepayers quite a bit," said Jeff Moore of Plattsburgh.

The City Council voted unanimously to impose the ban. It will take effect once the mayor approves it and it's filed with the New York secretary of state. That ban will last for the next 18 months and it only affects new operations.

In the meantime, the city will work with existing cryptocurrency companies to resolve power issues.