The Times - Serving Waitsburg, Dayton and the Touchet Valley

By Michele Smith
The Times 

Bitcoin Mining Center Proposed Near Dayton

Concerns about infrastructure were expressed at public information meeting

 


DAYTON--Leonard Ruff, the architect responsible for building data processing centers in Quincy, Wenatchee, and in Douglas County, was on hand at a community information meeting last week to discuss a Bitcoin mining center being planned near Dayton.

Columbia REA has signed a contract with Eastern Mineland LLC, of Bellevue, Wash., for its Bitcoin operation to be located next to the CREA substation on Patit Road, which is in a light industrial zone.

The company is attracted to Dayton because of its access to green energy provided by the wind turbines, and is in keeping with their commitment to be “eco-conscious,” said Ruff.

Ruff said the company proposes to start operations here with twenty, 20-foot or 40-foot modular units. Each unit will be equipped with all necessary infrastructure, and the units will be placed on concrete foundations.

Some data mining centers require enormous amounts of power, but this will have no noisy diesel generators, and will run on auxiliary power, said Ruff.

Dan Andrews, CREA Energy Information and Member Services Supervisor, said his company has the capacity to provide power to the facility, and will initially provide 10 million gigawatts.

“The client will pay a negotiated contract rate for that power,” said Andrews. That rate falls under CREA’s criteria for their large consumers, but is a special rate, he said.

After October, 2019, Eastern Mineland, LLC will be free to go out on the market and purchase power. Their option depends on what the Bonneville Power Administration does with their rate, he said.

Andrews said Eastern Mineland LLC will pay for all of the infrastructure.

“This will be a good thing,” said Andrews. “This will help flatten out those rates for the rest of our membership. This will hold those future rates from possibly going up, or to mitigate them.”

The contract also requires Eastern Mineland LLC to make prepayments to CREA ahead of any work they do, he said.

He said as long as the Bitcoin mining operation is here, CREA is going to make a profit, which will come back to the co-op and that the members will be completely protected from risk.

Dayton Public Works Director Jim Costello quoted from a company report provided to the city indicating water use will be 1,080 gallons of water per day, per unit.

Ruff said the units will run on a water evaporative cooling system and water consumption will depend on the time of year, with more water needed as the temperature rises above 75 degrees, and dropping to low, or no, water needed during the winter months, and also at night, as the temperatures drop.

The water that remains after the evaporative process will be recycled back into the system, he said.

Dayton Mayor Craig George said large volumes of water returning to the city’s wastewater treatment plant won’t be an issue as it has been built to handle large volumes.

“Getting it there could be,” he said.

George said there is a conglomeration of sewer lines, some owned by the county, and some owned by the city, at the location of the proposed site. He said the best thing would be to have a new sewer line running from the Bitcoin facility to a manhole line which is at the far end of Seneca Foods, Inc. underneath the bridge on Hwy 12.

Ruff said no permanent jobs will be created from the Bitcoin operation, apart from having a couple of managers, in a rented office space. He thought there would be some sales tax, and property tax revenue.

“We count jobs by ones and twos, in Dayton,” said Jennie Dickinson, Executive Director of the Port of Columbia.

Dickinson said she is fairly neutral about the proposal, from an economic development standpoint.

Economic Development Coordinator Kathryn Witherington said, “I do want Columbia County to be pro-business, pro new ideas, so I am glad we are having this discussion, and I hope we can move forward with openness, at least to the idea, even if it ends up not being worked out.”

County Planning Director Meagan Bailey said the application from Eastern Mineland LLC is incomplete and there are numerous items missing, including “will-serve” letters from all utility providers.

Bailey said she accepted the application based on talks with Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Dale Slack about proposed use.

While the proposed use seems to “fit” zoning criteria, the application can be denied if there are too many unknowns that can’t be mitigated for in that particular zone, she said.

 

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