Gallery: Oregon bitcoin mining One penny. Or, if you prefer, 0.000001 bitcoin.

That tiny amount is the reason a cryptocurrency “mining” craze that upended small communities in Washington state has passed over Oregon. Oregon’s electric rates are cheap by national standards but not compared to Washington’s best prices, which are typically lower by 1 cent per kilowatt hour.

That doesn’t sound like a lot of money but it is in the world of bitcoin, a digital currency generated by power-hungry computers. A boom in bitcoin prices last year sent opportunists rushing into central Washington, capitalizing on the region’s rock-bottom power prices to produce the novel electronic currency that has become a cult-like rage in the past five years.

The small-time entrepreneurs hooked up computers in sheds, shacks, vacant apartments and pretty much anywhere else they could find an electrical outlet. The result was power surges, wrecked electrical gear, localized energy shortages and at least one small fire.

The influx sent regulators scrambling, with one small Washington public utility district slapping a moratorium on new mining hookups earlier this year. That sent cryptocurrency miners scurrying and looking everywhere for new options. Read more from…

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