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Plattsburgh City Council Considers Lifting Cryptocurrency Moratorium

Plattsburgh Common Council 2019
Pat Bradley/WAMC
Plattsburgh Common Council 2019

An update now to a story we’ve been following for months: the Plattsburgh Common Council has tabled a resolution that would lift a moratorium on new cryptocurrency mining operations within the city.
In March 2018 the city of Plattsburgh was the first community anywhere to bar new cryptocurrency operations. The city’s low electric rates had been luring the new industry but the surge of electricity needs ran over the city’s quota and ratepayers began to see higher bills.  

The 18-month moratorium can be lifted at any time. Ward 5 Councilor Patrick McFarlin has offered a resolution that notes the goals of mitigating and minimizing surcharges and creation of zoning regulations, fire suppression requirements, heat controls, noise limits and nuisance abatement have been established. The resolution concludes that “…the purpose of the Commercial Cryptocurrency Mining Operation Moratorium … have been fulfilled…”

But some councilors are reticent about lifting the moratorium until a new noise ordinance is passed.  At Thursday’s meeting, Ward 4 Independent Peter Ensel said there have been continued complaints about the grandfathered cryptocurrency operations.  “Some councilors have even gone down into the neighborhoods where the cryptocurrencies are operating and there is a buzz, a hum, throughout the night. The machinery is very loud especially during the summer months when there’s open access and so on.  So it becomes a quality of life issue as far as I’m concerned with people living in and about the area where they’re operating.”   

Ward 6 Democrat Jeff Moore is crafting the new noise ordinance.  “We’re at a point where we have enough information to go forward with a local law to deal with the noise. So I think everything is moving forward and we want to have everything done before we move forward.”

If the council waits until a noise ordinance is in place it will be at least three weeks before the moratorium can be lifted.  Rather than remove the resolution and reintroduce it later McFarlin prefers it remain on the agenda.  “Sometimes the council will forget things if it’s not on the agenda. So I wanted it to be addressed because the last time we passed our local law addressing the issue was I think October 25th.  So we were coming on a few months there where there hasn’t been any movement on this issue. Actually I’m glad I brought it forward because in the last two weeks there has been quite a lot of movement on that issue. So even though the moratorium still stands that doesn’t bother me in the least. I’m not a strong advocate for getting rid of the moratorium or anything like that. But I wanted the discussion to be brought up and I love that the council is discussing these things and I would love for a noise ordinance to get pushed through. So I’m happy.”

Plattsburgh councilors unanimously tabled the resolution to lift the cryptocurrency moratorium.

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