Thursday, February 22, 2024

PUD Board sets new fees an charges for unauthorized crypto miners

Amnesty will be available to operators who shut down and notify PUD before May 14


WENATCHEE – 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 and 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.

PUD, crypto, bitcoin, charges, Chelan, county


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