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Valley County crypto mining project sparks concerns from community

Some Valley County residents are expressing concerns over an upcoming item on the Valley County Planning and Zoning agenda. 

The project? A cryptocurrency mining facility. These facilities use computers to make digital currencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum. This particular project would be constructed at 219 Ashton Lane in McCall near Jug Mountain. 

Some neighbors are worried that over time the facility’s effects would negatively impact the community. They have taken issue with the potential heightened electricity rates. A White House factsheet about these developments shows that it is difficult to determine how much electricity these facilities will require at the start, as the demand is not known. 

“Despite the potential for rapid growth, future electricity demand from crypto-asset operations is uncertain. Electricity usage can change as crypto-asset miners ramp their activities up or down in response to market value fluctuations, and as they adopt new equipment and technologies,” the fact sheet said.

According to the White House, annualized crypto-asset electricity usage grew by more than 67% from July 2021 to January 2022, and then fell by 17% by August 2022.

“The ability for rapid growth in crypto-asset electricity usage raises concerns about fast increases in electricity usage, and subsequent impacts on consumers and the grid. For example, Texas has emerged as an increasingly attractive location for crypto-asset mining, which uses about 3% of local peak electricity demand. Over the next decade, Texas may see an additional 25 GW of new electricity demand from crypto-asset mining — equivalent to a third of existing peak electricity demand in Texas. This increase raises potential challenges for maintaining electricity reliability.”

In order to support cryptocurrency mining, the property would need to add 3-phase power.

“The addition of power was installing a transformer in conjunction with Idaho Power, ensuring service access that allows the addition of 1200 amperes of 3-phase power to property,” the project description said. “This access is available via unmarked trails around the building that are maintained free of brush, debris, and were chosen to route around any current foliage and trees. Power lines were then trenched from the transformer to the building and ran inside to interior panels and conduits to allow access to mining machines.”

The application said to mitigate fires there would be several CO2 extinguishers on site. 

Another problem residents see is the noise these developments produce. The applicant said that part of the plan is to construct a partial enclosure with three walls and a roof outside the exterior inlet to “redirect sound toward the rear of the property.”

“This along with the air filtration vent already in place will provide adequate dampening of noise,” the application said. “Measurements were taken of machines and fan during stress-test and they measured at ~70dB right by exterior window, ~50dB at 20’ away, and dropping to background levels near the edges of the property.”

Valley County Planning and Zoning will consider the project at a hearing set for December 8 at 6 p.m.

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Autum Robertson - BoiseDev Reporter
Autum Robertson - BoiseDev Reporter
Autum Robertson is a BoiseDev reporter focused on Meridian and McCall. Contact her at [email protected].

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