A Wyoming Energy Supplier Wants to Make Electricity Cheaper for Blockchain Companies

Companies that engage in cryptocurrency mining are notoriously power hungry. In an attempt to attract them, Black Hills Corporation, an energy provider operating throughout the American West, has filed a request to the Wyoming energy regulator for a new pricing structure that would apply specifically to blockchain companies with high power demands.

The request was made last week to the Wyoming Public Service Commission, which regulates gas, electricity, and water services in the state, by Black Hills Energy—a local subsidiary of Black Hills Corporation and the sole electricity provider to state capital Cheyenne.

Named the Blockchain Interruptible Service tariff, the supply scheme would apply to cryptocurrency mining operations with energy needs greater than 10,000 kilowatts. Under the terms, miners will be able to receive electricity at a lower cost on the condition that they accept the possibility of breaks to their supply under certain circumstances.

The tariff was designed with domestic consumers in mind: for every megawatt-hour of electricity sold to blockchain companies, retail customers will receive a $2 credit to their electricity bill. Balancing the needs of industrial and domestic consumers is particularly important in Wyoming: the state has the second-highest per capita energy usage in the U.S. (behind only Louisiana) due to its low population and high concentration of industry.

Energy distribution areas served by Black Hills Corporation
Areas served by Black Hills Corporation (image: blackhillscorp.com)

“We believe it will help attract blockchain entities to Wyoming, but the tariff is designed to protect our customers from added costs or service interruptions,” Shirley Welte, Black Hills Energy’s vice president of electric and gas operations for Wyoming, told the Wyoming Tribune Eagle. “Customers would not incur a rate increase as a result of this. In fact, they would receive some benefits from it; there would be some credits to existing customers.”

The tariff proposal is part of a bigger mission by Wyoming officials to attract blockchain companies, underpinned by the idea that a clear and progressive regulatory framework that will give entrepreneurs the confidence to set up shop in the Cowboy State. Earlier this year, Republican Governor Matt Read signed a bill that classified ICO tokens as “utilities,” effectively exempting developers and sellers of tokens from state securities laws.

Subject to approval by the public service commission, Black Hills Energy would implement the new tariff starting December 1, 2018.