As cryptocurrency continues to become a profitable venture, more and more established companies are dipping into the digital bank. In a miraculous marriage of old tech and new tech, a historic power plant in Mechanicville, New York is joining in.
Reported by The Albany Times Union, New York's 124-year-old hydroelectric plant has got a new side hustle. While still providing power to the masses, the Mechanicville Hydroelectric Plant is also mining bitcoin.
Mechanicville Bitcoin Mining
Operated by Albany Engineering, the Mechanicville Hydroelectric Plant is estimated to be one of the world's oldest renewable energy facilities still running. While the plant was almost in continuous operation since 1897, a recent rebuild culled its long-running streak.
Speaking to Times Union, CEO of Albany Engineering Corp. Jim Besha Sr., explained that the old machinery the plant is powered by doesn't yield much profit. However, by using a fraction of power to mine and sell bitcoin cryptocurrency, they're able to make a far greater profit.
“We can actually make more money with bitcoin than selling the electricity to National Grid," Besha said.
At the time of writing, the hydroelectric plant makes 3 cents per kilowatt power sold. In comparison, mining bitcoin at its current values makes at least three times as much.
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With the news that the Mechanicville Hydroelectric Plant is mining bitcoin, many would assume that the Renewable Energy plant is harming the environment. Besha is keen to express that all of the company's bitcoin is mined using power from the plant’s green energy turbines.
“It’s the best (type of bitcoin mining) because we’re using renewable energy,” Besha said. “We’re just doing it on the side, experimenting with it. We're buying used servers."
Of course, somewhere through the blockchain, non-green energy will be used to keep the sold bitcoin in circulation. However, Besha's efforts to keep bitcoin clean are better than some.
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Betrayed by the National Grid.
The Mechanicville Hydroelectric Plant’s turn to cryptocurrency is due to a harsh betrayal by the National Grid. Initially, the plant was supposed to be preserved by the National Grid in a 40-year deal to keep buying power. However, the company quickly turned around with plans to dismantle the facility instead.
“National Grid called me up the next day and said, we’re not going to honor this contract. And if you don’t like it, take it to the judge... As a business, it didn’t make sense to operate something that was that dated. They were very cost-prohibitive to run. They were old technology.”
Eventually, Besha would get the National Grid to pay market rate for power following a court case. However, the future still looked bleak for the aging plant, especially after it required huge repairs in the early 2000s. While the location is now protected as part of the National Register of Historic Places, it's not completely safe.
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