Bulloch Local Government

Commissioners to Consider Cryptocurrency Mining Operation Prompting Concerns Over EMC Reliance

Bulloch County Commissioners will soon consider a conditional use application for a cryptocurrency mining operation in the south end of Bulloch County. The application has concerned residents who say the project, which will run on an Excelsior EMC substation line, will be subsidized by other customers in the long run, causing a spike in prices following a surge in use. 

The Georgia Transmission Corporation submitted a conditional use application to allow a commercial cryptocurrency mining operation at a property on Highway 119 North, a “rural-neighborhood area” under the Bulloch County Joint Comprehensive Plan. 

About The Property

Public records indicate that the 5.46 acres at 5634 Highway 119 North is owned by Georgia Transmission Corporation out of Tucker, Ga.

The area is primarily rural residential and agricultural uses at adjacent and nearby properties with an EMC electrical utility substation already on property within the application. The closest fire station is in Stilson, approximately 5.6 miles away, and the Sheriff’s Office response time is listed at 25 minutes.

About Georgia Transmission Corporation

Georgia Transmission’s website lists the company as the “link” between state’s energy generators and local electric membership cooperatives (EMCs) to provide “reliable, affordable power to communities across Georgia.” 

About Cryptocurrency Mining Operations

As succinctly as it can be described, crypto mining is like other mining operations. Instead of metals, however, crypto seeks new coins by solving complex mathematical equations in the form of “cryptographic hashes – or data.” Cryptocurrency mining is also an automated process of validating transactions without the intervention of third parties like banks.

The practice has come under fire in recent years over concerns of carbon emissions and electronic waste. Experts say the annual electronic waste of crypto mining accounts for upwards of 36 kilotons annually. 

The operations also require significant amounts of energy, often from a variety of sources. In some instances, mining operations require more energy than some small countries. The tech website Digiconomist suggests electricity usage runs at 130.3 Terawatt-hours, and based on July 2022 numbers, converts to roughly 1455.8 kilowatt-hours of electricity per transaction, the same amount of power consumed by the average American household over 49.9 days.

Status of the Conditional Use Application

The departmental review by Bulloch County employees found the following:

  • there is no evidence that the proposed use will injure or detract from existing neighborhoods if conditions are met for the development. 
  • there is no evidence that the proposed zoning change should injure or detract from existing neighborhoods if property is maintained and ordinances/conditions are adhered to. 
  • failure to enforce any property standards is likely to result in stagnant or lower property values.

Staff recommended approval of the application, subject to several conditions, including:

  1. The building area located within security fencing shall be gravel or similar all weather surface material so as to prevent vegetative growth. 
  2. Site access from GA Highway 119 shall be an all weather surface 
  3. A driveway permit will be required by the Georgia Department of Transportation. 
  4. One office structure will be allowed and shall require a separate permit from the Development Services Division. Mobile office structures are allowed. 
  5. Any office structure shall be located within the perimeter fencing of the mining operation. 
  6. An occupational tax certificate shall be required from Development Services permit office prior to a certificate of occupancy being issued. 
  7. All solid waste receptacles shall be placed on concrete foundations and screened from view from the street and adjacent parcels by an opaque fence at a height that is no less than the height of the receptacle. 
  8. All lighting must be downcast and shall not produce glare or a nuisance to the surrounding properties. 
  9. No signage shall be permitted with exception to that required by the Bulloch County Zoning Ordinance for the proposed use. 
  10. Expansion of any new or existing structures to accommodate the proposed uses will require application for a new conditional use. Structures as represented by the applicant sketch shall be deemed the approved number of structures upon legislative approval

The application went before the Bulloch County Planning & Zoning Commission on July 14. At that time, P&Z voted to 3-1 to approve the application.

It is expected that commissioners will take up the matter at the next evening meeting on August 2, 2022 at 5:30 p.m.

Reference: Application #USE-2022-00023

Jessica Szilagyi is Publisher of The Georgia Virtue. She focuses primarily on state and local politics as well as issues in law enforcement. She has a background in Political Science with a focus in local government and has a Master of Public Administration from the University of Georgia. Jessica is a "Like It Or Not" contributor for Fox5 in Atlanta, a commentator on the 'Let Me Tell You Why You're Wrong Podcast,' and she has two blogs of her own: The Perspicacious Conservative and "Hair Blowers to Lawn Mowers." Sign up for her weekly newsletter: http://eepurl.com/gzYAZT

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