PUD Utility Boosts Staff Security After Confrontations Crypto Miners

Chelan County PUD is taking additional security measures to deal with possible future escalations of situations involving crypto mining groups and its staff due to disconnection of power, Bitcoin moratorium and denial of high-density load service to applicants.

Chelan County Public Utility District is providing bulletproof panels and security cameras at the PUD headquartered. As a measure to protect the staff against bad behavior reportedly from two cryptocurrency-related groups.

The groups, which were carrying illegal mining activity in the region, started the behavior after the utility disconnected power after the Bitcoin moratorium in the city. The utility also denied high-density load service applicants due to the moratorium.

Although there were no reports of violence or escalation to the point of calling law enforcement, PUD spokeswoman Kimberlee Craig said that “people can get agitated and argumentative” in some cases. Thus this was a proactive initiative. She added that their goal was to provide “excellent customer service, as well as to keep customers, the public and employees safe”. Especially when emotions run high.

Craig said,

“The volume of requests and the sense of urgency by applicants has changed the dynamics of the interaction by staff with the cryptocurrency customers.”

PUD Security Director Rich Hyatt said among the initiative were to design a secure lobby at their downtown service building. However where requests and discussions about a new service would be held. The headquarters will also see more ballistic panels and more cameras. As the staff gets more training on when to call PUD security staff for help.

Other measures include working with local law enforcement when there is the suspicion that those carrying illegal mining operations are stealing power.

The developments come even as demand for electricity from digital currency miners soared. The demand was top when Bitcoin was highest in December 2017. Although it is back to about $7,000, still up from $500 in 2013.

However, the number of requests is still high as there are expectations that Bitcoin will increase in price again. For instance, in summer 2017 PUD received 125 new service requests for a total of more than 2,000 megawatts of electricity. This was about four times the power needs of all homes, businesses, government institutions and industry in the county.

75 percent of these requests came from cryptocurrency firms. It signifies that the county, like many other places with cheaper electricity rates around the world. It is receiving more requests for crypto mining firms seeking establishments in areas with low electricity rates.

With the increase in the price of cryptocurrencies, it is obvious that mining activity has been increasing. But authorities — even in other areas with the high number of requests from crypto mining firms to establish operations. However, they are having to deal with issues related to renewing regulations relating to electricity use, tariffs, and business operation.

Already, 10 commercial cryptocurrency mining operations are active in Grant County. These have managed a load of 16.4 megawatts as of February.

What will be the effect of rising demand for crypto mining in the Chelan County? Share your views with us on Twitter and Telegram

Image SourceChelan County PUD

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David Kariuki is a journalist who has a wide range of experience reporting about modern technology solutions including cryptocurrencies. A graduate of Kenya's Moi University, he also writes for Hypergrid Business, Cryptomorrow, and Cleanleap, and has previously worked for Resources Quarterly and Construction Review magazines.

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