News

PUD board sets new fees and charges for unauthorized crypto miners

by Kimberlee Craig | Apr 16, 2018

Chelan PUD commissioners Monday approved new fees and charges for investigation and enforcement of unauthorized services including cryptocurrency and similar data operations and for the loss of useful life for overtaxed power equipment. The unanimous action puts the fees and charges in effect immediately.

The action comes as PUD staff continues to find unauthorized cryptocurrency mining – two to three a day on average. (At 02:05 on the meeting audio recording.)

John Stoll, Customer Utilities managing director, reported discovering and shutting off power to three rogue operations last week. One unauthorized operation was in a south Wenatchee commercial space, another in a west Wenatchee home rented out pending a sale and the third, perhaps most troubling, Stoll said, in the forest off Highway 2.

Near the Nason Creek Rest Area, Stoll and PUD crew members found evidence of cryptocurrency mining in an outbuilding connected to a remote home, “by a bundle of extension cords.” With warmer weather ahead, there was a high fire risk, he said.

Customers found without authorized electric service face fees of up to $6,150 for in-home cryptocurrency operations and $11,400 for those in commercial or light industrial space. Unauthorized operations deemed a safety hazard will lose power immediately and be assessed all charges.

Customers also could face prosecution for power theft.

Commissioners extended amnesty for assessing the fees until May 14 in cases where customers without authorized service, and no history of HDL use or suspected use, stop mining immediately and notify the PUD, prior to hearing from the utility. May 14 is the public hearing on the application moratorium imposed on March 19 for new high density loads.

The new fees are:

For all unauthorized service

  • $1,400 – metering & monitoring
  • $2,000 – investigation & enforcement

In addition, for unauthorized operations in homes

  • $1,000 – residential security deposit
  • $1,750  - residential equipment degradation

Or, in addition, for unauthorized operations in commercial and industrial spaces

  • $4,700 – Commercial equipment degradation (overhead service)
  • $8,000 – Commercial equipment  degradation (underground service)

Kerri Wendell, Customer Relations manager, outlined the challenges faced in evaluating applications with incomplete and inaccurate information, managing temporary compliance and responding to customers upset about enforcement.

Cathy Melton Customer Service analyst, presented plans to get information on the new fees and charges, and on the dangers of unauthorized operations, to potential and existing customers by advertising, social media posts, bill messages, mailers and discussions at service clubs and civic meetings.

Commissioners will review the application moratorium for bitcoin mining and similar data operations and take comment at a public hearing at 1 p.m. on May 14, at the Confluence Technology Center.

In other business, commissioners:

  • Congratulated Commissioner Randy Smith on receiving the 2018 Paul J. Raver Community Service Award from the Northwest Public Power Association (NWPPA). The award honors an individual or company who has demonstrated superior leadership in the betterment of cities, states, or regions. Smith is a two-term PUD commissioner who has served since 2007. A Cashmere orchardist, he’s held many leadership positions in agriculture and served on the school board. He is active with Rotary and in state and federal public power organizations. He also led development of Chelan County’s cultural relationship as a “sister region” of Issyk-Kul, Kyrgyzstan. Smith will receive the award next month at NWPPA’s annual conference in Boise. (01:50)
  • Allocated $300,000 from 2018 Public Power Benefit project funds to support forming a nonprofit Hydro Research Institute. To start, the institute will compile data from hydro projects and coordinate research on operations with the potential to reduce forced outages, improve operations and maintenance and develop new sensors and monitors. Memberships and the ability to apply for grants would bring in added funding. Local agriculture, education and technology groups also support the institute. (02:45)
  • Heard an update on the PUD’s response to the 2016 strategic initiative on electrifying transportation. Jim White, senior energy conservation engineer, reported on use of the five PUD-owned electric vehicle (EV) chargers installed at District locations and the PUD’s participation in two studies on the utility impacts of EVs. The studies found that EVs are positive for the region and customers, with net benefits for most utilities, except Chelan PUD. Increased retail sale of electricity in Chelan County would not cover the loss of wholesale revenue and distribution costs. More study is underway to find options to reduce local financial impacts of increasing EV ownership, including accepting the load as part of organic growth.  (00:35)
  • Heard a summary on District efforts to understand possible impacts of climate change on PUD operations. (00:56)
  • Were invited to join PUD employees at Earth Day celebrations this weekend in Chelan and Wenatchee on Saturday and Leavenworth on Sunday. (01:38)

Upcoming events:

  • April 21 – Earth Day celebrations in Chelan and Wenatchee
  • April 22 – Earth Day Fair in Leavenworth
  • April 30 – Commission meeting, 10 a.m. boardroom (rescheduled)
  • May 12 – River Ramble, 10 a.m., Rocky Reach Discovery Center
  • May 14 – Study session, 10 a.m. boardroom (rescheduled)
  • May 14 – Business session, 1 p.m., Confluence Technology Center, 285 Technology Way, Wenatchee
  • May 19 – Kids Fest, 10 a.m., new location in Walla Walla Point Park
  • May 28 – Memorial Day holiday
  • June 4 – Commission meeting, 10 a.m. boardroom
  • June 5 – Tri-Commission meeting, 1 p.m., Confluence Technology Center, 285 Technology Center Way, Wenatchee

***

The next regular Chelan PUD commission meeting starts at 10 a.m. on Monday, April 30, in the boardroom at 327 N. Wenatchee Ave. 

Chelan PUD records most commission meetings, and a link to the audio is available on the PUD’s home page at www.chelanpud.org. Find us on Facebook.com/ChelanPUD and follow us on Twitter @ChelanPUD.

Outages or Emergencies

Visit our Safety and Outage Center for information, or to report an outage, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, call 1-877-PUD-8123.

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