Massena town to hold hearing on code change governing data centers, cryptocurrency miners
Wednesday, April 11, 2018 - 8:03 pm

MASSENA -- The Town Council prior to the start of their May 16 meeting to consider a code change that would govern data centers.

Town Supervisor Steve O'Shaughnessy said this is in response to a cryptocurrency mining company, Coinmint, that wants to set up shop at the former Alcoa East plant.

The text of the proposed law has not yet been released.

"It's something that's been missing since we've seen this activity with cryptocurrency and blockchain technology," O'Shaughnessy said at the board's Wednesday meeting. "We'll add this little definition and use so it can be used in our industrial park."

Coinmint had sought a power discount from the New York Power Authority, but NYPA's board never acted on their application and passed a moratorium on granting discounts to cryptocurrency firms until they can learn more.

A second company, Blockchain Industries, had sought to buy town land on county Route 43 to build a cyptocurrency mine. They pulled out of the area after NYPA announced their moratorium.

A third company, Skynet Digital, is running a cryptocurrency mine out of the R.E. Michael building in the village.

Cryptocurrency mining involves using powerful computers running online 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to solve complex math problems that encrypt and unlock the cryptocurrency on a secure ledger of transactions known as a blockchain. The unlocked and encrypted portions of the blockchain are then sold or traded as a commodity. Probably the most well-known form of cryptocurrency is Bitcoin. There are hundreds other varieties, such as LiteCoin and Ethereum.

Massena Electric Department officials are studying the potential impact of adding cryptocurrency miners to their power grid. MED board chairman James Shaw went in front of the Town Council at their March meeting and said it has the potential to drive up rates for the entire system. He said they are monitoring their power grid for signs of people mining cryptocurrency.