DRESDEN — Two local environmental groups are asking businesses, organizations and individuals to sign a letter urging Gov. Andrew Cuomo to revoke two existing state Department of Environmental Conservation permits issued to Greenidge Generation, as well as denying a new one.
The Penn Yan-based Committee to Preserve the Finger Lakes, and Seneca Lake Guardian of Watkins Glen, have sent emails to “Friends of the Finger Lakes” asking them to sign the letter to the governor electronically. There are separate links for businesses and organizations to sign, as well as one for individuals. The links are https://forms.gle/cre8WD6DcBun3PAU7 for businesses and https://forms.gle/wsxdbX8UCwiZj6HVA for individuals. A copy of the groups’ letter is available to read at either link.
Greenidge’s Connecticut-based owner, Atlas Holdings, has begun to convert the former coal-powered plant to a data storage and bitcoin production facility, using the electricity it generates from burning natural gas to run its computers. Greenidge is seeking to expand by constructing four new buildings that would house computers and cooling systems.
The environmental groups behind the letter to Cuomo maintain the use of 700% more electricity than Greenidge normally consumes is enough power to fuel more than 90,000 homes.
“That’s bigger than two of Amazon’s immense data centers so millionaire private equity guys in Connecticut can generate five bitcoin per day,” the letter states.
The correspondence also notes that Greenidge is using a 67-year-old steam turbine that operates at 35% efficiency “and should have been retired decades ago.” Modern turbines operate at 65% efficiency, the letter stated.
Throughout the regulatory process, Greenidge officials have maintained their plan meets all state, federal and local standards.
The letter lists these reasons for opposing the proposed expansion:
• It’s bad for the climate. The letter tells the governor that the plant will emit tons of greenhouse gases annually because it is set to operate “behind the meter” and won’t be considered in Cuomo’s Climate Leaedrship and Community Protection Act, which limits statewide greenhouse gas emissions to 40% of 1990 levels by 2030 and 85% by 2050.
• It’s bad for the Keuka Outlet. The groups claim the plant will discharge water at up to 108 degrees into the Keuka Outlet, a major tributary to Seneca Lake. The temperature limits for trout streams, like the outlet, is 70 degrees. The higher temperature water stresses and kills trout and other cold-water fish.
• It’s bad for Seneca Lake. The groups claim the hot water will increase incidences of harmful algal blooms. The system also is said to not be using protective measures to prevent fish, eggs and other aquatic life from being killed at the water intake location in Seneca Lake.
• It’s bad for the Finger Lakes economy. The damage to the ecosystem also will damage the region’s agri-tourism industry. The claim the plant will increase noise levels, create very few jobs, and will generate little revenue for the local communities.
• It’s not necessary. The groups claims that 60% to 70% of all bitcoin mining is done in China, and the Chinese are considering banning the activity as a waste of resources.