DRESDEN — An effort is underway to remove two applications from Greenidge Generation LLC related to its bitcoin or cryptocurrency operations from the state Public Service Commission’s meeting agenda Thursday.
Greenidge owns and operates the former coal-powered plant on the west shore of Seneca Lake. It now uses natural gas to generate electricity that powers turbines and lake water for cooling the operations inside.
In March, the company announced it would add data-processing equipment for a bitcoin-mining operation at the plant.
It is seeking PSC approval to use unmetered electricity from the plant for bitcoin operations and to remove the bitcoin mining and data center from more rigorous PSC regulations.
Seneca Lake Guardian, a Watkins Glen-based group dedicated to the water quality of the largest of the Finger Lakes, is urging people to write to the PSC to ask that they take the Greenidge applications off Thursday’s agenda until more research can be done on the impacts of the permits being sought.
Many Seneca Lake Guardian members and supporters are submitting statements that say PSC approval of the permits “could set precedent for other old generating stations with harmful once-through cooling systems to do the same thing.” They claim the operations described in Greenidge’s applications “don’t match the operations described in Greenidge’s March 5 and April 10 press releases.”
“To the PSC, Greenidge is classifying itself as a tenant. Conversely, Greenidge’s press releases reveal that Greenidge Generation LLC is now a world-class blockchain mining facility with an in-house gas fueled power plant. We feel that Greenidge’s claim of tenancy is misleading and being used in order to achieve their goal of ramping up operations,” the group stated.
The group said it is concerned that Greenidge failed to file information about its bitcoin operations with the PSC and should have waited for PSC approval before starting its bitcoin operations on March 5.
They also expressed concern about Greenidge having a permit to withdraw up to 139.2 million gallons of water a day from the lake, the largest water-withdrawing industry on the lake. Seneca Lake Guardian says the company has not installed proper fish protection equipment, and noted the water discharged back into the lake after internal cooling is 108 degrees, increasing the likelihood of harmful algal blooms.
“If they expand their operations, all of these issues will become exacerbated. This must not happen,” they stated.
They said the lake is the source of drinking water for more than 100,000 people and lessening of water quality could hit the already hard-hit fishing and agri-tourism industries even harder. They asked the PSC to require Greenidge to convert to a closed-cycle cooling system before ramping up bitcoin and electricity generation operations.
On March 5, Greenidge announced it has added a “unique, one-of-a-kind’’ center for digital currencies and other hosting applications to its power generation site in Dresden. The $65 million investment includes a fully integrated, behind the meter cryptocurrency mining operation, making it a “unique and ideal” location for the mining and maintaining of digital currencies such as Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash.
The company touted an experienced team of cryptocurrency experts and power plant operators, access to the cheapest natural gas in the country through its connection to the Empire Pipeline System, ideal climate conditions for digital currency mining a majority of the year, strategic partnerships with the local community and premier hardware manufacturing and mining pools.
On April 10, Greenidge announced the sale of 106 Petahash of computing power to an undisclosed buyer in the bitcoin industry.
Found in 1937, Greenidge is now a wholly-owned subsidiary of Connecticut-based Atlas Holdings LLC.
To submit comments to the PSC, the links are: