July 23, 2019

July 23, 2019

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July 22, 2019

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Blockchain Energizer – Volume 25

CRYPTOCURRENCY MINERS FACE MOUNTING RESISTANCE TO ENERGY DEMANDS IN THE UNITED STATES AND CANADA.

  • On March 15th, the New York State Public Service Commission (“NYPSC”) announced that upstate municipal power authorities could increase electricity rates for cryptocurrency miners. By raising rates on cryptocurrency miners (more specifically defined as “high-density load customers that do no qualify for economic development assistance and have a maximum demand exceeding 300 kW [kilowatts] and a load density that exceeds 250 kWh [kilowatt hours] per square foot per year”) the NYPSC argued it is protecting existing residential and commercial customers from substantial energy price increases. NYPSC Chairman John Rhodes noted that the decision was particularly important for rural communities given the scarcity of affordable power available to them. According to Chairman Rhodes, cryptocurrency miners use nearly four times the amount of electricity per square foot basis as a large paper manufacturer, yet do not create many jobs or inject capital into communities.
  • Cryptocurrency miners are also facing resistance in Washington state and Quebec, Canada. Chelan County, Washington, recently placed a second moratorium on power applications from cryptocurrency miners until May 14. Like the NYPSC, Chelan County implemented the moratorium due to an already significant increase in demand from the county’s twenty-two existing cryptocurrency miners, which has resulted in rising electricity usage and costs, and increasing strain on the County’s power grid. The number of cryptocurrency miners applying for power in the first quarter of 2018 was almost equal to the number of miners who applied for power in all of 2017. As previously reportedHydro-Quebec was considering whether to increase rates on cryptocurrency miners. Now, the utility is instead temporarily rejecting energy applications from cryptocurrency miners. Quebec’s Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources also expressed concern that powering cryptocurrency miners will overtax energy intended for residential homes.
  • Across the Atlantic, the European Union’s (“EU”) Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society has taken the opposite view. Commissioner Gabriel released a statement clarifying that there is no legal basis on which to limit electricity to cryptocurrency miners, provided they are complying with the law. Miners are still subject to the EU’s regulations covering energy efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions, among others.
  • Cryptocurrency miners have historically migrated to locales with low-cost energy sources, particularly renewable energy, to minimize their operating costs. Canada and parts of the U.S. have become popular destinations for miners. These recent developments, however, may indicate a growing resistance to cryptocurrency miners from utilities and their regulators.

LO3 ENERGY WILL LAUNCH A BLOCKCHAIN-BASED RENEWABLE ENERGY TRADING PLATFORM IN SOUTHERN AUSTRALIA.

  • As we have previously reportedLO3 Energy, which developed the Brooklyn Microgrid, is partnering with Yates Electrical Services (“Yates”) to create a blockchain-based solar energy trading platform in Paringa, Australia. The region is experiencing increased electricity prices, despite its abundant supply of wind and solar energy. To bring prices down, L03 Energy will develop a blockchain-based trading platform on which Yates will sell solar energy from its thirty (30) solar farms and other solar resources owned by other power providers. To date, over a dozen companies have agreed to participate.
  • According to LO3, Australia is an attractive environment because its government has a progressive policy on integrating renewable energy into its energy markets. As a result, LO3 will include services such as battery storage and incorporate Internet of Things devices to improve demand-side response.
  • Despite Australia’s forward-facing perspective, businesses and consumers cannot currently bypass retailers for their energy needs. Energy generators like Yates, however, can obtain a retailer exemption that allows them to sell energy to commercial customers directly.

INTERNATIONAL ENERGY RESEARCH CENTRE PLANS TO DEVELOP A PEER-TO-PEER ENERGY TRADING PLATFORM.

ELIA, BELGIUM’S TRANSMISSION SYSTEM OPERATOR, TO EXPLORE BLOCKCHAIN.

  • Elia has issued a request for information from blockchain software developers as it considers using blockchain to improve demand response services. Specifically, Elia is exploring the feasibility of automating various demand response processes through blockchain-based applications to more effectively balance Belgium’s energy grid. The proposed blockchain application would focus initially on registration, data verification, measurement, and settlement of the assets in its tertiary reserve. Over time, however, Elia plans to scale up the blockchain beyond demand response so it can automate these processes for more frequently used balancing products.
  • The company also hopes to expand the number of energy providers in the flexibility market. The application will operate on Tobalaba, which as previously reported, is the alpha phase of the Energy Web Foundation’s (“EWF”) proprietary blockchain network. Elia has also become and affiliate of EWF, which has created one of the largest energy blockchain consortiums in the world, and continues to move forward with a number of pilot programs.

There is a lot of buzz around blockchain technology and its potential to revolutionize a wide range of industries from finance and health care to real estate and supply chain management. Reports estimate that over $4.5 billion was invested in blockchain startups in 2017 alone, and many institutions and companies are forming partnerships to explore how blockchain ledgers and smart contracts can be deployed to manage and share data, create transactional efficiencies, and reduce costs. 

 

Copyright 2019 K & L Gates

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About this Author

Buck B. Endemann, KL Gates, energy infrastructure lawyer, remediation projects attorney
Partner

Buck Endemann is a partner in the firm’s San Francisco office, where he is a member of the energy practice group. He provides comprehensive counseling on energy, infrastructure and remediation projects, including advice on air, water and waste compliance issues, and represents clients in related litigation. 

Mr. Endemann has extensive experience on the commercial, land use, and regulatory aspects of renewable energy and infrastructure projects throughout the Western United States, with an emphasis on California. He has a particular expertise...

415-882-8016
Benjamin Tejblum, KL Gates Law Firm, Energy Law Attorney
Associate

Benjamin Tejblum is an associate in the firm’s Washington, D.C. office and focuses his practice on energy and infrastructure projects and transactions. Mr. Tejblum’s clients include electric utilities, electric transmission owners, independent power producers, power marketers, and public utility holding companies that are active in the electricity markets in the United States. Mr. Tejblum regularly represents clients before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and has counseled clients on matters involving mergers and acquisitions, interconnection procedures and agreements, transmission rates and cost allocation, and market-based sales of energy. Mr. Tejblum also counsels energy start-up companies on a variety of regulatory matters.

202-778-9129
Daniel Cohen, KL Gates Law Firm, Washington DC, Finance Law Attorney
Associate

Daniel Cohen is a first year associate in the Washington, D.C. office.

Admitted only in Virginia / Not Admitted in D.C.
Supervised by Soyong Cho, member of D.C. Bar

202-778-9020