Wyoming lawmakers are reportedly set to mull special deregulated zones for large scale energy consumers such as bitcoin miners next week.
Two draft bills on the table would make room for a framework to provide cheap electricity to bitcoin miners (and other power-hungry facilities such as data centers), while protecting regular folk from price spikes due to surging usage, local outlet WyoFile reported.
One bill, focused on “industrial power zones,” would specifically award regulatory exemptions on power consumed in designated areas.
The other, “direct electric utility service agreements,” would instead seek to allow power companies to strike deals outside of existing pricing regulations — regardless of where in the state they operate.
Both bills are sponsored by Wyoming’s Joint Minerals, Business and Economic Development Interim Committee, a bipartisan group within the state legislature with ties to major players across Wyoming’s energy industry.
Wyoming has reportedly received a steady stream of requests from dozens of bitcoin miners eager to set up shop across the state. A series of pro-crypto laws related to banking and incorporation has spurred interest, but Wyoming’s halfway-cheap electricity hasn’t been enough to convince bitcoin mining outfits to jump.
The average retail price for electricity in Wyoming is 8.27 cents per kilowatt hour, per the US Energy Information Administration, while the national US average is $10.59.
Such a difference results from significant consumers such as oil plants and strip mines actually paying higher rates than regular consumers, bringing down the overall shared cost of the whole Wyoming grid.
More bitcoin miners in Wyoming could bring higher state revenues
This shared-cost system, however, discourages energy-intensive operators, such as bitcoin miners, from moving to Wyoming.
The state also exports more than half of the energy it generates, according to WyoFile, and the draft bills up for discussion don’t specifically encourage creation of new power generation facilities.
Sen. Chris Rothfuss told reporters this has led to missed revenue from state coffers, as Wyoming earns taxes on every kilowatt hour consumed on the local grid — not on energy exported.
There are, though, concerns over whether Wyoming’s grid could handle an influx of bitcoin miners interested in taking advantage of potential deregulation. Texas’ deregulated ecosystem struggled under pressure throughout the summer, and deals with bitcoin miners were made to power down in times of peak demand.
The Wyoming Rural Electric Association, representing 14 energy co-ops in the state, reportedly opposes both bills. Not to mention, the largest regulated local utilities — one of which is already contracted with bitcoin mining outfit Bison Blockchain —- aren’t completely sold.
A similar measure discussed by lawmakers in the previous session, “deregulated industrial power zones,” ultimately failed.