Washington State Utility Faces Lawsuit Filed by 9 Cryptocurrency Firms Over 50% Rate Hike

Nine cryptocurrency firms filed a lawsuit against a major utility provider in Washington, U.S. The Grant County public utility and its commissioners are facing a lawsuit that alleges that they “acted inappropriately in creating and approving a new rate that raises electricity costs” for digital currency miners.

The Grant County public utility district (Grant PUD) has announced that it is facing a lawsuit filed by nine cryptocurrency companies because of the increased electricity costs forced on them for mining digital currencies.

In a January 8 meeting, the commissioners made an agreement that “Grant PUD would cover the cost of legal defense for commissioners Tom Flint, Dale Walker and Larry Schaapman, as well as former commissioners Terry Brewer and Bob Bernd, and 10 PUD employees.”

The note of the meeting reads:

“All are co-defendants in a suit filed against Grant PUD in U.S. District Court of Eastern Washington by nine cryptocurrency-related firms who allege Grant PUD, its commissioners and some employees acted inappropriately in creating and approving a new rate that raises electricity costs for them and other new ‘evolving industry’ customers.”

Grant PUD’s website states that it serves over 50,510 clients in the county. The utility provider issued a statement on Thursday according to Ifiberone publication. The statement reads, “We are aware of the litigation and plan to file a response to the notice of complaint in federal court before the end of the month.”

The utility explained that beginning April 1st, digital currency miners would have to pay “the first of a three-year, graduated increase to a new, above-cost electric rate designed to protect Grant PUD from risk and preserve below-cost rates for core customers.”

Grant PUD’s commissioners unanimously approved on August 28 “the new Rate 17 for evolving industries.”

According to the utility, “all Grant PUD customers in the evolving-industry profile are miners of cryptocurrency, including bitcoin… Rate 17 customers will receive a 15-percent increase next year, a 35-percent increase in 2020 and a 50-percent increase in 2021, when the new rate will be fully in effect.”

Grant PUD expressed that at the time it approved the rate, it had received new service inquiries for over 2,000 megawatts of electricity since 2017 and 75% of the requests were from digital currency miners. This is equivalent to “more than three times the electricity needed to power all Grant County homes, farms, businesses and industry,” said the utility.