City in NY Temporarily Bans Commercial Bitcoin Mining

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The city of Plattsburgh, NY just took an unprecedented stand against cryptocurrency mining.

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As was first reported by Motherboard, the Plattsburgh city council on Thursday night "unanimously" passed a new local law, which imposes an 18-month moratorium on any new commercial cryptocurrency (i.e. Bitcoin) mining; existing operations can continue.

The measure, first introduced by Plattsburgh Mayor Colin Read on March 1, is intended to "prevent miners from using all the city's cheap electricity," the report notes. Violators could face civil penalties of up to $1,000 each day.

"It is the purpose of this Local Law to allow the City of Plattsburgh the opportunity to consider zoning and land use laws and municipal lighting department regulations before commercial cryptocurrency mining operations results in irreversible change to the character and direction of the City," the measure states.

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Mayor Read introduced the measure after local residents began complaining about unusually high electric bills, according to Motherboard. Plattsburgh has cheaper-than-average electricity, thanks to a nearby hydroelectric power dam, making it "increasingly attractive to cryptocurrency miners." In January – as is often the case in winter months – "Plattsburgh went over its power allotment and was forced to purchase electricity on the open market for far higher prices," Motherboard reports. The cost was split among city residents, who were not happy about the increases.

Some people saw bills go up by $100 to $200, according to Mayor Read, but businesses were hit, too. Mold Rite Plastics saw its monthly bill go up by $22,000, the local Press-Republican reports.

In January and February, a major commercial Bitcoin mining operation operated by the Puerto Rican company Coinmint "used roughly 10 percent of the city's total power budget," Motherboard reports. So, after those high bills, people took aim at cryptocurrency mining operations.

Coinmint reportedly offered to shut down for several days if its activities neared the monthly power allotment, the Press-Republican says.

Now, for the next year and a half, the city will not be issuing any new permits for commercial cryptocurrency mining. Meanwhile, at least one local miner told the news outlet they are willing to pay for overages during the winter.

This article originally appeared on PCMag.com.