A customer-owned utilities company in rural Washington has stopped accepting applications for electricity from crypto mining and similar blockchain operations, the Seattle Times reported July 30.

The Franklin Public Utility District commissioners (PUD) have approved a moratorium that will allow time for staff to investigate the impact of cryptocurrency mining on the electrical system before accepting applications. The PUD staff will also consider a new rate structure.

While initially drawn to rural Washington and New York by cheap electricity, miners are increasingly falling under the scrutiny of local regulators and power utilities, who are concerned about long term power supply for residents and other businesses.

In April, another rural Washington public utility, Chelan PUD, ordered staff to enforce a moratorium on crypto mining with the discovery of unauthorized mining activities, becoming concerned with the state and safety of electricity systems. The enforcement measures included fines and penalties, disconnecting service, “reporting unauthorized loads to law enforcement as power theft”, and “firing officials to protect public safety.”

Earlier this month, New York state regulators approved a new electricity rate scheme for cryptocurrency miners that will allow them to negotiate contracts. The decision gives 36 municipal power authorities permission to charge crypto miners more than other consumers. The Massena municipal utility will consider contracts and set prices on a case-by-case basis for crypto miners who are interested in conducting operations there, which reportedly will protect other utility customers from increased rates.   

Some local authorities have been more welcoming of crypto mining operations. In April, Port of Walla Walla, Washington commissioners unanimously agreed on a land lease and purchase option for 10 acres to be used for a cryptocurrency mining project by Bitmain subsidiary Ant Creek LLC.  While the main concern of opponents to the project is the massive amount of electricity that the company will consume, the project meets the Port’s mission of job and tax base creation.

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