Residents and business owners in the Finger Lakes region have been protesting for more than a year against a natural gas plant that has powered a bitcoin mining operation in the area. But the plant’s future faces even greater peril from the state as critics and officials say it flies in the face of an ambitious new state law designed to cut down on carbon emissions.
Since spring 2020, the Greenidge Generation power plant in Dresden, New York has powered a 24-7 bitcoin mining operation, wherein computer servers solve complex algorithms to collect electronic currency. It now supports nearly 20,000 computers that last year produced 1,866 bitcoins with a projected revenue of more than $100 million. The endeavor was so profitable that the company plans to double their computing power and increase power generation close to maximum capacity.
But Greenidge’s red brick smokestacks and metal transformers have long been at odds with the pristine vistas and vineyards of the Finger Lakes. Formerly a coal plant that shuttered in 2011, its revival is once again endangering the region environmentally and economically, according to some residents.
It’s also at odds with New York’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, which mandates a reduction of economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions 40% by 2030 and no less than 85% by 2050 from 1990 levels. And the conflict between the state’s climate goals and a burgeoning new industry reflects a growing tension nationally between the fight against climate change and the energy-intensive pursuit of mining for cryptocurrency.
Author(s): Rosemary Misdary
Publication Date: 17 Feb 2022
Publication Site: Gothamist