Angry operators resulted to heightened security

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Photo by Travis Saylor

Because of their fear of angry Bitcoin mining operators who are being shut down, the Chelan County Public Utility District (PUD) in Washington heightened its security.

As some countries crack down on Bitcoin mining, operators are taken to look for a better opportunities. The main concern was to pay the cheapest possible for electricity because of the high demands for mining. Some are overwhelmed by the increased demand and are shutting down some operations, which angered the affected miners.

The Chelan County (PUD) found that their system was being heavily constrained by Bitcoin mining.

Commissioners declared a suspension on this activity which happened in March.

In April, commissioners authorized the staff of the PUD to take action in several ways against miners.

They had the authority to immediately disconnect an account from the system. Then, they placed a fine on the found violators of the suspension ranging up to $6,150 for in-home operations and $11,400 for commercial operations.

Although legally problematic, violators could now be charged with power theft even with the existing amnesty that could take effect if a miner shuts down his operation and reported it to PUD.

As the Chelan County PUD took place, the county had 22 approved high-density load customers. The PUD also had applications from 19 more Bitcoin mining operators, which would have required about 16.3 megawatts in total. Besides those accounts, the public utility district found 28 unauthorized mining operations, of which 19 have been shut down. However, the district is finding that three more unauthorized operations are popping up each week.

According to PUD, it is a difficult situation for them that lot of miners are not happy about their current situation as a number of miners have reported.

“PUD employees in the field and those in the office who are handling issues related to high-density load service have encountered an increasing number of upset customers and potential customers. In some cases, people can get agitated and argumentative. Our goal always is to provide excellent customer service, as well as to keep customers, the public and employees safe, especially when emotions may be running high,” a PUD spokesperson said.

He also added that the number of requests changed the interaction of the staff with the customers.

“The volume of requests and the sense of urgency by applicants has changed the dynamics of the interaction by staff with the cryptocurrency customers,” he said.

In dealing with the threat posed by angered Bitcoin mining operators, the Chelan County PUD are doing the following measures:

  • Building a small, secure lobby for new services that will cost $20,000.
  • Add ballistic panels and more cameras to the lobby of PUD headquarters.
  • Make an assessment of two PUD office locations to see what extra security measures may be needed.
  • Increase the visibility of uniformed security staff.
  • Train security staff to look for negative body language to determine if a person is agitated (and potentially dangerous).
  • Train PUD staff on when to call security for help.

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