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New York Hydroelectric Power Plant to Power Bitcoin Mining

2 mins
Updated by Ryan Boltman
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In Brief

  • Energy from a historically-preserved hydroelectric power plant in Mechanicville, New York, will now be used to power Bitcoin.
  • Albany Engineering Corp. makes three times as much producing bitcoin than selling to the National Grid.
  • The plant’s operators have a complex historical relationship with the National Grid.
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Energy from a historically-preserved hydroelectric power plant in Mechanicville, New York, will now be used to power Bitcoin.

However, because the power plant retains most of its 19th century machinery, it’s not capable of producing too much electricity. This is fine for operator Albany Engineering Corp., who is now using some of the plant’s energy to produce bitcoin.

“We can actually make more money with bitcoin than selling the electricity to the National Grid,” according to Jim Besha Sr., CEO of Albany Engineering Corp. While Albany Engineering Corp. can sell $0.03 per kilowatt-hour to the National Grid, mining Bitcoin makes 3 times that much. Besha remarked that it is the best kind of Bitcoin mining, “because we’re using renewable energy.” 

Rather than holding Bitcoin, Besha converts the thousandths of a bitcoin they make each week to cash. Overall, he’s skeptical of bitcoin as a long-term investment and is just doing it for the cash. Ultimately, He’d like to make more money selling renewable energy to be used as energy. But this has proven difficult over the past few years of history between the two companies.

Issues with the National Grid

The plant was built in 1892 and had only been updated once in 1915. In 1986, the National Grid asked Albany Engineering Corp. to refurbish and operate the plant. “Preserve it,” Besha says he told them. “They said, we’ll lease the plant to you and buy the power for 40 years.” They signed a contract to start the preservation work, while also applying for an independent license to operate the plant. 

However, the National Grid’s plans for the plant changed in the intervening years, and they decided they would tear it down instead. However, ​​in 1986, Besha for the plant listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The ensuing litigation lasted long enough for the plant to remain standing and receive renovation.

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Nicholas Pongratz
Nick is a data scientist who teaches economics and communication in Budapest, Hungary, where he received a BA in Political Science and Economics and an MSc in Business Analytics from CEU. He has been writing about cryptocurrency and blockchain technology since 2018, and is intrigued by its potential economic and political usage.
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