Cameron Spencer/Getty Images That opportunity may not last. Huffman, who is also a former utility executive, argues that ever-cheaper power rates in other states, like California, could undercut the basin’s appeal to blockchain miners, who may begin to look for other places to mine.

For that reason, Huffman argues that the basin should be actively recruiting more miners, even if it means importing power. “I think there’s a window here,” Huffman says, “and it’s unknown how long that window will be open.” Yet he, too, knows that any such talk will lead to criticism that the basin is yoking its future to a volatile sector that, for many, remains a chimera.

“Some folks think that bitcoin is just a scam,” Huffman concedes. “And in the conversation, you usually don’t get past that.” Meanwhile, the miners in the basin have embarked on some image polishing.

Carlson and Salcido, in particular, have worked hard to placate utility officialdom. Miners have agreed to pay heavy hook-up fees and to finance some of the needed infrastructure upgrades.

They’ve also labored to build a case for the sector’s broader economic benefits — like sales tax revenues. They say mining could help offset some of the hundreds of jobs lost when the region’s other big power user — the huge Alcoa aluminum smelter just south of Wenatchee — was idled a few years ago. As in oil or gold, prospectors never stop — they just move on. Read more from politico.eu…

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