East Tennessee crypto mining draws community concern

At least eight cryptocurrency mines are operating in eastern Tennessee, in addition to one in southern Kentucky.

NEW TAZEWELL, Tennessee – At night, Mikki Moondream Stump used to hear crickets and birds from the balcony of his Jellico home. Then he said a faint hum began to drown out the peace and quiet of his rural neighborhood.

“I left our big city for that,” he said. “I lived at the airport. I didn’t want that buzz. I didn’t want that distraction.”

She said the distraction comes from a new cryptocurrency mining site next to the old Jellico Motel.

Rows of machines inside gray boxes are working all day to validate Bitcoin transactions.

“I’m sending you a Bitcoin and you’re sending it a Bitcoin. All the machines that are doing it are making sure that yes, that’s a legitimate transaction,” Scott Wade, chief operating officer of Exponential Digital, told a public meeting in February.

Exponential Digital operates the Jellico cryptographic mining site, as well as Tazewell, Oneida, Crossville and Decatur.

The growing presence of mines is raising objections among residents and concerns among elected officials, according to a 10News investigation.

Wade told 10News that questions about the operations required to go to PrimeBlock. PrimeBlock representatives did not respond to our feedback requests.

There are at least three other cryptographic mines in the area: in Maynardville, Knoxville, and the Tri-Cities.

Wade said Exponential Digital is concentrating its cryptocurrency mining operations in the Tennessee Valley Authority region, so many have appeared in East Tennessee.

“This is a new industry that is entering the United States, and our company is helping to facilitate these operations,” Wade said. “We chose TVA for its high reliability and maximum power, and obviously for its rates.”

According to CNET, the first mine to verify a “block” of Bitcoin transactions could earn a reward of about 6.2 Bitcoin, which is worth about $ 225,000. As more Bitcoins are created, the difficulty of verifying transaction “blocks” increases and rewards are halved approximately every 4 years. This is called “halving Bitcoin”.

The first “block” was extracted in 2009 and earned the miner about 50 Bitcoins. The reward for subsequent blocks has been halved in 2012 to 25 Bitcoin, and again in 2016 and 2020.

The supply of Bitcoin is limited to a final limit of 21 million, determined in the source code of the cryptocurrency. The last Bitcoin is expected to pay off in 2140, as the difficulty of producing more becomes more and more difficult over the years and begins to demand more computing power.

Although the mining operation is successful, Claiborne County Mayor Joe Brooks said his community will not benefit.

“Absolutely not. Not a bit of that comes to Claiborne County,” he said. “It will be commercially taxed. Other than that, there is no revenue for the county.”

Brooks said the mine employs a handful of people, though he’s not sure if any of them are local.

He said the Tazewell cryptographic mine can use up to 20 megawatts of energy a year. Studies estimate that the industry as a whole uses as much energy as Argentina.

Fans work 24/7 to prevent electric fires because computer servers run so fast and so fast.

“It’s not something the Claiborne County Volunteer Fire Department is able to handle,” Brooks said. “We do not have the right equipment, without having to cut the switch to put those. [electrical] shoot “.

He said Claiborne County is dependent on tourism for its proximity to Lake Norris. The cryptographic mine is at the top of a hill, visible from the main road on the north road to Tazewell.

“It’s a shame,” the mayor said. “It’s one of those things that when you see it, you’re left with the impression of a beautiful landscape, and then.”

RELATED: Yes, you have to pay taxes on cryptocurrencies

Claiborne County can do nothing to stop the cryptographic mine because it has no zoning laws in place to regulate them.

“You’re dangerous if you do and if you don’t,” Brooks said. “You’re dangerous if you have zoning in place and you’re dangerous if you don’t have it.”

In Campbell County, Mikki Moondream Stump said she feels her community has been disappointed.

People told him there would be jobs, better internet and improved electrical services.

“Well, that didn’t happen,” he said. “You took our land and put this ugly thing in there. It’s just not good for us.”

Bitcoin, the largest and most popular cryptocurrency on the market, is often criticized for being extremely volatile with few federal regulations to protect investors. On May 10, the value of a single Bitcoin was around $ 31,000, down from $ 36,000 the previous Friday.

Experts with Chainalysis, a platform that analyzes blockchain technologies, also said that cryptocurrency crime will reach an all-time high in 2021, with about $ 14 billion in cryptocurrency falling into wallets associated with hackers, fraud and scams.

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