Residents living near Seneca Lake in upstate New York are becoming increasingly concerned about the environmental impact of a gas-fired power plant in the area used primarily to run a bitcoin mining operation, according to a report from NBC News.
The power plant that sits on the shore of the lake is owned by private equity firm Atlas Holdings and is operated by Greenidge Generation. Atlas acquired the coal-fired plant in 2014, years after it shut down, and converted it to a natural gas facility that resumed operations in 2017, according to NBC News.
While the plant was primarily used to generate energy during periods of high demand, Greenidge started using the plant to power bitcoin mining in 2019 and has been ramping up operations over the last year and a half. Bitcoin mining, which is how new bitcoins are released into circulation, requires complex computer systems and large amounts of computational power that uses a lot of electricity.
NBC reports the plant houses at least 8,000 computers and the company plans to install more.
Some residents have blamed the operation for increasing the temperature of the lake, which the power plant uses water from in order to cool off its operation. Protesters demonstrated against the plant at a nearby Department of Environmental Conservation office last month.
The facility is allowed to take in 139 million gallons of water daily and discharge 135 million gallons back into the lake. According to NBC News, the temperatures of the water going back into Lake Seneca can be as hot as 108 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer and 86 degrees in winter.
“The lake is so warm you feel like you’re in a hot tub,” Abi Buddington, who lives near the power plant in Dresden, told the news outlet.
A full study on whether the plant is impacting the temperature of the lake will be carried out by 2023.
Emissions from the facility are also on the rise, according to the report. While the plant was operating at just 13 percent of its capacity, it produced 243,103 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions at the end of 2020, up from 28,301 tons in January, according to NBC News. The plant generated emissions of 119,304 tons in 2019 and 39,406 tons in 2019, the outlet reports.
Greenidge told NBC News the plant was operating within its environmental permits and “the environmental impact of the plant has never been better than it is right now.”
The company said it is buying carbon credits intended to offset the plant’s emissions and the operation will soon be carbon neutral.
Via; The hill