Chelan PUD developing sustainable approach to requests from bitcoin miners

by Kimberlee Craig | Feb 20, 2018

Chelan PUD staff Tuesday outlined its approach for responding to the seven requests for large amounts of power that have recently been received. If realized, these requests would double the amount of PUD retail service.

The plan is based on an assessment of risk, including impacts to existing customers, and how to manage those risks. (At 00:30 on the board audio recording.

“Large amounts of service translate into potentially large amounts of dollars of risk,” General Manager Steve Wright said. “We are carefully thinking through pricing strategies that are fair to existing and new customers.”

These strategies build on the high density load rate adopted last year for below 5 megawatt load.

Chelan PUD has requests from seven operators who are seeking from 5 to 100 megawatts each, staff reported. The total amount of power sought is more than double Chelan PUD’s average local load of 180 to 200 average megawatts.

PUD staff has fielded more than 75 inquiries about service since the price of bitcoin spiked late last year. Many of the service requests are assumed to be for cryptocurrency

Requests for such large amounts of power raise issues for managing power generation, transmission and distribution.

The PUD’s approach for responding to requests of more than 5 megawatts will include:

  • An expanded application process to gather more information
  • Payments in advance for work to be performed
  • Defining contract options, including rates

The timeline for processing service requests for more than 5 megawatts will be set after the expanded application process is in place and there is a decision on the scope of needed studies.

In other business, commissioners:

  • Heard the good news that the District ended last year with a $105 million positive bottom line, $20 million better than budget. Cash reserves increased $28 million to $511 million. However, forecasts show declining wholesale prices will mean lower bottom lines in the future, said Chief Financial/Risk Officer Kelly Boyd. Forecasted reserves are currently strong even as cash is used to reduce debt and invest in core assets. With less revenue and additional investments required, borrowing and managing revenue will be needed in the 2020s. Commissioners concurred with staff recommendations to stay the course on strategic priorities. They also will consider using reserves to set aside additional funds for future facilities construction.  (02:15)
  • Reviewed the results of analysis to determine the least-cost approach to achieve state carbon reduction goals in the electric sector. Tracy Yount, External Affairs director, said a study sponsored by Northwest utilities including Chelan PUD, found that a tax on carbon would offer the most reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in the electric sector for less cost than alternatives such as increases in the state’s renewable portfolio standard. This approach also recognizes the value of Chelan County’s carbon-free hydropower.  Chelan PUD has taken no position on pending legislation and is providing information for the public to understand electric sector impacts of various carbon reduction strategies. (01:30)
  • Heard an update on Chelan Rotary’s proposal to install “Planet Walk” signs in Riverwalk Park. A community survey found more than 70 percent of respondents were interested in the 12-sign display, with information about the planets placed in relation to their location in the galaxy. Parks staff and Rotary members worked out permit terms to resolve previous concerns. Russ Jones, club member, said plans are to start installation by early summer. (00:15)
  • Were alerted that the PUD’s customer satisfaction survey begins this week. Chelan County residents might be getting a call from the PUD, as the biennial survey starts around Feb. 21. The survey will take about 10 days. Results are expected in late March.

Upcoming events:

  • March 5 – Commission meeting, 10 a.m., boardroom
  • March 19 – Commission meeting, 10 a.m., boardroom
  • April 2 – Commission meeting, 10 a.m. , boardroom
  • April 16 – Commission meeting, 10 a.m., boardroom


The next regular Chelan PUD commission meeting starts at 10 a.m. on Monday, March 5, in the boardroom at 327 N. Wenatchee Ave. 

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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