With electricity costs averaging between 3-to-4 cents per kilowatt-hour — roughly half the average cost in the U.S. — the northern Oregon town of The Dalles is primed to become a regional hotspot for cryptocurrency mining. As reported this week by regional newspaper Willamette Week, the city’s access to inexpensive energy has already attracted one multi-million dollar cryptocurrency mining company, and more may soon be on the way. Given the delicate cost/profit balance required for large mining operations — a situation where a bitcoin calculator can come in handy — locations like The Dalles are becoming increasingly attractive to mining firms.Located 85 miles east of Portland in semi-rural Wasco County, The Dalles may seem like an unlikely setting for a bitcoin mining boom. Thanks to cheap hydroelectric power supplied by Northern Wasco County People’s Utility District (NWCPUD), however, the area is ideal for tech investment. In fact, tech giant Google has had a major data center operating in the city since 2006 to take advantage of the same low-cost energy. One side effect of Google’s investment in the region is ready access to reliable, high-speed internet, a must-have infrastructure need for cryptocurrency mining operations.
OregonMines, the focus of the Willamette Week story, claims to have 2,750 AntMiners operating in the facility. According to owner Terrence Thurber, the facility has a $75,000 monthly electricity bill (2.5MWh on average), and a total annual operation budget of $2 million. While it’s not clear just how much hashpower OregonMines actually has, or if their entire facility is dedicated to bitcoin mining (most of their mining rigs are leased to other companies), the business appears to be quite successful. Oregon Business claims that the mining operation generates $3 million in annual revenue, making it one of the largest businesses in The Dalles.
Given OregonMine’s success, it may only be a matter of months before more U.S.-based cryptocurrency mining operations opt to relocate to area. Earlier this month, an engineer for NWCPUD reported that the utility company had received at least 10 applications for high-volume power service from bitcoin mining firms since November of 2017. The same level of interest is becoming noticeable just on the other side of the state border with Washington, where hydroelectric power is even less expensive.
The difference in bitcoin mining costs has already created something of an arbitrage market for customers looking to lease space at a facility like OregonMine. Given the built-in decentralization of most cryptocurrencies, and the relatively simple infrastructure needs of most mining companies — cheap power, cool/dry climate, reliable internet, well-ventilated warehouse space — places like The Dalles could soon become major hubs for blockchain technology. For any bitcoin miner thinking of relocating to take advantage of this situation, however, it’s definitely worth running the numbers through a bitcoin profitability calculator.