According to the aforementioned article, the county is already used to hosting a substantial crypto mining industry. Crypto miners have been attracted to various central Washington counties due to their access to cheap hydroelectricity-generated power; however, the mining boom has reportedly busted in 2018, after the market downturn.
The Seattle Times writes that local officials hope that blockchain can power a less volatile industry. The article cites Lisa Parks, executive director of the Port of Douglas County, as declaring:
“There is more to the [cryptocurrency] story than the boom and the bust.”
The Douglas County Department of Commerce is set to contribute $50,000 in a grant to the creation of the blockchain innovation campus.
The previously rich cryptocurrency-related local activity has left the county with abundant high-speed computing and crypto expertise, which, coupled with the local cheap power access, constitutes an advantage for developing such technology, according to The Seattle Times. Perks reportedly declared:
“We have some unique assets that make our region appealing to that industry. […] Let’s figure out a way to capitalize on it.”
Not all of central Washington’s counties have been so friendly towards the industry. As Cointelegraph reported in November last year, central Washington’s Chelan County Public Utility District (PUD) has proposed a new electricity pricing structure for cryptocurrency miners meant to pass down the cost of increased electricity demand.
Also, in April last year, news broke that Chelan PUD commissioners ordered staff to enforce a moratorium on cryptocurrency mining following the discovery of unauthorized mining activities.
The city of Ephrata, Washington, also reportedly halted new crypto mining developments in the city for the 12 months following October last year. On the other hand, Douglas County reportedly didn’t increase power prices for new miners as sharply, looking forward to developing the industry.
In November 2018, leading cryptocurrency mining and mining ASIC producer Bitmain reportedly opened a $20 million mining facility in Douglas County, which will use 12 megawatts of electricity. This amount of power, according to the article, is enough to power anywhere from 1,500 to 4,800 homes.
According to the article, this trend continued even after major crypto mining and blockchain firm Giga Watt had filed for bankruptcy in November 2018, allegedly owing the Douglas County Public Utility District more than $310,000.
The port of Douglas County, which owns the Giga Watt facilities, is reportedly now in talks with several investor groups about using the facilities for mining or other computing-intensive applications like data analytics or artificial intelligence (AI).