The cheap hydro-electric power produced by the St Lawrence River, on the US-Canadian border, has attracted Bitcoin miners. Image: NASA

Bitcoin miners are not just changing the energy usage patterns in the upstate New York city of Plattsburgh. They are also changing the “character and direction” of the city, reports Bloomberg.

This old-world city close to the Canadian border has, over the last few decades, become a popular tourist destination for people from Quebec that are attracted to the area’s Francophile roots. In recent months the cheap electricity courtesy of the St. Lawrence River has also attracted crypto-miners and in December and January, they allegedly used up all of the City’s electricity quota which meant price hikes for residents.

“It is the purpose of this local law to facilitate the adoption of land use and zoning and/or municipal lighting department regulations to protect and enhance the city’s natural, historic, cultural and electrical resources,” the Plattsburgh city council announced after holding a public hearing on the issue last week.

The ban, that is initially in the form of an 18-month moratorium, comes just as New York State Public Service Commission has announced utility regulation changes that will allow power companies to charge higher rates to crypto-currency mining operations “to prevent local electricity prices for existing residential and business customers from skyrocketing.”

The high energy consumption of the super-computers that are used to tackle the complex mathematical problems inherent in Bitcoins and other crypto-currency “mining” has become a growing global problem. One estimate claims Bitcoin mines now consume more power than 159 countries combined.

According to the New York State Public Service Commission, crypto-currency mining operations are using “thousands of times” more power than average upstate residential customers.

So back to tourism then.

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