A Beijing-based bitcoin mining giant is after Clark County’s green-energy future. Clark Public Utilities is hoping to secure the hydropower output of Northwest Washington’s Box Canyon Dam with a long-term contract with Pend Oreille County’s PUD (which owns and runs the dam). However, a privately owned bitcoin mining joint venture called Cascade Digital Mining, which is dominated by the China-based corporation Bitmain, recently unveiled its own plan to get the dam’s renewable energy to power up to 100 megawatts of specialized bitcoin mining computers recently installed at a closed paper mill in Usk.
After a Canadian power provider walked away from a 100 megawatts power deal with the bitcoin miner, whose parent companies have problematic legal and accounting histories, last July, Cascade Digital Mining made a pay-as-you-go deal with Shell Energy for electricity at market prices. But they immediately found they cannot profitably mine electricity-intensive bitcoin at market power prices. So, they need a new power contract and they are taking aim at the nearby Box Canyon Dam.
Washington’s hydropower is our collective inheritance. We should use it to secure Washington’s energy future, not Beijing’s bank accounts.