Recently, an overdramatized story by Gretchen Morgenson of NBC News, about the Greenidge power plant and cryptocurrency mining hybrid on Seneca Lake, New York, went viral. The story blames bitcoin mining for “ruining” the 12,000-year-old glacial Seneca Lake.
The story focused on a quote by Abi Buddington of Dresden, whose house is near the plant and who was quoted as saying, “The lake is so warm you feel like you’re in a hot tub.” The story went on to blame the economics of bitcoin for bringing the plant online and effectively boiling the entire lake. There’s just one problem: The account and story are both largely false and embellished.
Before debunking the claims, it’s worth pointing out that the locals have legitimate concerns with how the Greenidge plant’s outflow pipe is discharging water into a canal that flows into Keuka Lake Outlet. Local environmental groups are monitoring the canal and water near the outlet. Greenidge and the local residents should, and will, deal with those concerns appropriately. However, activist journalists using overexaggeration and deceit on a global scale to increase clicks is not a decent way to bring attention to local activism.
It’s important to clarify that the plant’s activities are all within the limits set by its permits from the DEC and EPA, which determine how much water the plant can withdraw and discharge and at what temperatures, as well as the plant’s emissions limits. If there are any disputes about this, they are best handled through the appropriate channels.
Greenidge was built in 1937 as a coal plant. It was dormant from 2011 until May 2017, when Atlas Holdings converted it to natural gas. In 2019, the plant began pilot testing for bitcoin mining and launched mining services in January 2020. The new facility has a capacity of 22 megawatts (MW) in its first phase and up to 106 MW after completion of all phases. The plant sells electricity to the regional grid when it’s profitable to do…