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Upstate New York has – in recent weeks and months – become something of a popular region for bitcoin and cryptocurrency miners, though it looks like one town called Massena isn’t too happy about the sudden influx of operations. The city’s electric company appears to be charging residents higher rates, and many residents say it’s because the city is host to too many mining firms. However, the company is claiming that this is simply due to cold weather, and everyone has their heaters going.
Massena Is Paying More for Electricity
Massena Electric Department superintendent Andrew J. McMahon explained in a recent town board meeting:
The answer is no. It’s not affecting the bill. There is one cryptocurrency operation that Massena Electric feeds and that has no impact on the customer’s bill. They pay all incremental costs for the energy they consume. Then, there’s a much larger operation at the old Reynolds plant, the Alcoa East plant. They are buying directly from the grid as I understand it. They haven’t been really clear with us, but their load is much higher than anything we could serve, as I understand it.
Instead, he says that people need to blame their high energy bills on the ultra-cold January the city went through. He commented:
We get those calls all the time. If you look at the FAQ document, midway on the right, there’s the history of the PPAC (purchase power adjustment charge) graph.
He said the same thing happened in 2014, a time when the city was extremely cold and suffered from hazardous snow and similar weather. He says that January of 2022 was no different, and thus residents shouldn’t be too surprised – especially if they haven’t moved in the last eight years. He said:
It was just brutally cold this past year. In January, we had 20 days below zero as opposed to the previous two years where I think it was four or five days below zero. So, we had a lot of cold weather.
He also said that Massena Electric saw increases in the amount it paid for supplemental water:
The past few years, we have been paying $20 per megawatt for supplemental power. We were paying $100 a megawatt this past January. So, that cost rolls through to the consumer eventually.
Low on Water?
He mentioned that this ultimately contributed to the high energy bills residents faced as Massena exceeded its total allocation from the New York Power Authority. He commented:
It made for some high bills, and we got a lot of calls. Jeff (Dobbins, MED treasurer) and the staff did very well with them. I think it says in the FAQ this wasn’t a localized Massena issue. This was across the northeastern U.S. There were high gas prices from Minnesota to Maine. It was really cold for four or five weeks.