Sturgeon County may have legal cryptocurrency mines operating at gasworks sites later this year, now that the county council has passed new laws regulating them.
Sturgeon County Council voted 6 to 1 (Councillor Jason Berry opposed) to add new regulations for data processing facilities to the county’s land use bylaw.
County government filed the rules in January after Calgary’s MAGA Energy proposed using up to 60 natural gas wells in Sturgeon to power computers that would mine cryptocurrencies.
Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin are cryptographically secured currencies that can be “mined” by requiring computers to perform complex and often power-intensive calculations. Bitcoin alone consumes as much energy as the Netherlands, noted Martyn Bell, county program manager for current planning.
MAGA Energy said each of its mines would use 10 MW of electricity and create four jobs, Bell said. Each site is expected to generate approximately $19,740 in tax revenue per year.
The Council has already heard that the company Link Global established an unauthorized data processing facility at a MAGA-owned site near Greystone Manor in 2020 which created “unacceptable noise levels” during its operation.
At a public hearing on this settlement last February, Greystone Manor Residents Association President Jeff Kocuipchuk compared the noise of Operation Link Global to the noise of several idling Boeing 737s, and called on the council to require that all data processing facilities with power stations remain within 1,500 meters of any dwelling.
In its written report, the administration said such a setback would make it virtually impossible to install such a facility in Sturgeon County. Instead, he recommended that such facilities be kept 1,500 meters from dwellings unless they have a sufficient noise assessment and mitigation plan.
The regulation makes data processing facilities for discretionary use (i.e. subject to further review by a development officer) in agricultural, resource extraction, industrial, and mining districts. public utility, with permits for facilities in many of these districts capped at five years. The appearance and landscaping of the facility must also be approved by the county.
Com. Kristin Toms said residents were shocked when they learned about Operation Link Global and frustrated that the county had no legal way to act against it.
“It is extremely important that we have some capacity to deal with situations that arise near our residents, and I think this regulation is a big step in that direction.
In an interview, Berry said he opposed this new regulation due to concerns about the noise produced by these sites.
MAGA Energy Chairman of the Board, David Tian, said his company hopes to have the first of what will likely be a dozen data processing facilities operational in Sturgeon County within months.