cryptocurrency | KNKX

cryptocurrency

In the last few years, rock-bottom electricity rates have attracted bitcoin miners and other virtual currency entrepreneurs to central Washington state. But in Chelan and Grant counties, that lure may be on the wane because of looming power price hikes.


When the price of one bitcoin soared to almost $20,000 late last year, an influx of entrepreneurs and developers came to the Pacific Northwest in search of cheap hydropower to do bitcoin "mining."

But now cities, counties and utilities at the epicenter in central Washington are hitting the pause button. The cryptocurrency businesses bring tech jobs—but they are also electricity hogs.

A public utility in north central Washington state wants to root out a new kind of outlaw: the rogue bitcoin miner.

A quartet of young companies from the Seattle area have raised tens of millions of dollars by tapping into a hot tech trend. They've invented new virtual currencies and sold digital coins to the public.

These token sales are largely unregulated and are sparking increasingly frequent government warnings.

The price of bitcoin set another new all-time high Wednesday, shooting past $13,000. The meteoric rise in the value of bitcoin and lesser known virtual currencies is having a real world effect in the Pacific Northwest.

Entrepreneurs are bombarding the public utilities in Central Washington with requests for cheap hydropower to run bitcoin computers.